First, let me start off by saying that I didn’t intend to blog about this, as much as contact Verizon to complain. But I can’t even figure out a way to do so. When I try the “Email Us” form, there is (a) no option to say “Complain about horrible experience,” or even to complain about anything, and (b) if I select something tangentially relevant, it redirects me to a page asking me to chat with a robot. If I call, I get routed nonsensically. I went to post on Twitter, but 140 characters is grossly insufficient. So here I am, ranting on my blog.
My credit card recently expired. I received no notification, but I’ve never gotten any email from Verizon. But I knew the card was expired, so I went in to renew it. The user interface was terrible and doesn’t work properly in Firefox (?!), but I was able to make do despite overlapping text and such. I finally found what I was looking for, buried in a submenu of a submenu. (Shouldn’t there have been an alert box – “Your card on file is expired! Please update it now!”?) The first time I put my credit card number in, I pressed Submit, and was taken to some wholly irrelevant page. I scratched my head for a minute, and navigated back to see if my changes were saved. Nope. In fact, I was told I didn’t have any cards on file. I tried again, but was told that my card wasn’t accepted and that I should verify the information. After checking it three times, I was positive that what I entered was correct, so I decided to call Verizon.
A robot picked up the phone and asked if I was calling regarding [my cell phone number]. This was kind of bizarre. I pressed 2 for “No,” and it then asked what number I was calling about. I hung up, thinking maybe I had Verizon Wireless. But I double-checked: the phone number I had was the one the site directed me to. So I called back, and this time said that it was the number I was calling about. There was some elevator music, a few rings, and then, a pre-recorded message telling me that Fairpoint has taken over for Verizon, and I needed to call Fairpoint at some 800-number. Then it hung up on me.
My cell phone number has a New Hampshire area code, and Fairpoint did indeed buy up Verizon in New Hampshire. But I live in Massachusetts, and do, indeed, have Verizon FiOS. So I called again, and said “No” when asked if I was calling about my cell phone number. Then it asked me what number I was calling about, and I cursed. Do I just make up a number? But then it added, “If you don’t know, say, ‘I don’t know.'” I thus claimed — twice in a row — that I didn’t know my own phone number, and eventually, rang through to someone.
Of course, the person who picked up began by asking me my phone number, but at least I had a human who I could try to explain the situation to.
“603? Are you calling from New Hampshire?”
“No! The system kept hanging up on me and telling me to call Fairpoint. I’m in Massachusetts, but I kept my NH cell phone.”
“This is a cell phone? I need your landline number. I can’t look up a cell phone number.”
“I don’t have a landline! This is the number I used on the account.”
“Oh, huh… So you have a New Hampshire number but are calling about Massachusetts?”
“Yes.” (Well, I’m not calling about Massachusetts. I’m calling about my billing information, but whatever.)
“I see. What can I help you with today?”
“My credit card for AutoPay is expired. I tried to update it with a new one online, but kept receiving an error message.”
“Oh, this is about billing? I need to transfer you to [gibberish].”
[Several minutes go by on hold, before someone for whom English is clearly not their first language picks up]
“Thank you for calling Verizon Wireless. What is your phone number, starting with the area code?”
[I tell them]
“603? It says that is New Hampshire. You need to call Fairpoint.”
“No! I don’t live in New Hampshire. I live in Massachusetts. My cell phone just has a New Hampshire prefix.”
“This is a cell phone? I can’t do a cell phone. What is your account number?”
“Umm… Well, I’m on your website, and it only shows the last four.”
“Do you have a bill?”
“No, you guys have never sent me any mail. I’m looking more on the site now.”
“Okay…” (with a sigh)
“Oh, here it is! [I read off a 20-digit number]”
“I am not finding your account.”
“What is your email?”
Reading my email took — no joke — five minutes, because she misunderstood most of the letters I said, and then we started reading them back phonetically. (I used NATO Phonetics, she used some sort of custom ones that were hard to understand in her thick accent.) And she still got it wrong the first try.
“Okay, there we go. Your phone number is 787- …. Is that correct?”
“No! That’s not even close.” [I quickly Google “787 area code” and find out that it’s Puerto Rico]
“That is your old phone number?”
“No! It is completely wrong.”
“Okay. What is your phone number? I will update it.”
“Do you have the right account? Does it say Matt Wagner?”
“Oh! I see now. You have FiOS?”
“The account is different.”
“What can I help you with?”
“I need to update my credit card on file. My old one expired and the website gives an error when I try to do it.”
