Verizon SNAFU

A tale of trying to switch back to Verizon for local phone service

Verizon is the great satan of telcos

I use First Communications for local and long distance phone service i.e. my “land line”. First Communications is a CLEC, which means they resell an ILEC‘s (or RBOC‘s) telephone lines. Verizon is the ILEC/RBOC in my area. Because Verizon sucks, using a CLEC is especially attractive. When I call my CLEC, I almost always get directly to a human being and they’re almost always able to help me immediately. Wow. To make matters worse for Verizon, CLECs are often able to offer a savings to phone consumers. How do ILECs survive the onslaught of wireless and CLECs? Well, maybe they won’t.

I saved some money with First Communications for a while, but they’ve gotten more expensive every year. Base fees have gone up, add-on fees (e.g. call waiting) have increased, long distance rates have risen too. Recently, they even implemented a five dollar per month “administrative fee” – whatever that is. One person speculated that it’s a fee to recoup losses and fines from the huge blackout in 2003 which was caused by FirstEnergy, a partner in First Communications. Who knows?  Well, maybe the CLEC will tell me? I’ve been on hold with First Communications for about fifteen minutes as I type this. (So much for that stellar phone support track record I mentioned earlier.) And I’m stepping out for lunch, so I guess we’ll never know about that mysterious fee.

The short of it… my incentive to stay with my current provider is waning. For the past three years, once a year I contact Verizon to see what sort of a deal they can give me to compel me to return. Three years ago I got tired of being transferred and being on hold and just gave up. Last year the offer was so good (something like $20/mo for unlimited local and long distance,) I signed up for Verizon service. A week later I hadn’t heard anything so I called back and determined they’d canceled the order by mistake. This year I called and spoke to somebody who told me that I had to talk to somebody else, and etc. I eventually hung up and tried a chat session.

Verizon Live Chat Transcript

Chat Subject: Home Phone Product Inquiry
Your Question: Want to get pricing for home phone, call waiting, etc.
A Verizon eCenter Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you. (11:46:27)

Agent William has joined. (11:46:27)

William : Chat ID for this session is xxxxxxxxxxxxxx. (11:46:27)

William(11:46:42): Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. I will be happy to help you today.

William(11:47:02): Have you tried to access that information from the website?

Dan Dreifort(11:47:02): Hi, looking for home phone, call waiting, caller ID, three-way, non-listed number, and maybe longdistance

Dan Dreifort(11:48:09): I have tried both calling and your website. But if you point me to your pricing, I’ll try that

Dan Dreifort(11:48:41): I’d like to know what I’d pay including those extraneous fees too

William(11:49:52): If you are on the website, please go to the phone tab and click check availablity.

William(11:50:32): You would need to enter your address to see what services you qualify for.

Dan Dreifort(11:51:00): Doing it now…

William(11:51:20): After you do this you will choose the product you want and it will allow you to start placing the order and get the pricing for the entire order.

Dan Dreifort(11:51:23): It says Verizon service exists at my address…

Dan Dreifort(11:51:36): I use a CLEC

Dan Dreifort(11:51:41): is that why?

Dan Dreifort(11:52:07): i.e. I’m sure Verizon manages the lines and they run into a Verizon NOC.

Dan Dreifort(11:52:23): But I’m billed by First Communications.

Dan Dreifort(11:52:45): And my question is, how do I respond to this question: “Verizon service exists at the address you entered.
Is this service yours?”

Dan Dreifort(11:52:52): “Yes, I want to add or change the services on my account.”

Dan Dreifort(11:52:54): or

Dan Dreifort(11:53:04): “No, I am moving to this address or living at this address with the owner of the current services.”

Dan Dreifort(11:53:15): Because neither is exactly correct.

William(11:53:56): If you would be bringing your services back to verizon, Click the first add/change services.

Dan Dreifort(11:54:06): ok

Dan Dreifort(11:55:06): I enter my phone number… and get this ERROR “We don’t recognize the number you entered as a Verizon home phone number. ”

Dan Dreifort(11:55:14): So that’s why I’m chatting with you.

Dan Dreifort(11:55:22): I’ve been trying to come back to Verizon for THREE YEARS now.

Dan Dreifort(11:55:34): Never works.

Dan Dreifort(11:55:38): Always reach a barrier.

Dan Dreifort(11:56:03): It shouldn’t be that hard to welcome me back.

Dan Dreifort(11:56:08): What can we do?

William(11:56:34): I would not be able to process this request. Please contact Verizon sales and billing at 800-837-4966. This department would be able to process your request for service.

Dan Dreifort(11:57:20): Not really – I’ve already been on the phone w/ Verizon for 15 minutes today.

Dan Dreifort(11:57:44): They kept passing me from dept to dept. Nobody wanting to take responsibility to sell me phone service.

Dan Dreifort(11:58:01): Same thing has happened every time I call/chat.

Dan Dreifort(11:58:34): Can you have the correct person call me?

William(11:58:49): I am not able to have someone call you.

Dan Dreifort(11:58:52): I’ve wasted several hours of my time over a few years trying to bring Verizon business.

Dan Dreifort(11:59:06): Can you have somebody email me?

Dan Dreifort(11:59:14): Or fax me?

William(12:00:55): I am not able to do either of those options. I apologize for the inconvenience that you have received.

Dan Dreifort(12:01:00): Or can somebody please write me a letter explaining to me why it’s so hard to get Verizon to sell me phone service?

William(12:01:06): Have you been calling the number I provided?

Dan Dreifort(12:01:14): I’ll call right now…

William(12:01:40): Thank you.

