Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Verizon FiOS - billing from hell

Verizon, you have brought me to the brink.

All I wanted, back in December 2008, was the Triple HD EXTREEEEEEEEEME FiOS bundle. I'd had FiOS TV for nearly a year and was tired of paying Cavalier Telephone $25 in taxes and fees on $50 worth of services. I'd gotten a direct mail piece from Verizon saying that the bundle I wanted could be had for $109.99/month, with an additional discount if I signed up via their website. Simple enough, right?

Yeah, no.

First, since I was already a FiOS customer, I couldn't place the order without "signing in". They want to base each and every interaction with them on your Verizon home telephone number, but being a customer of a CLEC, that wasn't possible. I fumbled around and found something that was supposed to let me sign in using the account number from my bill. That didn't work either. I was able to send an email using the site, and did get a response - "Dear Larry Mac - Thank you for contacting the Verizon eCetner. I have received your email dated 12/15/08 regarding the trouble your experienced in trying to place an order for our Triple Play Bundle package. ... If you would like someone to contact you for assistance with your order, please reply to this email with a telephone numnber and the best time to reach you. ..."

That seemed helpful enough. Don't be fooled.

The incoming mail was dated 12/17. I replied on 12/18 with the contact information. I replied a second time on 12/23. I'm still waiting for that call to come in.

I tried using the website again, with my account number. After a lot more time and frustration, a webchat representative told me that I should only be using the "middle 10 digits" of my account number. Oh, hey, that's clear. NOT. I was still unable to place the order, probably because of my non-Verizon phone number, so finally, on December 30, I called. After quite a long time on the phone, including the third-party verification that is necessary to switch phone carriers, I thought the order was placed, and I was even supposed to still get the web discount.

Ha ha, tricked you again! On January 6, I received an email telling me the installation date (January 20), and to check their "What's Next" website. The order summary at that website mentioned "new" FiOS TV service and Internet service, but nothing about phone.

More phone calls. The guy on the phone said the first order hadn't been placed properly and there was no indication of my requesting phone service. This despite the aforementioned third-party verification and the previously undisclosed hard inquiry that hit my credit report. I was told that really the only way to resolve all this was to cancel the pending order and start from scratch. Oh, and since I had Cavalier DSL, they couldn't switch my phone over till that was removed. I really couldn't afford to be without DSL while waiting for Verizon, so the order then became just "add FiOS internet." I'd have two internet services for awhile, but once I knew the FiOS part was working, I could safely call Cavalier and cancel DSL. All of this, of course, meant losing my place in the installation queue, but the guy on the phone assured me once the original order showed as cancelled in the system he'd be able to bump my new installation up and he'd call me back as soon as that was done. Still waiting for that call too.

When the installer showed up to add FiOS internet to my house, the order information was, again, completely wrong - his records showed he would be doing a completely new installation. This meant that the “8 to 12” window stretched out until past 2 PM, making me miss a whole day of work instead of the half day which I had scheduled. I then called in on Tuesday 1/27 to attempt, yet again, to get telephone service to complete my bundle. After maneuvering past the incredibly poorly written phone menus, I was on hold for a good twenty minutes before getting to speak to somebody – who couldn’t help me because he was in a “copper only” office. I was placed on hold again, finally got to speak to somebody who seemed to be helping me, but then she put me on hold “to check something” and I ended up having my call answered in a FiOS HOA liaison office, and of course they had no information on my pending order. That person transferred me again, and when I heard “what telephone number are you calling about?” I just hung up in frustration. (Verizon, please note: You are not the only telephone company in the area. You need to STOP asking that as the opening question.) That was over an hour of my time wasted on their inability to accept a simple order. One might have thought that the representative who lost my call would have called me back at the contact number I’d given her when we began speaking, but of course that didn’t happen.

On 1/28, I cleared an hour from my schedule to make another call. It took exactly forty-five minutes to get through the whole process and I thought it was all good. I specifically asked the representative yesterday if there would be another credit check and was assured that there would not. And then I got an email the next day from Experian stating “The following inquiries are "hard" or voluntary inquiries and were generated because you authorized the companies listed to request a copy of your credit report.” The problem is that I did not, at any time during my numerous calls, EVER authorize a credit check.

The phone installation finally happened on February 12, or two months from my initial attempt to order the bundle. You'd think that would have been the end of the nightmare, but no, of course not.

Since then, I have had to call EVERY month upon receiving my bill. First, there were the unauthorized "activation fee" payments. Also, somebody had taken it upon themselves to give me a "free" month of HBO and Cinemax. Now I'd had this free shit from Verizon before. They start it in the middle of a billing cycle and then try to charge you for a partial month later on. Not falling for that crap again. In addition, even though I thought I finally had my long-awaited Triple bundle, I was receiving separate bills - one for TV and internet, one for phone.

