Verizon says I don’t exist

Have you ever had a customer support experience so bad that it makes you want to cry? I am there. It’s been so bad, that I need to write a post about it, realizing that this is a rather unusual post on my blog.

Thinking of this epic customer support failure, which I’ll explain in detail below, I keep thinking of a quote by Steve Jobs:

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”

To me, customer support of any service is part of the ‘design’ and ‘how it works’. I have now reached a level of frustration with Verizon’s customer support that has me flabbergasted.

Here’s the story:

Our internet connection in the studio has been somewhat spotty from the beginning. We dealt with it. Last week, it went out. Gone. Poof. No more. I first spent an hour trying to log onto Verizon’s online account system, to troubleshoot the matter. No luck. I couldn’t access my account. (Which I have done before numerous times.)

I then spent 2 hours on the phone talking to customer representatives trying to figure out what’s wrong. (Add another 35 minutes onto that for simply trying to talk to a real human being) After I have been transferred 4 times (!!!), spelled my name and my former studiomate’s name a dozen of times, the fourth customer representative, confirmed what all his collegues said as well: I can’t find you in our database. I can’t access your information.

Granted I got an email 10 days ago from Verizon, clearly stating my account number. We tried to access my information via my account number, my email address, my physical address, our former studiomate’s information who initially got the service started. NOTHING.

So, I can’t even troubleshoot because to them, I do not exist as a customer.

I just gave it another try, spent another hour trying to get to talk to someone. I am not kidding, I tried 5 customer support numbers, numerous times, chosing different routes in their selection process and each time, the call was ended by the machine saying, ‘your account does not exist’.

This must be the worst customer service in history. I can’t talk to anyone. I don’t exist. Yet I have proof (email notifications) that I am a customer.

If a Verizon manager reads this, I kindly ask you to give me a call: 646 373 6653. I suggest you take Steve Job’s quote (above) to heart.

UPDATE 1: A customer support person just called and is looking into the matter. I will keep you posted! Preliminary YAY!

UPDATE 2: YES! Ron (customer support ninja) is my hero! I exist! I do really exist! Our internet connection is back! (sigh of relief) But I wholeheartedly agree with Tina Higgins’ comment below:

So having a popular blog to complain on is the only effective way to get Verizon to solve their problem? More power to you, Tina — I’m glad you have used your voice to say something. But please ask what the rest of Verizon customers, who may not have the readership you do, should do when they run into similar roadblocks.

Verizon, what are others to do, that don’t have a popular blog?

54 Comments leave a comment below

  1. Epic fail!

  2. That’s terrible! I hope this gets resolved soon.

  3. Oh! Please keep us updated on what happens!

  4. same all over the world… even in good old switzerland….

  5. I agree that Verizon has the worst customer support on the planet!! We recently moved to a new house and wanted to keep our verizon service. Verizon continually told us that we could not get service at our new location (when our next door neighbor had it). After hours and hours spent on the phone, we finally spoke to a representative (who laughed at the other representatives who told us service was not available) that was able to get things hooked up for us. Good service, HORRIBLE support.

  6. We use Time Warner Business for our phone and internet at our studio in Williamsburg. If you have the possibility to switch to them, I highly recommend them. Service is always reliable, and they provide a dedicated phone number to reach a business customer service rep. Service has always been very good when I’ve needed to use it.

  7. I’ve had good experiences dealing with customer service people via Twitter, of all places.

    Home Depot saw/heard I was frustrated with one of their ceiling fans and the potential problems it could cause for us (house fire). They ordered parts at their cost and had them shipped to me.

    Now, Verizon may or may not be the same, but it’s worth a shot. :)

  8. It’s like (health) insurance companies: You only exist when you’re paying them money, but the minute you try to claim the services you’ve been paying for on time, you suddenly don’t exist. (or they just drop you from coverage)

    This will definitely make me think twice about switching to Verizon should they receive the iPhone in 2011. I hope everything gets straightened out.

  9. And this is why I would NEVER switch from a cable company to Verizon FIOS. Good luck figuring this out – sounds like a nightmare!

