Verizon Strikes (Out) Again

January 18, 2008

By Karen

My mother is Verizon’s newest enemy.

She had been clinging to dial-up Internet until she was forced recently to replace her old computer. The day we went shopping, a friendly Verizon representative was in Best Buy offering a FIOS upgrade of phone, TV, and Internet for $99.99 and $100 off the purchase of a PC. It was an offer my mother couldn’t refuse.

And she’s regretted it ever since.

First, the FIOS installation took over 7 hours. Then she kept having problems with Internet access. It turned out the installer wired some things backward.

Verizon has been shoving FIOS down everyone’s throat for months, but they still manage to make every home installation seem like it’s the first one they’ve ever done.

My mother had to wait a few months to get a “clean” bill, without any straggling days, to find out the true bottom line on her FIOS upgrade. Phone and cable companies always act as if taxes and fees are negligible pennies and refuse to quote them, but they always add a hefty chunk to the total.

It turned out she was being charged more than $99.99. So she called Verizon and, after waiting on hold for 20 minutes (much better than the 105 minutes she spent trying to cancel her old Verizon dial-up line), the customer service rep couldn’t explain the discrepancy, but had the nerve to say, “Even so, you’re still getting a good deal.”

At those words, my mother hung up and began composing a letter to the State Corporation Commission.

Bad service, bad billing, bad customer service. With Verizon, you get it all.


No Escape from Telecommunication Hell

October 30, 2007

By Karen

I made several technological leaps recently. Out of thriftiness, I switched my phones from Verizon to Cavalier. A smooth-talking Comcast CSR named Sheila persuaded me to upgrade cable TV from analog to digital. And with glee I abandoned dial-up for high-speed Internet access with Clearwire.

Two out of three decisions I lived to regret.

Clearwire was the only company who delivered as promised. I had their modem within 24 hours, it took seconds to install, and it worked perfectly. They’ve billed me exactly what they quoted.

Not so with Comcast. I was told digital would cost about $5 more a month, but it’s actually $15.

The new digital box compelled me to shell out another $250 for a VHS/DVD recorder to replace my analog VCR and a DVD player.

I was getting lousy reception on NBC and the Food Network, so I called for service. Comcast replaced my digital box without telling me, which caused the universal remote to stop working with my new DVD recorder, and I can’t fix it. Then they billed me $24.95 for the call, like it was my fault their “upgrade” botched up two channels.

My honeymoon with digital TV was brief. Channels jerk and skip content. HBO goes black for extended periods. On Demand isn’t always available. TV has become hit-or-miss.

But Cavalier Telephone took dishonesty and incompetence to new heights. They started me off with no phone service for three days. During that time, I spent literally hours on hold on my 10-cents-a-minute-only-for-emergencies prepaid cell phone, only to have Cavalier do nothing when they finally did answer but blame Verizon.

When the phones started working, some significant functionality was missing. This inferior service ultimately cost more than Verizon because Cavalier failed to quote $27 in additional monthly taxes and questionable charges, like the extra $8 per month per line to use phone lines.

The only time Cavalier excelled was in disconnecting me yesterday when I crawled back to Verizon. I had no phone for another half-day while I waited for rescue. Verizon, playing their upper hand, forced me into a FIOS upgrade, but at least I got all my calling features back.

So, now I hear a tinny echo when I talk, and God knows what FIOS is really going to cost. Verizon sold me unlimited long-distance to ease the pain.

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