Thursday, December 29, 2011

Verizon: "Your session is now closed. Thank you, have a nice day."

I again break my holiday blogging break because I can't wait till the New Year to share this story with you.Verizon sent an email offering a special rate on a new two-year contract for the FIOS internet, telephone and television service to which I subscribe, and I wanted to know how it compared with my existing rate. Here's the actual chat transcript after I clicked on the icon above.  I couldn't make this up:

A Verizon Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you.

Agent Stephen has joined.

Stephen : Chat ID for this session is 12281146501.

Stephen: Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and visiting our Verizon chat service. How can I help you place your order?

You(21:01:30): I am looking at the $104.99 2-year contract. What am I paying now?

Stephen(21:02:30): let me send you a link to check your bill.


Stephen(21:02:50): Please click on the above link to check your bill after logging into your online account.

You(21:03:47): I don't recall my user name or password, and when I clicked on the link to retrieve them, nothing happened.

Stephen(21:04:22): Do you have a paper bill whch you can look?

You(21:05:35): No, I don't. The site responded, and I asked for both. The next screen is blank, so far. Stay tuned!

Stephen(21:06:35): Let me provide you with the number to call and get this infromation, as online being into the sales department, we don't have the internal access to look into your account.

Stephen(21:06:50): Please contact our Consumer Solutions Center directly at: (800) VERIZON or (800) 837-4966, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

You(21:07:27): I called the number before i tried this live chat, and it said no one is on duty at this hour -- even though it claims to be available 24x7.

Stephen(21:08:37): I understand. In that case, I recommend that you try back later or come back online during the business hours. So that the online account specialists are available during that time.

You(21:09:47): So 24x7 doesn't actually mean 24x7?

Stephen(21:10:27): It should be 24 X 7, because most of our customers do get it available 24 X 7.

Stephen(21:11:22): Do you have any other questions for me today?

You(21:11:35): I guess I am special! As I went through the menu on the phone, it asked whether i wanted to talk about FIOS internet, Phone, or TV. I have all 3. I picked internet and then got that message. Would I do better picking some other choice?

Stephen(21:12:05): Let me send you a link to contact Verizon via email about it, and get it resolved within 24 hours.


Stephen(21:12:31): Please click on the above link to contact Verizon via email.

You(21:12:50): About what, my initial question about the 2-year contract, or how to talk to a representative?

You(21:13:38): Meanwhile, the online request for my user id and password stopped functioning.

Stephen(21:14:04): I am sorry, but per your first statement, you just asked question about your existing bill. Could you please be more specific on your initial question that you are trying to ask?

You(21:14:51): I am trying to compare the offer you have on your website, for a two-year contract, with what I am currently paying.

Stephen(21:15:21): Which Verizon services do you currently have?

You(21:15:35): FIOS internet, phone, and TV.

Stephen(21:16:15): You can go for our Verizon FiOS Triple play with FiOS Prime HD 15/5Mbps Internet FiOS Digital Voice Unlimited calling for $104.99 a month with two years price guarantee.

Stephen(21:16:30): If you are out of the contract or under the last 60 days of the contract, then you'll get $300 Visa reward card.

You(21:17:21): I understand that offer. What I do not know is what I am currently paying, so I can compare the offer with my current rates. I don't even know if i have a current contract.

Stephen(21:17:51): Like I said, you need to login into your online account to see your bill, or check your paper bill.

Stephen(21:17:56): Can I assist you with anything else from my end?

You(21:19:09): And, I keep telling you that your website which is supposed to help me get online by restoring my user id and password is not working. And your 24x7 phone line is also not working, telling me to call back during business hours.

You(21:19:50): Is this some kind of cruel joke? I am interested in the product you are offering, and you are making it impossible for me to evaluate it.

The chat application is experiencing connectivity trouble. Your chat will be re-assigned to another agent and will be given high priority. We apologize and Thank you for your patience. (21:20:41)

Agent Valentina has joined. (21:20:41)

Your session is now closed.

Thank you, have a nice day.


A Verizon Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you.

Agent Jacob has joined. (21:23:03)

Jacob : Chat ID for this session is 12281147492. (21:23:03)

Jacob(21:23:03): Hello. Thank you for choosing Verizon and visiting our Verizon chat service. How can I help you place your order?

You(21:23:23): I was just chatting with Stephen when I got this message:

You(21:23:38): The chat application is experiencing connectivity trouble. Your chat will be re-assigned to another agent and will be given high priority. We apologize and Thank you for your patience. (21:20:41)
Agent Valentina has joined. (21:20:41)
Your session is now closed.
Thank you, have a nice day.

Jacob(21:24:38): I sincerely apologize for all the inconvenience caused to you. How may I assist you today?

