Verizon, Can You Hear Me? Can You Hear Me Now? Listen Up!

Here’s a snap shot from my life– the life that we all live where we have to deal with issues. While you often hear about the fun stuff, there’s a lot of stuff you don’t hear about and not all things are powder puffs and massages around here– particularly when you have to deal with phone service.
What is it with phone carriers that they start treating you like you *owe* them your loyalty but that they can charge you anything they want- even when it’s their mistake.
I have a thing about dealing with phone and communication companies who have poor customer service. I blog about them. I tell you all the gory details about what’s wrong with this particular provider and what they should do about it.
The ATT Cell Phone Rebate that hit this blog in July, 2007 got the attention of ATT execs and they changed the policy of the rebates to be of larger print, with greater details explained. Didn’t get me any of my left-over balance on the cards but that was a minimal issue.

About a year ago, we switched from Charter Communications bundle to Verizon Fios — a great two year bundle that included internet service, cable tv and al phone service– with a unlimited flat rate long distance package for domestic calls.
We were very happy until a slew of problems from Verizon hit us like a landslide off K2.
Somehow Verizon misinterpreted our 2 year contract and cancelled all the promotional incentives/discounts tied to the 2 year contract after only one year.
Two phones calls + 3 hours over 2 days finally got a customer service representative at Verizon to realize that someone had cancelled part of our 2 year contract incentives which were promptly reinstated. End of story — but little did we know that was not the end.
During this incident, I enrolled in an international calling plan at the lowest possible cost– which was a flat $4 per month, at 8 cents per minute to the UK. The order was verified and I was told it would take a couple weeks to “go live” and I would get a phone call.
When the international calling plan went live, I set up a “phone appt” with someone in the UK..
I was sent a phone number which I dialed and it didn’t work.
I called the operator and asked what was the country code for the UK and said I think I was dialing the wrong number.
The operator gave me the correct code and verified that I did indeed have an active international calling plan in effect and I could just dial directly.
I tried to call again– and this is where it gets weird– I got a recording asking for my phone card number, a number for me to bill it to or if I wanted to make it a collect call.
Realizing that I must have made some mistake, I dialed up the operator again and explained that I was trying to dial the UK and that I must have made some error in what I was dialing.
My request was to know what was I doing wrong? What did I misdial? The operator asked for the number which I gave to her and suddenly I am hearing my friend in the UK on the other line and the operator was hanging up.
Confused, I said “wait, don’t hang up” but the operator was gone.
The operator had made the call for me — yet she didn’t tell me that was what she was doing and that I would be billed at a regular operator assisted call rates.
Not realizing what had transpired, I chatted with my friend for about 30 minutes.
I found out about all this “operator assisted call” versus my international callling plan snafu the very next day when someone from the Verizon fraud department called me to ask me about the phone call.
I explained that I had difficulty making the call and had requested confirmation of the calling plan, the country code and also about what I was doing wrong in my dialing of the number (Was I supposed to add a 1 to the number or not? Was I misdialing the number?) .
The Fraud Department gentleman said no, that it had been an operator assisted call and that was why he was calling because the bill was not $4 + 8 cents x 30 minutes (= approximately $8 with tax) but $110.00!!!
I was shocked and the Fraud person was too because there was a calling plan in place.
I imade it clear that I had not requested the operator to dial the call, just to tell me what mistake I was making in dialing so that I could direct dial correctly.