Dan Dreifort(12:01:44): What number should I enter?

William(12:01:59): 800-837-4966.

Dan Dreifort(12:01:59): e.g. “I don’t have one” is an option

Dan Dreifort(12:02:07): no, once I’ve called what phone number should I enter or should I say I don’t have one?

Dan Dreifort(12:02:15): I’ll press 0 to get an operator I guess.

Dan Dreifort(12:02:37): I’m pressing 3 for “something else”

Dan Dreifort(12:02:45): 1 for “phone”

Dan Dreifort(12:02:57): 3 for “everything else”

Dan Dreifort(12:03:02): 1 for “home”

William(12:03:18): To order new service. Not sure of the option number.

Dan Dreifort(12:03:36): Listening to the hellish Madonna midi hold muzak for the fifth time today…

William(12:03:56): I apologize.

Dan Dreifort(12:04:03): Not your fault.

Dan Dreifort(12:04:12): All agents are busy.

William(12:04:22): This department should be able to take your reqeust.

Dan Dreifort(12:04:43): You’d like to think that. I on the other hand have zero faith in that statement.

William(12:05:05): I completely understand.

Dan Dreifort(12:05:05): As far as I can tell, their strategy is to have me wait on hold until I hang up.

Dan Dreifort(12:05:38): I’ve been on the phone for four minutes already and nada.

Dan Dreifort(12:05:55): How long should I give Verizon to make a sale?

Dan Dreifort(12:06:04): a quarter of an hour? Half an hour?

Dan Dreifort(12:06:11): An hour?

William(12:06:22): I do not think that is the issue.

Dan Dreifort(12:06:52): I was on the phone for 15 minutes earlier. 20 minutes chatting with you so far. Five minutes on the phone now…

Dan Dreifort(12:07:04): We’re almost at 3/4 hour for the day.

Dan Dreifort(12:07:27): Is there a phone number I can call to make a complaint?

Dan Dreifort(12:07:34): A Verizon ombudsman or something like that?

Dan Dreifort(12:07:49): Or an email address I can email with my issues?

William(12:08:00): Is there anything else I can help you with?

Dan Dreifort(12:08:24): William, I’m guessing no. You’ve been very friendly. Thank you.

William(12:08:59): You are welcome. I hope you can get your order entered.

William(12:09:20): I apologize for all the problems you have encountered.

William(12:09:27): I hop you have ag reat day.

Did Verizon finally pick up the phone?

Yes. After about another ten minutes on hold I finally got to speak to somebody. She was very friendly. Her computer system wouldn’t allow her to provide me with any price quotes without actually placing an order. So we went through the whole song and dance of my social security number, drivers license number etc. to prove my credit rating is decent. She was telling me about some great pricing she might be able to offer… but no. After another twenty minutes on the phone I was told that I could get what I wanted for just shy of $60/month before taxes and fees.

That’s about what I’m paying now… and there’s no way in hell I’d ever go through Verizon hell without some economic incentive. Am I foolish enough to call Verizon again in another year? Maybe. But I might not get the chance.

Verizon Frontier Sale

They’re trying to sell a bunch of their rural lines to Frontier Communications. Here are a few different links with information about what evil Verizon is doing and how it’ll screw consumers.

Any bets on how long it’ll be before Frontier files for bankruptcy? I doubt it’ll take too long. Public utilities regulatory bodies both federal and state should be ashamed for letting this pass muster. (Edit: When I wrote this in 2010, Frontier stock was over $100/share. In 2019, less than a decade later, it’s worth about a buck a share.)

Verizon / Alltel Facebook Errors

Using Verizon or Alltel to connect via EVDO/3G and having problems with Facebook? You’re not alone. Call Verizon Now (1-800-922-0204) Some have suggested “fixes” to this problem ranging from deactivating and reactivating your Facebook account to editing about:config in FireFox. (No internet explorer specific “fixes”) but alas these efforts are either temporary at best or in vain completely. When I started getting the content encoding error after logging into Facebook I Googled and noticed this thread over at Mozilla. There I first suggested that this could be a problem with Alltel / Verizon. (The former was recently eaten up by the latter.) Turns out I was right. Everybody experiencing the Facebook error is also using Alltel / Verizon.

But how did I know? I used to use Wild Blue satellite to connect to the net. I couldn’t get to a specific site to load. Most people could. Then I talked to somebody else using Wild Blue and he too was unable to load the page. Turns out it was some sort of caching problem within their network. Additionally, after I later switched to Alltel / Verizon EVDO I noticed that they were doing some things that caused certain pages to parse weirdly. (e.g. articles’ text was illegibly too similar to the background color.) I did some troubleshooting with ars and found that Alltel / Verizon was parsing all of the external js and css files inline amongst other allegedly bandwidth saving tactics. Alas, their attempts to save money and time often cause problems.

We’re running into the same sort of thing with Facebook now. I called Verizon (1-800-922-0204) and tried telling them about the problem and the solution. Unfortunately, while their tone is friendly, they don’t really know what they’re doing. They kept trying to tell me it was a firefox problem. So I read them the IE error too. They tried to tell me it was a problem on my end. I told them that my laptop works fine with Facebook from non-Verizon connections. They tried to tell me the issue was local to my service area so I tried in vain to inform them of their many other subscribers having the problem nationwide. No dice.

So I insisted on opening a ticket. But alas, they failed to note some pertinent info. Somebody’s supposed to be calling me back within 72 hours. Lame. So, if you’re having the same problem, call Verizon now and tell them about it. The squeaky wheel gets the grease. I hate that I’m stuck with Verizon. They messed up Alltel so bad.