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Verizon is now on the Black List

February 6th, 2006 started a short, yet blissful relationship with Verizon. That was the day FiOS internet service arrived at my house. At the low introductory rate of $29.95/mo I was in fat city. I knew this was a limited-time offer so I was not surprised to see my monthly bill increase by $5/mo after my initial year was up. So for the past year and a half, my rate has been a low $34.95/mo and I was still thinking I was doing well. Until this afternoon when I received an email saying that my latest statement had been posted. I noticed it was about $10 more than usual. That's odd. I get on the phone and demand an explanation. You see, I never received an email, letter, phone call, or anything indicating a price hike. And so far, I have never met ANY utility bill that is actually self explanatory. I am not a rocket scientist, but I do have a post-graduate degree. My problem is that I see a higher bill than usual and it takes Verizon 1 1/2 hours, seven phone transfers, four departments, one disconnect and one returned call to finally figure out that they don't know what is going on.

This is where it gets tricky because Verizon's customer service and billing departments are fundamentally broken. You see, when I signed up for FiOS, I dropped my land-line phone plan. I picked up a much sweeter Vonage plan for half the price. There is nothing I hate more than recurring monthly fees, and Vonage has the best pricing structure ever. One low price, all the feature. But I digress. Because I dropped phone service with Verizon, they no longer have a phone number associated with my account. Well, they still have record of my phone number from back when I had phone and DSL service with them, but that account was closed long ago. So when they ask me for my phone number, I give it to them. It turns out that when you have a billing problem, you shouldn't call the billing department, you should call the FiOS technical suport department. I give them my phone number, but that drags up my old account for when I had DSL. All they hear is internet and transfer me to the DSL department. When I finally catch on to what is happening, I tell the lady that I don't have phone or DSL, only FiOS and she transfers me to some long lost department in India where the customer service representative can't understand me and I can't understand or hear him. It sounds like he is talking to me on a hand-held radio or a bad cellphone connection. After confirming that my problem is not his, he sends me back to the FiOS department. No wait, I shout, I have already been there. But it is too late. Back with some other incompetent customer service representative. I try to explain what has been going on and how I have been transferred four times already so they know where I am coming from. I explain the whole no Verizon phone service bit, try to get them to understand that my account number REALLY is what it says on the invoice I get every month, and all I get is let me transfer you to billing to see if we can get this figured out. I get transferred again, but this time, it says all the lines are busy, call back another time, and then disconnects me. GAAAaaaaahhhhhh!!!! As I furiously dial the numbers again, I am trying really hard to calm down so I don't scream at the next person that talks to me. Georgia answers the phone and seems very polite and apologetic for the whole mess I am going through. She can find my account, but does not seem to be able to find my invoice. She seems to understand my no Verizon phone service predicament and gives me a direct phone number for the department that can best suit customers in my boat. For those in that boat, the number would be 888-338-9333. Since she can't help me, she transfers me to Sandy. While sandy seems nice and all, she can't really figure out what is going on. After ten minutes of talking to her and sitting on hold, she says, 'Can I call you back?' Okay, I guess. She calls me back in half an hour. Sure enough, they say they sent me an email telling me about the price increase. I quickly check my mauery@verizon.net (yes, please spam that one and bog down their mail servers) email account and find an empty inbox. No email. No warning. Nothing in snail mail either. So basically, I wasted an hour and a half of my life to find out that Verizon customer service employs imbeciles and they are out to screw every last cent out of all their customers. In the end, I had Sandy and her supervisor confused why even with a price increase I am paying less on a monthly plan than the current price for their annual contract. No doubt now I am on the 'why is this customer not giving us enough money list'.

Since I am already paying less than any other Verizon FiOS plan, I don't have any Verizon alternatives and Comcast charges at least that much. So I don't really have a choice unless I wanted to drop broadband internet altogether. If I wasn't addicted to the internet I might consider it. Stick it to The Man.