Friday, October 24, 2008

Even More Customer Abuse


I was hoping to have an end of my phone bill problems, but this story, regrettably, has a sequel.

New month, new phone bill. This one's even higher than the previous month. And not only that, the extra fee which was allegedly waived last month, as it turns out, wasn't. So they said they took care of it, and they didn't.

And the new charge? Well, last month, I reviewed all the subscribed services, and made sure nothing was turned on. It seems the web site neglects to include an extra internet plan (which we don't use, and specifically asked them not to enable when we signed the contract), to the tune of 15 bucks a month for two of the phones. There is no way to see that you are subscribed to this (automatically when you start a new contract) when you visit the website, except for the bill.

On the phone again, sorting this out - they will now (allegedly) take the new fee off, but I'm going to have to pay it first (it's not even due for another week), and have a credit show up the following month. Why? According to the service person, because "it's really complicated" to do with an immediate credit. In the meantime, Verizon gets to sit on 50 bucks and collect interest for another month (20 from the previous month, and 30 from this month). Multiply that across several million subscribers, and it's not a small amount of money.

Verizon, you should be ashamed.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

How to Abuse Your Customers

Here's a lovely example of how not to treat your customers.

My son, a typical teenager, is a text messaging fiend. His plan was set up for unlimited "in network" texting, and 500 "out of network" messages. About six weeks ago (two weeks into a billing cycle), he noticed he was approaching his 500 limit. So, he decided to upgrade to the 1500 out of network for an extra five bucks a month. Through the rest of that billing cycle, he ended up with about 950 out of network messages.

Come billing time, we've got a $20 fee for 200 messages over the limit. No matter how you slice it, that doesn't seem to make sense - we paid an extra five bucks to get 1,000 more messages.

Here's how the phone company justified it: when the plan was upgraded, they canceled the old one, and pro-rated the time. With half the time, he only was allowed 242 messages, and hence was 192 over. Those were billed as overages instead of rolled over into the upgraded plan (which ended up alloting another 823 extra messages, only 518 of which were used).

So, somehow upgrading our service to cover more minutes (surely the desired goal of the phone company), turned into a penalty for doing so mid-month.

The only silver lining is that after calling the phone company and explaining the issue, they did eventually waive the extra fee, although they tried hard to convince me their billing was correct first. As I said to them, "I understand why a computer would do such a thing, but surely people can be smarter than that."