Verizon’s Poor Customer Service

We got a smart phone for my daughter two months ago. The only reason we got it was because the Verizon representative assured us that the 4-GB/month data plan would work in Canada, where my daughter goes to university.

The data plan does not work in Canada.

So now we’re stuck with paying $1,680 over the remaining length of the contract for a phone that she can only use when at home over the summer, or paying a $350 early termination fee.

We found out about the problem a month and eight days after getting the phone, when we went to Canada for the first time this summer. We racked up $50 worth of data charges in just a few hours. When we talked to Verizon they told us that a month and eight days was too late to return the phone without paying penalties.

I understand and respect the financial logic behind two year contracts and early termination fees, but what I object to is being sold an expensive phone that does not do what we were promised. We tested the functionality at the earliest practical date, and it did not work. Before getting the phone we double/triple/quadruple checked with the Verizon salesperson that the 4-GB/month data plan would work in Canada because that was critical – without that a smart phone made no sense. They double/triple/quadruple verified that it would work. But it doesn’t.

I’m not done arguing with Verizon, but they are being intransigent and I’m not sure what options I have. I talked to them last weekend, got promised a callback, and never got it. I think they are hoping we will give up and go away. But I’m not going to. So, I thought I’d just share my dissatisfaction. I dislike the asymmetry of power where they can lie to us and then claim that there is nothing that they can do to fix the problem which they created.

I want to give them back the phone, eat the $100 that we paid for it, cancel the contract, and call it fair.

About brucedawson

I'm a programmer, working for Google, focusing on optimization and reliability. Nothing's more fun than making code run 10x faster. Unless it's eliminating large numbers of bugs. I also unicycle. And play (ice) hockey. And juggle.
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6 Responses to Verizon’s Poor Customer Service

  1. Billco says:

    That is a standard operating practice for telecoms. Sales reps systematically lie in person and over the phone, because it then becomes a “he said, she said” scenario. The only way, even in 2013, to scare these crooks a little straighter, is to demand everything in writing.

    If it’s any consolation, they are just as crooked here in Canada. Many many years ago, I had a Bell rep sell me a completely different plan than what I ended up getting, and it wasn’t until I got a consumer watchdog organisation to brow-beat them, that they started to right the many wrongs. It still took months to get sorted out, and during that mediation I was paying over twice as much as was originally quoted for my service.

    Heck, just last month, I changed my mobile plan online, and the price plainly displayed as “Total monthly bill = $xx” conveniently excluded a few surcharges. Luckily, I took a screenshot and will hound them until they fix it.

    Telcos are just barely less evil thank banksters in my book.

  2. jrrr says:

    Carriers have a lot of incentives to act badly, and have been allowed to build business models that make it worse. I minimize the potential for problems by buying GSM phones outright and using no-contract sim-only plans. Not sure if this is possible in Canada.

  3. Evan M says:

    If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been similarly screwed by tmobile.

  4. Enrico says:

    You can also try to sell the phone with contract on cellswap or Craigslist.

  5. Jeremy says:

    Next time they change their contract terms and conditions, simply say you don’t agree to the new conditions. Close your contract, and you are done, with no termination fee. Verizon is probably the worst I’ve encountered for customer service, which is why I went back to AT&T.

    • rjesup says:

      Typically you’re grandfathered until the end of your contact, so there’s no option to decline-and-terminate. It can work in your favor occasionally, as they continue the grandfathering after the contract ends (though in theory they could then change it any time). This is how I still have unlimited data on Verizon over 2 years after they ended it. If you have a family plan, it’s even possible to upgrade your phones (with some minor pain).

      Did they record the customer service call? Or was it in-person? You should consider going into a physical store; perhaps they’d do better (it’s generally harder to be hard-nosed in-person with someone with a legitimate beef, especially if they’re polite)

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