In April, I called to get the second installment of the activation fee removed, and I still had a partial month of HBO/Cinemax to get removed. They'd managed to combine my bills, but in so doing, had to monkey around with the billing cycle, so there was partial month this and partial month that everywhere.

Yesterday, I sat down with my May bill and of course I had to call again. First, the final of the three activation fee installments had to go. Also, since this was the first bill that had everything combined on the same billing cycle, I whipped out my calculator and found they were charging me $119.99 for the bundle. So how long has *this* been going on? Three months, I'll bet. Another phone call. This time I'm informed that I was not, in fact, set up on the Triple bundle at all. WTF? Seriously? So the lady on the phone puts me on hold a bunch of times, gives me a number that supposedly represents the credits I am due, and promises me that my next bill will be correct. She offers me some free movie channels for my trouble. See above. I guess getting a credit for the previous incorrect bills is out of the question.

Today I decided I'm not going to let that sleeping dog lie. I log on to my verizon.net account and try to find my bill. There's apparently no way to see the bundled bill at all. But I could be wrong . . . even though today is May 12, the most recent bill information I can locate is from March 1. Seriously, Verizon?

And the constant nags to sign up for direct and/or paperless billing? Who on earth would trust you with access to his checking account?

Let's cut through all this and lay it on the line, Verizon. Your customer facing systems are broken. Completely and irretrievably broken, and frankly, I don't think they can be fixed. In the meantime, I've sent a request for a full review of my account going back to December, with a complete and clear explanation of all charges and credits.

I'm more than willing to contact the state regulators if necessary.


At 9/7/09 08:58, Blogger Guancous said...

This is not an isolated incident. Thank you g
for publishing this. More people need to vocalize their displeasure so we can shame Verizon into diverting some of their resources towards customer support.

It feels like there are understaffed offices scattered throughout the country filling a narrow technical niche. No department can directly access another. Why can't the billing department correct my name on the bill as well as credit my billing error? Why can't the Fios division reinstall the Internet they inexplicably canceled and restore my channel guides at the same time?

Calling a regional officeis a crapshoot, even if you have the direct number. I dialed the Maryland number they gave me and I got Boston. God help you if you have an out of state cell phone number.

You raise an excellent point. Why is the Verizon number the primary key? That causes a five minute explanation that I have an iPhone and no use for Verizon phone service. Why would I purchase more of your products after I've been on hold for an hour?

At 17/7/09 11:21, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Billing from hell
I'm so sorry to hear about your problems with Verizon. I too encountered almost the same scenario and I never did get the credits !

At 12/12/09 23:02, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting. Your story is very similar to mine... I have the direct number for the Maryland office if anyone is interested. So I still have to call every month to get my bill fixed, but I now i'm never on hold. I do bother to call back two or three times, however, because we all know that they never actually do what they say they will do...

At 24/5/10 09:48, Blogger TC said...

Reading your poat brings back some terrible memories of my own billing frustrations with Verizon Fios. I have an out of state cell phone number, so i am routed to no less than 5 representatives before i can get to the Virginia offices. Now, Im braving the installation at my new apartment, waiting for the tech during the infamous "8-12" block. Im crossing my fingers everything goes smoothly, but previous experience has me knowing that will never happen.

At 20/2/11 08:57, Blogger John said...

Totally frustrated!!! Billing & cuatomer service sucks!!Continued billing after final statement.issue passed from one rep to another.Go Optima Triple Play!

At 13/7/11 09:08, Blogger Ernst said...

Tried to subscribe to verizon fios, The rep told me that there was going to be a soft pull of my credit report. Bing..., there was a hard pull and i lost 9 points from credit score. BE CAREFUL...

At 20/9/11 18:53, Anonymous dinesh kolla said...

I have similar issue with FIOS today,
I guess some things never change, I cancelled verizon services including FIOS.

At 17/6/12 22:06, Anonymous Craig said...

I was just billed $499.55 by Verizon for a month (in advance) of triple-play bundle plus a partial month when I reconnected service after being on vacation. When I called to get my service reconnected, I made sure that they were going to give me my old bundle price which includes a $30/month "loyalty credit" (this they gave me when I threatened to go back to Comcast. Well, not only did my bill not reflect the $30/month credit, but they billed me the separate rate for each of the three services!! After spending a full hour on the phone with the rudest CSR I've ever spoken to, they credited me back $200.

I looked at my billing on line over the past year and EVERY MONTH Verizon has made billing errors and they are ALWAYS in Verizon's favor. This is CRIMINAL. Most people just go ahead and pay their bills because they don't have the strength to fight with them or don't understand their bill.

What can we do, folks?? Would anyone like to join a group and fight these criminals? I feel certain we could prevail.


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