Oil And Water: Verizon And Customer Service

Oil And Water: Verizon And Customer Service

Tehrani, Rich

You would think that after spending over $400 for a Blackberry, I would be considered a premium purchaser of some sort. This is apparently not the case if you are a Verizon customer. I must say that without a doubt, Verizon has the best U.S. wireless network, bar none. Equally incredible is the stupidity they employ in their customer service policies.

Following is a case in point. Five weeks ago, I personally called Verizon and ordered a Blackberry handheld for one of my TMC team members. The process went well. I had great customer service from the salesperson, who was both knowledgeable and helpful.

When the device arrived, it held a charge for only a day and a half, even though usage was light. After about five weeks, I decided to call and attempt to get the problem resolved, I connected with the department that sold me the device, and they transferred me to tech support. After about 20 minutes, a tech support person (who was also very courteous) told me I needed a new battery.

“Excellent,” I said. “Please send me a new one.” If only life was so easy. I was instructed to speak with customer service, which would need to gather some information before proceeding. Once connected, I gave them the appropriate information. I was told after about 20 to 30 minutes of waiting that I needed to go to a Verizon store to purchase a battery.

I told them,”That is a great solution, but most of the Verizon stores I have visited don’t carry Blackberries, so I doubt they carry batteries for them.” The customer service person, who once again was very pleasant and helpful, told me she would call stores in the area to which I was traveling and let me know which stores sold the needed battery.

Thirty minutes later, my phone rang.”Mr. Tehrani, no store in your area carries the battery.” I though this was fine. I subsequently requested that the new battery be mailed to me. I was told that if they mailed me a battery, they would charge me $60 plus shipping. I mentioned that I had been sent a defective battery, and asked, “Why can’t you mail me a new one?” After all, I had purchased the device by phone. No luck. The procedure, I was told, was to go to the nearest dealer and have a technician inspect the device. The technician would then order the battery, and it would be necessary for me to go back and pick up the battery when it arrived!

I thought to myself that if I treated my customers like this for a month, I would be out of business. How does any company set policies like this? I don’t feel like a Verizon customer, I feel like an enemy.

Still, the people with whom I interacted at this company were first-rate. They would make any company proud. It is the policies of this company that are beyond my understanding. I need more Blackberries for my company. I don’t want to give Verizon another dime. In fact, I want to cancel all my phone service with the company. Perhaps when the Cingular/AT&T merger goes through, the combined network will be of equal coverage to that of Verizon.

I hope this is the case, as I cannot ever recommend working with a company that sets such ridiculous customer service policies. Do you have a Verizon or other service provider horror story? Relate them to me in our forums online on TMCnet.com. I would love to hear your opinions.

T-Mobile Has Its Issues

I had some time to kill in the car recently, so I decided to resolve some problems I had with T-Mobile. My first issue is that when I call customer service, I must enter a telephone number and the last four digits of the primary account holder’s social security number. Easy enough? Sure, but we have a corporate account, so no social security number is on file. If you decide to enter a phone number like the system requests, you are forced to enter the social security number digits. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to put in your number and waste time on the phone trying to outsmart the IVR, only to find that not even your cleverest tricks will get you to a live agent until you hang up and call again. This time, you must remember to be silent. Don’t enter anything, or the system will know that you have touch-tone dialing, and you are forced to go through the loop of insanity outlined above.

So when I finally reached an agent, question number one was, “How can I avoid your asinine IVR system, as I have a corporate account?” I was told simply to enter the last four digits of my tax I.D. number. Simple enough, I guess. I haven’t tried this, but I will remember this tip in the future.

On to my next question. I have been using the MMS (multimedia messaging) feature of my phone to send audio e-mails to coworkers and others for months. One day, I realized that my messages weren’t getting through. I also realized that messages sent to my phone were often corrupted. I asked if there was a systemwide problem, as I have experienced the same symptoms in four other U.S. states. I was told that in fact, there was a problem and I needed to be patient. “Excellent,” I responded. “I will be patient. When will you fix it?” I was told they didn’t know. “OK,” I asked, “How will I know when it’s fixed?” I was told that I need to just keep trying. Do I expect too much from my service providers? Is it just me? Am I overly demanding?

I am using my cell phone to run a business and make decisions that could cost millions of dollars. I discover that T-Mobile knows that my messages are being lost occasionally, and they are keeping the problem a secret. Worse, when they fix it, it will also be a secret. Again, am I overly demanding? Do I have the problem? I am beginning to think so.

In Password Hell With A Caffeine Buzz

Here’s my final issue. The last two times I tried to access WiFi in Starbucks, I couldn’t get onto the system. I have had an account for years, but for some reason, I just can’t get on to purchase a single day pass. I have spent two hours trying to figure out how to buy this single-day pass. In both cases, I gave up and tried a new account. Due to what is my own error, I try a user name that is taken already…I suspect by myself. Realizing that my user name is in the system, I get inspired and try once again to sign up for a day pass. Somehow, my password is never right. I never want to call customer service or support for obvious reasons.

As I write this article from my hotel room, I decided to visit www.t-mobile.com/ hotspot and try again. I can’t get in. This could be my fault. I may have mentally misplaced my password. I can’t find an option to have the password e-mailed to me, either, which is pretty frustrating. So to give them the benefit of the doubt, I sent customer service an e-mail telling them I forgot my password. I received an automated message telling me that they will respond within 24 hours. This would be great news if I was at Starbucks…I imagine I could have a pulse of 250 and the caffeine buzz of a lifetime waiting that long.

I was eventually informed via e-mail that my password had been e-mailed as an SMS to my mobile phone. It never arrived. I sent an e-mail back to them, informing them of this. The saga continues.

Let’s get back to the tech support call. I was told that I could bundle the WiFi service into my cellular service for $20 per month. The only problem is that I am rarely at Starbucks more than twice a month, which doesn’t justify the expense. To get this wrapped up, however, I decided to go ahead and pay the extra money to get off the phone. After all, I had been on the line for 30 minutes dealing with these issues.

I relented.”Sure. I give in… I will pay,” I replied meekly. As the deal was being wrapped up, I asked, “By the way, what is my user name and password?” The agent responded, “I’ll have to get back to you on that, please hold.” I mentioned that I was late for a meeting, and asked to be called back, which Verizon had just done for me. “Sir, I cannot do that,” I was told. “As soon as I hang up, I’ll receive another call.” The wonders of ACD technology, I thought. I have spent two hours trying to resolve this password issue and am no closer to solving it. I hear McDonalds is coming out with WiFi now. Perhaps it’s time to switch coffee houses and while I’m at it, I’ll save a few dollars per cup.

Let’s end this saga with a moral. Perhaps the best one is, “Please don’t give me garbage for customer service.” OK, that isn’t classy enough. How about “Great agents need great policies to give great CRM?” Or, “Don’t handicap your best agents” or “Deploy CRM-friendly policies to keep happy customers.” I think I’ve got it. “You need courteous agents and courteous policies to keep your customers coming back.”


Rich Tehrani

Group Publisher, Group Editor-in-Chief


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By: Rich Tehmni,

Group Editor-in-Chief,

Technology Marketing Corporation

Rich Tehrani

Group Publisher, Group Editor-in-Chief


Copyright Technology Marketing Corporation May 2004

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