Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Can You Hear Me Now?

Hi. I'm back. I'm sorry I've let my blog lay fallow, if there are any people out there in cyberspace who rely on my whining and kvetching to lift their spirits. "At least I'm not as bad as her!" Misery loves...someone who has it worse.

Anyway, it could only be so long before I would be pissed off enough about something to make time to spew it on my blog. And so I am. I hate Verizon. I loathe that monolithic, greedy, bureaucratic monopoly inside-out.

Our phone lines at Kelly's office have never been optimal. They have failed many times. But waaaayyyy back in June, one line failed completely and the other was spotty. After several attempted repairs, finally a repairman told my mother-in-law, as I listened, that Verizon would have to come and lay new cable. There was no way, he said, that these lines would work.

Well. A week or two went by, but no repairman came out to lay cable. At this point, I can't begin to relate all the phone calls and repairs (or "repairs") that began to happen, but the end point was this: The fax line was dead as Arizona road kill for six weeks and the phone line had several periods of no service. However, I was completely and totally unable to get anyone in that despicable company to reduce the charges in a corresponding way. Apparently, right around the time that the repairman came and said they would need to lay new cable, they closed the file as a done deal. So, according to their records, they only have something like a week in June and one in July written down as no service.

I've wasted an astounding amount of time on the phone with Verizon during these months, either trying to get someone to come fix the line for certain and for good or trying to get an appropriate credit to our bill. In the first place, they have that maddening voice-activated routing system, "Say 'repairs'; Say 'pay bill'; Say 'purchase services'..." But never will they tell you how to reach a person. Here is a tip: Say "Customer Service". They won't ever offer that as an option, but it does route you a little more quickly to a person. During one call, I asked the clerk if there was a direct line I could call to get her again, so I would not have to continuously re-explain this whole story and she said, "No." During another call, the billing department said I would have to speak to repairs if I had a discrepancy about how long the phone line was out and when they transferred me to repairs, guess what they said? "We have nothing to do with your bill. If you have a problem with your bill, you have to speak to billing." Explaining that they just sent me from there helped not at all. Back I went, only to be told again that billing cannot adjust a bill unless repairs agrees that the line was out during that time.

I called when my first bill arrived while the line was still broken. I said I wanted credit, since the line had been broken for this entire billing cycle. That's not how they do it, I was told. I am to pay the bill and when the line is fixed, then they will issue the credit. Say what? I told them I would not do that. I am not going to pay in advance for a service that was not rendered, only to have to call back and beg for a credit. And as it happened, they didn't issue the correct credit anyway.

The bill went unpaid. I told my partners that I was just going to pay it and accept that they screwed us. It was not worth the aggravation. It was worth the $40 to not have to mess around with it any more. Well, my partners were not thrilled. What about the principle involved here? You're just going to pay what you don't rightly owe so you can be done with it? Yes, I confirmed. I care about the time I'm wasting and the emotional toll it takes more than I care about fighting for the principle and forty bucks. So, my partner said he would try and get a decent credit back.

But he didn't succeed. And he really didn't have the time to waste on it, either. One call, he asked to speak to a manager and they hung up on him. Another, he asked to speak to a manager and they wouldn't transfer him.

So, last week, I said to him, "We have to pay this damn bill or they are going to turn off the phone." Two minutes later, Kelly calls me and says, "What is wrong with that stupid fax now? I tried to have someone send a fax and it says it's disconnected!"

Oh. Great.

So, today, I open the mail and there is a notice of termination, saying they will terminate service this coming Saturday if they don't receive payment. Interesting, since service is already terminated. So, through my seething anger, I have to call this god-forsaken company yet again and try to get the service reinstated. (I paid the bill last week.) Again with the passing around. Again with, "I don't have anything to do with that if financial services still has a disconnect flag on your account." And then passed back, "We show your balance at zero, so it's up to repairs to reinstate your service now."

After this going on for about twenty minutes, I finally got to the only human being with a soul that works for that tyrannical behemoth. Mrs. King. God, I love Mrs. King. Although she was not much more able to do anything than anyone else had been, she seemed to be trying, a first in my experience. And she seemed to care, another first. Bless her heart, she told me that she would try the number herself first thing tomorrow morning and if it had not been reinstated yet, she would personally call my cell and tell me there was still trouble. Miraculously, they did come through and reinstated the line today and Mrs. King left a message on my cell, just letting me know.

This is my tale about the danger of monopoly. What option is there for phone service that does not include that despicable company, Verizon? Don't they own all the cable, all the repairmen, all the trucks, all the lines? (Someone out there might now be screaming "Vonage!" and maybe that is the answer, but I'm still too techno-stupid to be sure how to make that happen.)

So, Verizon - Can you hear me now? You are the lowest of dust-eating vermin. I am convinced that you make it so difficult to get appropriate customer service on purpose because you know that people will come to the conclusion I did - that it is better to cut my losses and pay your damn bill than to waste literally hours trying to get an unjust charge settled. I spit in your face. You are what is wrong with humankind. You are greedy and insensitive. May it all blow up in your smug, rude face.