The gentleman said I could dispute the charge when I received the bill. I wanted to dispute it that day but he said it had to go through the system and hit the paper bill before I could dispute it.
The bill was shocking when it arrived.
Not only did it include $110.00 charge for a single international call, but the bill reflected that we had instituted new service and they were charging us some serious bucks to get that service package that was still part of our 2 year contract.
I spent another 2 hours of navigating the escalation to a supervisor at Verizon to get these charges waived.
( time involved with Verizon was now totalling 6 hours!)
I spoke with an escalation supervisor (*Missouri office) We covered the entire bill line by line.
He could see that we had a 2 year contract. Why we were being charged for new service installation (and why it was deleted after only one year) puzzled him but he was determined to get it resolved with that department
More concerning to him was the incident with the international call. He indicated that there had been a spate of calls from customers who had not requested for operator assisted calls but wanted other information (similar to my request for additional information about what I was doing wrong), but were connected by the operator and billed for that assisted service.
With my international plan in place, there was no need for an operator to make the call. He said he would turn this in for adjustment but that he would call me back in a couple of weeks if there was a problem with either adjustment.
A month went by and we got the new bill and there were adjustments to the bill crediting all the regular calling plan charges and reinstating our 2 year contract. There was no mention either way about the international call. I figured it was corrected and didn’t think about it. The bill was paid in full as it is every single month.
Last week the Verizon supervisor called me, we had the reinstall service charges waived, but Verizon denied the waiving of the international call. I would have to pay the $110.00 immedately (though we had paid the balance of the bill in full already) so that we would not incur a late penalty. (Let’s rub some salt into that wound!)
The only way to get Verizon to possibly waive the fee or reverse that charge was to write a regular snail mail letter to their St. Petersburg, Florida office– which has been done and by the time you see this blog, it’s in Verizon’s hands.
I did indicate to the supervisor to please make note that I was with the media and that this would appear on the internet in the form of a blog about the really poor customer service and treatment that Verizon provides its’ customers– particularly when it was an error not of my doing.
It was clear to me — and to the supervisor– that the operator did not listen to my request for just some verbal information. I did not ever request her to dial the number— yet Verizon is insisting on a payment of $110.00 which was paid within 24 hours.
Now I am posting this here.
What I am suggesting to you is that you check your phone bills— no matter what the carrier (cell or land-line) and make sure that it accurately reflects your calls. You could find that someone has charged you incorrectly for something that is in your contract. You might find that someone charged you for something you didn’t request or didn’t even do.
It’s not just Verizon that does this, it’s Charter, ATT and all the carriers. However I must say that I am exceptionally disappointed that Verizon would treat a customer who has paid the bill in full every month with such callous disregard The changes in the contract were unacceptable. The issue over the international call for which I did not request an operator to make the call is absolutely insane.
Realize that if you have Verizon for your long distance and/or local calling plans for your home that you could be charged for something that you didn’t ask for, that changes or charges could be made to your account without your express request or authorization.
Verizon, you have made a serious error. One that will be reported to the FCC if you can’t work with me on this. Verizon, your commercials feature a man walking around saying “Can you hear me ? Can you hear me now? ” . I want to know can you hear ME talking to you NOW!!
This is just big corporate entity picking on a singular (get the pun?) consumer who they have run over. Wrong consumer, wrong move. What’s worse is that it’s probably happened to a lot more people out there who haven’t looked closely at their bills and have been suckered into paying more than they should have for their phone service.
A suggestion: start checking your bills.
Stevie Wilson

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© 2007 KBP Inc.

Author: Stevie Wilson

Digital and social media pioneer and visionary meets disruptive innovator with a passion for topics and conversations that reveal insight into the So. California lifestyle. appeals to a global audience (from Asia to Africa; Middle East to Europe, No. America to Latin America) in variety of topics and sectors: style (beauty and fashion), health & fitness, entertainment (movies, TV, books, music and more) ; food, beverages & spirits; IT Security + tech , travel, special events (red carpet to green carpet) I am known for interviews ( podcasts , textual and video conversations) with notables, celebrities and companies about interesting products & brands; profiles about places that reflect the So. CA vision and special events (Oscars, Golden Globes, Emmys & other events that illustrate celebrity , athletes and home-town "stars" lifestyle and initiatives.) that illuminate the insider's perspective of So. California's lifestyle . Learn what's hot in Los Angeles, NYC, MIami and stops closer to home that make this blog a must-read because the voice, attitude, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for consumers to earn what makes a brand, initiative or product unique - whether, food, fashion or finance (or any other topic "on the table") With 15+ Years online launching websites, online magazines, forums, products & brands, my voice, authenticity and ability to grasp the essence of most sectors, brands & products make it easy for me to share what the online audience and consumers alike want to learn- how to shop, live and reflect the lifestyle they wish to emulate. Need to leverage digital and social media space? Reach out to me!

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