Wednesday, February 01, 2006

DSLimbo, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Hate Verizon

Hate is probably too strong a word for the persistent feeling that Verizon has cultivated in me toward them. It vacillates between deep apathy and deep, malignant dislike and irritation.

And I wasn't going to gripe about our current state of DSLimbo since we brought it on ourselves--and that's not what I'm griping about here. What has raised my malignant dislike to a festering sore is how Verizon did business with us when it comes to DSL, which isn't that different from how they conduct the rest of their business with us.

Did I mention that we're switching back to Earthlink, even though it's more expensive?

My observations thus far:
1. Verizon office hours closely approximate banker's hours. If you want to talk to someone, you're going to have to take time out of your work day to do it. Have a question that you need answered before you buy a product such as, say, DSL? You'll have to get it answered on their schedule, not at your convenience.
2. Verizon has as many phone numbers, it appears, as there are grains of sand on all the beaches throughout the world, and if you call the wrong one, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to get transferred from one to the next.
3. Verizon has as many websites, it appears, as there are grains of sand on all the beaches throughout the world, and each one has different features, navigation, and features, and offers different services. They do not, as a rule, link to one another.
4. Verizon has an unswavering faith in technology, such as voice recognition and phone menus. Unfortunately for Verizon and any potential customers, that technology is not as unswavering in its support of Verizon. For example, stating that your interest is "DSL" will lead you to information on wireless services. And, if you follow through all the layers of their voice menus at a time when all of the customer service representatives are busy with other customers, the voice menu system will tell you so, tell you that they don't have the time to answer your questions right now, and then hang up on you.
5. Verizon offers DSL for about half of what other ISPs offer it for, but they don't have enough ports in certain areas, like the one that our house is in, to provide DSL to everyone who wants it. It's a reminder that you get what you pay for and that Verizon is cheap.

I'm sure that I've learned more than this from these experiences, although I never seem to learn the true lesson: once burned, twice shy.

Or, in this case, as a customer, trapped in the burning lake of fire that is Verizon customer relations, there's no need to open the window to see how hot it is outside.


  1. You know, Kohl's also has a similar "customer service" problem (so hard to call it that when they're hardly providing any support to their customers). I had to call them a few weeks for a question about my account. When I received an email saying that my monthly bill was ready, the website also said that my payment for the previous month was "overdue." I was confused. I always pay my bills in full, on time. So I tried calling their customer service phone number (this was urgent - no time to wait for them to return an email to me!) but after following the prompts and entering my acct. #, etc., the menu stated that if I didn't like any of their options and wanted to talk to a real person, TOO BAD. Everyone's busy right now. Call back later. And then it hung up on me.

    I was like "What the hell just happened here?!?" What ever happened to holding on the line until the next available operator was available???

    Awful. Just awful.

  2. I know that they're cutting costs by forcing us to their websites, but the problem is that their websites are just as horrible as their phone systems (ironic that the phone company has such bad phone systems, from the thousands of numbers, to the lack of staff, to the Byzantine menu systems, oh, and did I mention that it hangs up on you when it's too busy to help you?).

    It's not that uncommon though. Our bank has hundreds of different products, each with its own phone number, website, account number, log in, password, etc. And, yes, I've asked, but there's no way to integrate all of them in one place. To their credit, however, we can get most of our information in one place, and they do transfer our calls to any department, as many times as we need.

    I think that Verizon still operates with a monopoly mentality, even though they are several times removed from the AT&T monopoly legacy. They act as if there's no competition, which is true, to an extent, and as if there is no regulatory oversight, which is true, since they own so many legislators. Not a good combination for the customers.

    I don't think they read the Cluetrain Manifesto. If they did, they'd know that their customers talk, and that all that talk adds up.