  10. This sounds a lot like stories that get featured regularly on Consumerist.com, and some have a happy ending. An Executive E-Mail Carpet Bomb may be in order to save your sanity and get some results. http://consumerist.com/2010/02/i-got-verizon-to-fix-my-internet-with-an-executive-e-mail-carpet-bomb.html

  11. Sheesh!
    I suggest you get your non-existence as a customer confirmed in writing, do a reverse of your payments and switch to a new company.

  12. Get to talk to the Finance department. You surely exist in THEIR records. If you don’t (anymore), I’m sure this can be seen as a case of unilateral contract termination that you must be protected against, and for which they can pay dearly, this being the US.

  13. Projetar Casa Magazine is an online publication about architecture, design and decoration. It can reach any place in the world through an online edition. Easy and free to read. Get involved with a comfortable and pleasant reading, without leaving your seat.

    Read our magazine at http://www.projetarcasamagazine.com or find us in the facebook fan page http://www.facebook.com/ProjetarCasaMagazine

  14. Just yesterday, Facebook told me I did not exist, or rather, that I am not who I say I am, and kicked me off the service. After filling in a form to prove I am who I say I am, they then informed me that fake accounts are not allowed and they would therefore not reactivate my account for any reason.

    This clearly doesn’t help your situation, but hearing that I am not the only one that suddenly doesn’t exist somehow makes me feel a little better.

  15. Are you using the FIOS connection? I had a hell time getting a good tech support number as well. But once I did it was gold (guaranteed real person that can actually help every time). I’ll send you the number if that’s your service level (and once I find it). Hope it gets resolved quickly.

  16. Good luck – I am having a similar experience with GMAC (now Ally bank) trying to get some paperwork from them proving I paid off my car loan. No such luck. All their “customer service” departments are call centers in foreign countries, and they can’t help – all they can do is enter my information in their computer, which goes to another department (whom I cannot contact) and hope that they do what they are supposed to.

    I am about to call their customer care manager, if I can track him down. Five phone calls over 6 weeks and I still do not have anything I can use. That is unacceptable. What is worse is that there is evidence on the internet that it has happened to a bunch of other people too.

    Outsourcing your customer service is a bad idea. Anyone whom your customer can contact should be able to handle the problem or know how to handle the problem, and there should be a way to escalate if something is not being done.

    OH! The kicker – they wanted me to participate in a customer satisfaction survey on my 4th call. When they transferred me, it went to a fast busy signal. “We would like your feedback. Hold just a moment…. HA HA NO WE DON’T YOU IDIOT! WE DON’T NEED YOUR FEEDBACK! WE ARE A LARGE IMPERSONAL CORPORATION! WE HAVE YOUR MONEY NOW!” Jerks.

    Thank you for providing a place for me to vent. Good luck with your situation. I hope you can get it resolved AND get an apology.

  17. You are not alone: http://goo.gl/mZHox

  18. Wow! Sounds like German customer service. The customer service for cable, phone, etc is terrible here and I shed quite a few tears in the past because of frustration. It took 6 weeks (!) to get the internet hooked up. The cable didn’t work at all, but they refused to send somebody over and suggested that I contact a local electrician. And on top of it you have to pay enormous fees to call the customer service. I miss the American customer service, but it seams like there are also some bad ones.

    We call it Servicewüste (service-desert) in Deutschland.

  19. unrelated comment, but what is the web-font used on Steve Jobs quote?

  20. Just had to spend 3 days phoning every office I could find to fix our 800 # with them. They are unreal.

  21. Copy all of your statements and other documents (credit card statements with monthly charges, etc) and FedEx them (trackable) to Verizon. Explain in detail your situation in a letter. Include a self addressed stamped envelope for a response (and include your phone number and email). Surely they cannot deny those documents.

    And if this happened it may not just be you. Perhaps hundreds or thousands of Verizon customers are gone. Poof!

    In the meantime “cancel” your account and get another service. There are bound to be smaller, more customer service oriented companies around.

  22. This happened to me when upgrading my cell phone; I love Verizon, but their customer service is literally THE WORST.

  23. Oh man, I feel for you. We have Verizon internet at home (only because we thought it was the lesser of two evils, Time Warner Cable being the evil-est) and whenever we log onto our account online we are BAFFLED at how long it takes to click through the site to find the My Account area. Terrible UI.