You(21:26:12): I am interested in the $104.99 two-year contract. I would like to compare it, though, to my current FIOS charge for TV, internet, and telephone service. I do not recall my user name and password, and your website does not function to restore those to me. I tried calling the 24x7 800 number for customer service, but it was not available.

Jacob(21:26:32): Let me assist you here.

You(21:26:40): My simple question is whether you can tell me what I am currently paying, so i can compare your offer with my current charges.

Jacob(21:26:45): Could you please let me know, if you have UserID and Password for Verizon service account?

You(21:27:14): Did you see my note above? "I do not recall my user name and password, and your website does not function to restore those to me"

Jacob(21:28:09): I do apologize for that. Let me assist you with the link to check the plans and price for the service.

Please click on the above link and enter your Home phone number.

You(21:29:10): That site says: "Enter your Verizon home phone number if only adding a bundle or new Internet or TV service. You will not be able to see or modify existing services."

Jacob(21:30:10): Yes, you would need to register online for the UserID and Password.

Jacob(21:30:21): Could you please let me know, if you do not have Home phone service?

You(21:30:32): I have home phone service.

Jacob(21:31:02): Great! Please enter the Home Phone number and you would be able to view the service.

You(21:32:26): I have done that, but no, I cannot view the service. It asks me to select a plan I might be interested in. It does not show me my existing plan or charges.

Jacob(21:33:01): Yes, you would be able to select the Triple bundle at $104.99/month, you would need to select Prime HD TV plan, Internet plan with speeds up to 15/5 Mbps and Unlimited calling plan.

Jacob(21:33:11): About the Existing service, you would need UserID and Password.

You(21:33:55): I am trying to compare that offer to what I am currently paying. As I explained to you already, I do not know my user id or password.

Jacob(21:35:15): Yes, I do understand your concern and as you do not have UserID and Password, it would not be possible to check the existing service.

Jacob(21:35:30): You would be able to view the new plans and price listed on the Build Bundle page, that you can opt for.

You(21:36:20): Is this some kind of cruel joke? I am interested in the product you are offering, and you are making it impossible for me to evaluate it.

Jacob(21:37:50): Let me assist you with the link to retieve your UserID and Password.

You(21:38:21): I have already explained to you that that link does not work.

You(21:39:27): Perhaps, instead, you could send me the link to RCN or Comcast . . .

Jacob(21:40:32): I sincerely apologize here for the inconvenience caused to you.

Jacob(21:40:53): I would recommend you to try the link and let me know, if you are able to retrieve your userID and Password.

You(21:41:57): Jacob, I already tried that. I am sure none of this is your fault, but this has been an extremely frustrating interchange. Perhaps we should just call it a night.


Jacob(21:43:12): Please try to proceed with this link and check, if you can retrieve your userID and Password.

You(21:45:25): The link doesn't even load now. Last time, it loaded and did not work to deliver the Id and password. I think you should move on to help the next customer.

Jacob(21:46:50): In this case, I would recommend you to call our Local Verizon Office and get the UserID and Password for Verizon service account.

You(21:47:16): What is the number for the local office?

Jacob(21:47:51): You may please call The Local Verizon Office at 1-800-837-4966 between 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM EST from Monday to Friday. I assure you the best assistance.

You(21:49:24): Oh yes, that is the number that promises service 24x7...

You(21:49:34): Good night.


e-Patient Dave said...

I wonder if we can find out which outsourcing company Verizon works, in their ongoing effort to cut off their skilled workforce.

Two things come to mind:

1. This is what you're being given by this employer that wants to bust the union. They want to give you GARBAGE for the same price, figuring they can get away with it because when the misery is over, you won't walk, so their net-net will be better and they'll have their bonuses for cleverly raking in the income while screwing both the customer and the workers.

Occupy Verizon.

This reminds me of the death of customer service during the dot-com years. I once sent in an Iomega ZIP drive for warranty repair, and two weeks later they wouldn't even LOOK for it if I couldn't prove I'd sent it to them by faxing the Fedex waybill. THEN they found it and started repairing it.

Note: the outcome of that era was that semi-literate outsourcing was good enough - we collectively didn't walk - so that's what we often have today. (The public's unwillingness to vote with our feet vaguely reminds me of their lack of interest in hospital comparison data.)

2. Waddaya think are the odds that Verizon will bring these cost-saving innovations to healthcare?

So, ya gonna suck it up, or prove the cost-cutters right?:-)

(Note to the 1%: the more starved we the public get, the more we're willing to put up with garbage as long as it's cheaper. Keep starvin' us and it'll work better & better. But I guess you know that.)

e-Patient Dave said...

Please forgive the typos in that comment - obvious wrong words. Personal failing: when I spend too long writing a comment, I too cut corners by not proofing.

Keith W. Boone said...