“It says your credit card is expired?”
“No, my credit card IS expired. I am trying to put in my new one.”
“Okay, what is your dog?”
“What is [complete gibberish]?”
“I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you’re saying at all.”
“I am asking you a security question! What is your dog’s name?”
“Oh! [I answer]”
“Thank you. Please go to www.whitehouse.com”
“W. W. W. Dot. [complete gibbersish]”
“I’m sorry. I can’t understand you.”
“W! W! W! Dot! V-E-R-I-Z-O-N! Dot! Com!”
“Oh! Verizon! That makes much more sense. But I’m already there and having trouble. That’s why I’m calling.”
“Please log in with the username [my username]”
“Yes, I’m already logged in.”
“Do you remember your password?”
[clenched teeth] “Yes. I’m logging in now.”
[I tap idly on the keyboard, take a few deep breaths, and reply] “Okay, I’m logged in!”
“Please click on Account Overview!”
“Okay.” (In actuality, there is no “Account Overview” on the interface I’m using, but since she’s not listening to me anyway, I pretend to follow along]
“Now, do you see Pay a Bill?”
“Okay. Click on that and put in the amount.”
“I did that earlier. It told me my credit card was invalid. That’s why I called.”
“Don’t put your credit card in the first box. Put in the amount. Only put in the amount of money you owe.”
I again stop trying to explain and just go along with the flow.
“Okay, I did that. Now what?”
“Do you see Select Payment?”
“Put in your credit card information.” [She reads off all the fields rapid-fire]
Even though I have done this twice and failed, I go along anyway.
“Okay, I just did that and pressed Pay Now. And it says, ‘Invalid credit card.'”
“Did you enter your credit card number?”
“Yes! That’s the whole problem! It keeps telling me it’s invalid! It’s not!”
“Okay, you need to talk to billing. Their number is [rattled off way too fast for me ot even comprehend]. Thank you. Good bye.”
“Wait! What was the number again?”
[rattled off even faster]
“I’m sorry, you’re going too fast. Can you read it one more time?”
[she now reads it one number at a time and waits for me to acknowledge each]
“Okay, got it! Thanks.”
“Please hold. I’m transferring you.”
“Oh…” (I wish you had told me that sooner. But, come to think of it, I’m glad you didn’t, because now I can skip over this horrible step next time I need to call.)
It rings a bit, and finally someone picks up. She speaks perfect English and, it turns out, is only a few miles away from me.
“What is your phone number?”
[I give the cell phone number on my account]
“603? Are you calling from New Hampshire?”
“No! I live in Massachusetts. I kept my cell phone when I moved.”
“This is a cell phone? I can only look accounts up by landline.”
“I don’t have a landline. This is the number I used on the account.”
“It’s not showing up in my system… Can I have your account number?”
“Okay, I still have it up from last time, I think… It’s masked out on the website, by the way. Oh, here it is!” [I read it off]
“Okay. Let me update it with your cell phone… It looks like she tried to change it earlier…”
“Okay, I’ve updated it. What can I help you with?”
“I’m trying to update the expiration date of my credit card. It rejects my card if I try online, and the previous two people haven’t been able to help.”
“Okay, let me pull up your billing information.”
“Huh… It’s not letting me edit it. It’s like nothing is working right here today.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean!”
“Let me transfer you to billing. They close in a few minutes, so I’m going to go fast.”
“Oh God. Okay.”
Fortunately, though, the fourth person I spoke to was able to help me, in maybe 60 seconds’ time. The third person was polite, but I’m not sure why Verizon thought to set her up without the ability to actually do anything customers need done. Here are a few suggestions:
- If someone calls from an area code indicating that they live in an area you don’t serve, you might verify that they actually live there before hanging up on them. Numbers have been portable for a long time. You might also train your CSRs about this fact.
- I’m not one of those people that gets hot and bothered that I talked to an Indian. However, when the person I’m speaking with can’t communicate in English, there’s a problem. Especially when they can’t even pronounce your company’s name.
- It would be awesome if your site worked in Firefox.
- It would be awesome if your system didn’t consider my credit card — which was already on file, just with an old expiration date — to be invalid.
- It would be awesome if the person I talked to the first time could help me. I talked to four people to update one piece of basic billing information, and it took me 28 minutes.
- If I need to give my account information, why is it masked out on the website?
- It would be awesome if there were some other way to contact you about these things. Live Chat is with a bot. The email form forcibly diverts me to someone else. The phone system hangs up on me.