    Hope it works out for you.

  24. So true! At one point several years ago, Verizon decided to start sending all my bills to someone else. Someone in Perth Amboy, NJ started getting all my cell phone bills with all the call history details. They at first denied any mistake, then decided I was trying to steal the account! It took a month to straighten out and I canceled service as soon as the contract was over.

    Verizon will never get a dime from me again. Good to know they haven’t changed a bit.

  25. Tina,

    My name is Debbie Ebalobo and I am a Verizon employee. I apologize for all the issues you have been having. I have forwarded your phone number to Verizon support and they will reach out to you shortly. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

    -Debbie Ebalobo

  26. The bigger the company the worse the service. I had a similar situation with AT&T. They couldn’t find me in their database, yet I was still being billed and with late charges! Very frustrating – hang in there.

  27. agree with Nic, bigger they are, the smaller the amount of “care.” good luck!!

  28. We have verizon for our phones here, not our internet (thank god) but one day our phones just went out. We called verizon, they decided it was a problem with the building. We talked to the building, they said it was a problem with Verizon. Obviously something happened because they were workign and just stopped out of the blue. It took us about a week and a lot of yelling to get it fixed. We don’t even know what magically fixed it.

    My favorite part was just that for some reason it was our problem, yet we had absolutely nothing to do with it and the building owner and verizon didn’t want to figure it out.

  29. Very strange. I’ve been with Verizon for almost 10 years now and have not had any problems. However, I went on their website with the intention of emailing them with a link to this post and it was almost impossible to find the email form. I’m not internet-un-savvy either. But I found it, and forwarded the link. Good luck.

  30. Wow! A customer support person just called and is looking into the matter. I will keep you posted! Preliminary YAY! Thank you @Debbie!

  31. Worst customer service in history, pshaw. Had an AT&T internet experience that lasted 4 weeks, involved having our land line disconnected twice and resulted in never connecting our internet. Finally we went with the local provider, but every time AT&T calls to ask us why we don’t want to switch over, I see red.

  32. “My name is Debbie Ebalobo and I am a Verizon employee. I apologize for all the issues you have been having. I have forwarded your phone number to Verizon support and they will reach out to you shortly. If you have any other questions, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.
    -Debbie Ebalobo”

    How, Debbie? Where is your phone number? Or email? Did she not just say she was frustrated trying to reach to a real person?

    How can she contact you?

    Via the comments on this post?

  33. @Nic: I was able to see Debbie’s email address and got in touch with her. Also, she got a representative to call me. She was superhelpful.

  34. Ditto At&t U-Verse. It took 7 customer service calls, totaling FIVE hours to first get our internet up and running when we moved. 4 people had to come to our house, one of which didn’t show up. Surprise extra charges and they didn’t cancel my previous account and kept billing me for it despite talking to a person requesting to cancel. To boot, once we actually had internet, the speeds were dismal. Worse than dial-up, no joke. After another 3 calls to customer service (2 hours total) I managed to extricate us from our service agreement and cancel entirely. Good effing riddance. We have Comcast now and it’s been a far, far better experience.

    For the record, I tried to reach out to At&T via email and Twitter and got no response. I just really think all ISP providers in the US have either terrible service, terrible pricing, terrible speeds, or all of the above. Jerks!

  35. This is probly your most heavily commented post ever. I think you’r eon to something here.

  36. So having a popular blog to complain on is the only effective way to get Verizon to solve their problem? More power to you, Tina — I’m glad you have used your voice to say something. But please ask what the rest of Verizon customers, who may not have the readership you do, should do when they run into similar roadblocks.

  37. I hope you get everything straightened out. When we were moving to a new apartment, we set up phone and internet ahead of time. When we moved in, our phone service was there, but no DSL. I called and they said there was no record of signing up for DSL. I told them I had, and I had the confirmation number from the email to prove it. It was at that point I was informed that confirmation numbers can’t be used to look up anything. It took us a month to get DSL set up.

    And when we moved out, the shut down the phone line and kept billing us for DSL (which should be impossible).

    Oh, and having any sort of platform on the internet (not just Twitter) is usually enough to have a representative contact you. I think companies have web crawlers specifically built to alert specified personell when someone writes something negative.

