Monday, March 28, 2011

Verizon, Can You Hear ME Now?

Why do I ever think it's going to be easy dealing with Verizon? There is always a problem. In the past, I've spoken with really nice people who always promise to take care of the problem; months later I find out the problem was never taken care of.

This time the problem was an unauthorized third party charging my Verizon phone bill. I happened to look at the March bill and found, under Other Charges, some company I'd never heard of charging us $12.95 (plus tax). I eventually discovered Compufixcomp is located in California (not to be confused with a similarly named company in Pennsylvania) and we'd supposedly signed-up for on-line computer maintenance. First I called the number on the Verizon bill for questions; after spinning through the various menus, I noticed there was an "800" phone number on the bill for this unknown company. The person who answered didn't seem very surprised when I expressed no knowledge of them and demanded a cancellation and refund. She gave me a confirmation number and supposedly took my e-mail address to send a confirming e-mail (not yet received, five days later).

The current Verizon bill is scheduled to be automatically paid by credit card on Monday, March 28. This was Wednesday, March 23. I don't really trust this company to refund my money, so I wanted to get the charge off the March bill before March 28. Which meant it was back to the interminable Verizon menus (and the ridiculously chirpy "lady" -- do they really think that they have the callers fooled into thinking it's a real person?) I eventually got through to the "ask a question about the bill" person. They apparently could only answer questions about the bill, they couldn't do anything about the bill, but they did transfer me to the payment people. I eventually was connected to a real person in a billing office in NJ (the state in which I live). He could help me arrange payment plans, look at previous payments and future payments, but not change anything on the bill. He transferred me to Heidi, a "billing specialist". She was a very nice lady and she was happy to take the $12.95 charge off my bill. She was also pleased that I'd spoken with the company, as that was what she was going to tell me to do next. And she even said we could put a block on our account so no one could automatically bill anything to it without our permission (I thought I'd already done that, but even if I hadn't, shouldn't that be the default?)

And then came the big problem . . . when Heidi said she couldn't guarantee that the $12.95 wouldn't be charged to my credit card on March 28, because it can take one to two (or maybe even two to three) billing cycles for things to be corrected. I asked her if she had taken the charge off and she said yes. I asked then how could it still get charged. She mumbled things about taxes and the one to two billing cycles. I pointed out this was being done on a computer and therefore should be completed. After going round a few times, I asked to speak with a supervisor, which she was happy to do. Heidi then sat on hold with me (breaking into the music every few minutes to say we were still on hold). By now over an hour had gone by on this endless quest.

Finally Mr. Smith came on. Yes, he understood the problem. He then did something that poor Heidi wasn't able (wasn't allowed?) to do and said the charge was now off of the bill. I asked about blocking unauthorized payments to my account. He said he could do that. I think he did, not really sure because he mumbled. So, I'm waiting to see what happens today (Monday) -- what will be charged to my credit card? Will this company continue to charge me? Will Verizon indeed block unauthorized charges to my account?

As I was quite aggravated after spending well over an hour on dealing with this, I decided to follow-up by tweeting that Verizon customer service sucked. Amazingly, within minutes I had a tweeted response and  a Verizon Customer Service  follow on Twitter. Wow, what friendly, cheery people work on Verizon's social media. Too bad the people that do the actual work aren't able to respond as quickly or effectively. Who cares if Verizon monitors their social media accounts if they don't allow their employees to fix customers' problems. There wouldn't be a need to monitor Verizon's social media so closely if the problems didn't happen in the first place. So Verizon, try putting some of your money into upgrading customer service and actually serve your customers! (And while you're at it, get rid of the computer lady on the phone calls and give me an understandable menu with just a few options.)

UPDATE: Bill has posted on AmEx, the correction was not made, the unauthorized charge was included. Thanks a lot, Verizon!