Reminds me of the time that I call AT&T to find out about their DSL availability because their web site was down. First the automated system asked me to enter my phone number (why don't these people use caller id?), then after several menus, I got to a human: Who then asked me for my phone number! LOL. I explained what I wanted to know (could I get DSL), and then she asked me for my zip code. I laughed and asked her why, and she said that she needed it to find out. I knew what was coming next. After a few seconds waiting she told me the computers were not working. "Yeah, that web site is down, which is why I called you I said, and hung up.

Pam said...

You have the patience of Job! Please let me know when you are able to compare plans. I might have the same question, but no way am I going through that! No way am I going back to Comcast either........

clairesmum said...

ah yes, the department of redundancy department!
i have my DSL and house line with Verizon, our cell phones with ATT and the new iPad on Verizon, and cable TV on Comcast. This way I can spread out the misery and hopefully all of them won't collapse at the same time.
i get it, they advertise 24/7 even tho they lack the ability to provide it and have no real intention to build capacity. That's true in a lot of areas, tho, when you test it out.
In health care, the ER ends up being the 24/7 'technical assistance live person' equivalent, and i am sure many times ERs would like to be able to reroute folks at triage by saying 'wait until business hours and contact our outpatient clinic."

Howard said...

How did you maintain your cool?
Sounds like an Abbott & Costello routine.

Anonymous said...

This isn't poor service, it is business strategy. It is 'bait and obfuscate' and is included in the smallest print on every ad, phone and credit card bill.

Shouldn't business and law schools just merge and be done with it?

Anonymous said...

I think you should check your bank or credit card statements because they may be charging you for products you did not sign-up for if you have automatic bill payment. Verizon did that to me and when I called to ask what the additional charge was the agent said that they sent a promotion by mail and that when I did not get back to them, they assumed that I wanted it and so they included it in my bundle. This was beyond annoying,I should never have to pay for products that I never ordered for. This to me is tantamount to fraud.They applied the money towards my next bill but it should never have happened in the first place.

Philip said...

And it only gets better...

Verizon Wireless to Charge Customers to Pay Their Bills

Phil Davis

G. B. Miller said...


This reminds me a few years ago when I was having a problem with my Hotmail account. Whenever I would reply to someone, I would get a shrunken screen.

Got passed around to 6 different reps and wound up with a 12 page e-mali and no resolution to my problem, which was due to me not wanting them to access my account in order to fix it.

Anonymous said...

There is brilliance in this strategy. Businesses of this size are completely automated, or paying pennies on the dollar for labor oversees. It costs nothing but a little stress to underpaid, easily replaceable 'service representatives' to add a few dimes to millions of customer bills.

But what is YOUR time worth? The opportunity costs of my time to write this comment makes me uneasy. Pick up a phone and spend half a day or more figuring out how to read the phone bill? I'm saving that for the health insurance policy and the hospital bill.

By the way, what course at HBS is this? "Tangling the web 202?"

John said...

Welcome to the club - you have a lot of company. I went through a similar experience 2-1/2 years ago when I signed up for Verizon's triple play at $89.99 a month for a 2 year contract. It took three monthly billing cycles before I got invoiced the correct amount, but it required a lot of analysis to put the pieces together. I love FIOS, but Verizon's business processes are from the Stone Age.

Verizon's invoice makes a UB-04 look simple by comparison. Long story short, they sold me a package that they couldn't bill, so they had to "Rube Goldberg" their invoice to bill me the contracted amount. Sort of reminds me of how we do managed care contracting: MBAs from provider and carrier negotiate a sophisticated contract that then gets turned over to clerks to administer. The inevitable result: clean claims rates plummet, rework mounts, appeals get filed, and administrative costs soar.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the chat reps were trying to assist, but unfortunately you did not even know or have your own info. That's their fault? Another egotistical blogger with nothing better to write about. Verizon, in my opinion, does a great job by me, and they have always extended assistance to my satisfaction. But, of course, everyone here is perfect...or has nothing better to do than complain.

Paul Levy said...

Gee, Anon 11:33, in which call center do you work? I know that the company just sent you all a copy of the blog post to review.

No one expects perfection, by the way.

Anonymous said...

Despite having a long history of poor customer service from Verizon myself, I am trying my best to see both sides of this story. It appears Verizon must not want its chat reps to have direct access to customers' passwords, hence the link given. And it is probably not the rep's fault if the phone service was not 24/7 as advertised. But certainly the rep should have a defined mechanism for reporting Paul's 2 difficulties up the line - one, the link didn't work and two, the phone service was not manned.
Second, it is unclear why the chat was abruptly cut off, probably due to Paul being labeled as a 'problem customer'. Again, does Verizon give its reps the tools to actually help the customer or just to fob him off till he gives up and goes away?

In short, it is my suspicion that Verizon largely hamstrings its chat and phone reps by failing to give them the training/tools/policy flexibility they need to provide actual customer assistance. Hello, can you hear me now???