  38. I had a similar problem with AT&T. I learned two things from that day-long experience: (1) there is always another way to get into the organization, and (2) there are ninjas inside any organization thrive on fixing the thorny problems. If you have a level-2 problem (like “you aren’t in our database as a customer”), forget about e-mail, online chat, discussion boards or anything else they’ve done to keep you from calling directly. Get them on the phone. Get to the second tier people directly. Ask for the phone numbers that aren’t listed on the web site (there are many of these!). When you find your ninja, he/she might not have the access to fix your problem, but he/she can get you to the next level. Get his/her help and building a strategy to penetrate the organization and get to the person who can fix the problem. There are good people inside any organization. The trick is to get to them so they can fight for you.

  39. Stop paying your bills and find out how quickly you suddenly exist in their system.

    As they say “a company is only as good as their support service”.

  40. I had similar problems – Verizon cancelled my service twice for no reason, and then i had to spend hours on the phone getting it reinstalled – and this was after being a loyal customer for over 10 years. I now use Comcast for Internet, and Vonage for phone, and I am extremely happy with my service. Vonage has the best customer service of ANY COMPANY I have ever used, ever. I do not work for them, I am just a very happy customer.

  41. Sorry to hear about your problems with Verizon. I feel your pain and wish I could help. If using your blog gets you results, then do it.

    You see, it took me 2 (yes, TWO) years to get a phone service cancelled with AT&T. I was past the contract, so cancellation should have been easy. It wasn’t. I’ll spare you the details of the monthly calls that took forever to get to a real person , the letter writing, and the payments for supposedly cancelled services because otherwise collection agencies would pester me with calls. In my case, I wish they had thought I didn’t exist. It taught me it is worth it to wait for an iphone that has service with anyone but AT&T.

  42. I’m so done with Verizon!!! I have been a high speed customer for 4 months and every month there has been an issues with my bill.
    I cancelled my landline and wireless service years ago and decided to give a try again when I moved into my new home. Worse mistake I made!

  43. Tina,

    I am glad everything was taken care of. I wanted to follow-up with some concerns a few of your readers stated. I ran across your blog because Verizon is using social media to help customers every day. I work in social media for Verizon, and I saw a tweet you posted., so I responded. My colleagues and I do the same thing for other customers who need help with service issues or have questions about the Verizon services they use. It doesn’t matter how many Twitter followers they have or whether they blog or not.

    With that said, we are always here to help, and there are many ways to reach us:

    Here are a few resources for customers to reach out to us:

    1. You can go to Verizon’s customer support site (http://bit.ly/aEaJho) to see all the ways to reach us and to chat to an online representative.

    2. You can reach us via some social media channels.

    On Twitter: For wireless support, you can reach out to @vzwsupport & for Internet/FiOS support, you can reach @verizonsupport

    On Facebook there is http://www.facebook.com/VerizonFiOS , and within the page, there is a support tab with customer service reps ready to help.

    3. We also have our In-Home Agent (http://www22.verizon.com/residentialhelp/inhomeagent), which helps FiOS and Verizon High Speed Internet customers solve issues without calling customer support.

    4. The Verizon Community Forums site (http://forums.verizon.com/vrzn/) has also become a popular place for customers to get advice from fellow customers who are technical experts.

    5. And customers can always call us at 1-800-VERIZON (800-837-4966)

    I hope I provided some answers to your readers’ concerns. And, again, I am glad we could help.

    -Debbie
    Verizon, Social Media

  44. I feel your pain, Tina. Had a similarly frustrating experience w/Verizon Wireless (yeah, I know they’re not FiOS, blah, blah, blah) earlier this year.

    Ranted on my blog (http://azzcatdesign.com/blog/business/customer-service-fail) but nothing changed. Might be because I don’t share your readership level! ;-)

    I swear, they all work to outdo each other in horrible customer service!

  45. Vote with your wallet, folks. I had a horrible, horrible experience with Verizon that dragged on for days. Not that TW is much better, but I gladly won’t be fisting over dough to Verizon anymore.

  46. Unfortunately, the only way to action from companies like Verizon is indeed to have a popular blog or be followed by thousands of people on Twitter.

    Sure, it was nice of Debbie to drop a note here and get the ball rolling from the inside, but she only did it because she noticed the public cry of despair from you, not because someone else in her company called her and said ‘Hey, we have this lady here who’s having a hard time of it, can you get her some help’. It doesn’t excuse the fact that you had to spend hours and hours trying to sort out the problem, which has a real, hard cost. I’d send them a bill for your time, at designers’ rates. And make sure it goes to a real person, not just an ‘info@’ mailbox, too. Or ask them for a good-sized credit. In spite of having a couple good employees, Verizon is still the epitome of evil.

  47. a well-known dutch comedian has launched a “campaign” and live stand-up comedy show against the customer service of a particular telephone provider in the netherlands (plus any others that may fit the bill of inefficient, incompetent and rude.)

    he also had his problem solved when he publicly twitted about it. however, he finds unacceptable that his public status helped sorting it out.
    should you be able to understand dutch, just google “youp van ‘t hek” and “t-mobile”.

    ninja

  48. Haha, I was just thinking about this Ninja! Youp will publish a one-time glossy magazine that deals with matters like these. He basically declared war to companies like T-Mobile. He has done this before with a brand of alcohol-free beer he just found to horrible to drink. The brand did go out of business.

  49. “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” I believe cordially. I will share with my friends to collect their views. great post.

  50. Verizon is the worst. Their service is great, but when it goes out, good luck!

    I had one of their reps get mad at me because I use a Mac! Also because I use Firefox.

  51. Have had verizon DSL since 2003. On 12/15/10 it went down. Have spent the last 6 days on the phone to tech support. Have had 2 line repair calls cancelled by robo call who leaves messages that the problem is in the Central Office. The people sho claim they are the Central Office demand that tecnhical support deal with the issue. Variously my DSL account is ‘inactive’ ‘active’ ‘cancelled’ or working the way it is intended to work.

    Oh the tech support team in India wanted me tio leave the light blinking on the Verizon modem blinking until the repair tech arrived to give the place a Christmasy feeling.

    Verizon employs moronic sadists. I would not be surprised if the entire Verizon technical support team is a thitd part contract using prison labor.

  52. Verizon Consumer Services Sucks!!! Stay away from Verizon, I got sucker into the so called Verizon Triple Play – whereas Verizon had Direct TV to installed my cable but of course the Direct TV representative came to install timely but Verizon Representative rescheduled and it has been a nightmare every since. Verizon I receives a bill from Direct TV and a bill from Verizon monthly which totals $70. more than the bundle. To top it off Verizon is now telling me that they can not bill my services as a bundle because I do not have my cell phone service with them (a big joke). Let add more to this mess – both Direct TV and Verizon has separate terminate fees.

  53. Hi, I just recently found your blog- and I must say it’s awesome!- and when I found this post it felt weird. Why? Becuase I am a CSR-Customer Service Representative- for MCI, an associate company to Verizon. I completely understand your frustration, (and here is when everybody says that we tell that to everyone and we don’t do anything to solve the problem) but it’s the absolute truth! We as CSReps feel the same frustration you feel!! It’s our job to solve your problem, but I’d say 90% of the times, we are not given the tools to do it!! It’s frustrating for us to have someone on the phone for ever and have to tell them that we don’t have access to their accounts or that the system is down…or any of the other “excuses” people think we’re giving. I’m from Argentina, and of course my English has a very heavy accent which makes things worse. I help on average 65 customers a day, and believe me, it’s sometimes annoying that customers blame you for all the problem. At first, you really try to help, but after 30 people cursing, yelling, threatening at you….you give up. I completely agree on the fact that huge companies as Verizon, MCI and others of the sort do not spend any money to provide better service, and it is also true that they hire people overseas to save money on salaries, but that does not make the customer service representatives the ones to blame!! We just do our best, with the little tools that we’re given.

  54. Yeah so the employees of Verizon admit that they are hired without the ability or the authority or the simple capacity to resolve customer service matters–so customer service is simply a fraudulent service designed and intended to dupe the hapless consumer. Somehow I think that the federal government might have some interest in major companies that apparently defraud consumers so readilty.

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