A letter to Verizon Wireless

This is the letter I submitted to Verizon wireless. It went to the store manager, the regional sales rep, and both listed CEOs (one by BBB, one by Verizon themselves) at all three addresses that I found for their headquarters. Additionally, it went to the BBB and the customer service email address in reduced format.

Enjoy! I’ll let you know the outcome.

17 March 2010

My Name
My Address

Account No. XXXXXX

Lowell McAdam
President and CEO
Verizon Wireless
30 Independence Blvd.
Warren, NJ 07059

Dear Mr. McAdam,

I have been a loyal Verizon Wireless customer for almost ten years now. When I received my first Verizon Wireless, a Nokia Brick way back in 2001, I used to laud the coverage that your company provided. I could take the phone anywhere, do anything to it, and still make a call. Your service has followed me all over the country as a navy submariner, including a change of account number while I deployed. I had been completely satisfied with your service, until this past year.

I received my new LG enV 2 in May 2009, and thoroughly enjoyed using it. It’s a good phone, with a few small software limitations. Sadly, in December of 2009, my LCD broke. I took the phone into the Verizon location at 5001 25th Ave NE in Seattle, Washington, where an associate named Luis told me that he could do nothing for me except offer me a new phone at a 1 year contract price. I had skimmed your website, and was fairly certain that you replaced phones with a broken LCD for fifty dollars, but I wasn’t sure. The fact that the LCD broke in everyday usage was fairly distressing to begin with, but to be told that I “must have done something to it, since I have the same phone and it’s never broken,” was a bit insulting. Not all of us are paid to wear fancy belt clasps to work for our phones. Regardless, I wasn’t sure of the replacement policy, so I left frustrated. When I arrived home, I found the website, printed it out, and went back a couple days later.

This time, I arrived at the store at 7:55pm, according to my phone’s clock (which is set by your service). The door to the store was locked, despite there being people inside and the hours on the door claiming it would be open until 8:00pm. The associate inside (not Luis) would not answer the door.

I came back the next day at 7:00pm, and they were open. Armed with the website’s policy printed out, the associate (still not Luis) happily offered me the fifty dollar replacement option. I was relieved, and my “Refurbished, 100 point check, Guaranteed” phone arrived a couple days later by FedEx. I transferred pictures and contacts and sent the phone back to your warehouse.

This phone lasted two or three months. In late January, the keys on the front panel just quit working all together. I took the phone in and asked for another one. This was easily accomplished, however my billing cycle would have to be edited and corrected. I had asked for a couple weeks of Canadian coverage, since I was headed to the Olympics in Vancouver, but they couldn’t give me a new phone with a billing change scheduled for the future. “No problem,” they said, “just don’t forget to call and cancel the Canadian coverage when you come back.” Apparently, you can date that for the future, but only if you don’t change phones in between.

When I returned from the Olympics, I tried to cancel my Canadian coverage. The only option to me, apparently, was to get pro-rated for the remainder of February, then pay my standard plan cost for February, and then pay all of March at the same time, because you bill ahead one month. Now, I have a bachelors of science in engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, and the US Navy’s equivalent of a Professional Engineers degree in nuclear power, and I could not understand the Byzantine billing system you were forcing upon me. Why not just refund the difference and pay for March separately? After speaking with three representatives (one who hung up on me), they agreed to just charge me the rest of the month at the regular rate, and take care of the next month when the next bill came due.

Now it’s March. Just a month later, and I’m back in a Verizon store. Now, my current (second) Refurbished, 100 point checked, Guaranteed LG enV 2 won’t read my SD Card but once in every five attempts. When it does recognize the card, half the pictures are corrupted and appear as question marks. (And yes, all the pictures have been taken by an enV 2, and I haven’t used the card for anything else, nor have I ever plugged the phone into the computer.) My card works in your associate’s, Corey’s, phone every time, but his card won’t work in mine. Corey then reset my phone with a complete wipe, reactivated it, and it still would not read the card. So now he wants to offer me a THIRD Refurbished, 100 point check, Guaranteed LG enV 2. I don’t really believe that the third time is the charm, and besides, the first phone, the actual new one, wasn’t subjected to any unusual conditions to crack the LCD, which would mean he’s offering me a FOURTH phone. This is absurd. At this point, I think I’m entitled to a new device. Corey informed me that the LG enV 2 isn’t sold by Verizon any longer, only the enV 3. That’s out of the question, though, because it “cannot be done,” according to Corey. His manager, Floyd, was present when I told him that the correct statement is that it “will not” be done, and the only obstacle is the attitude of the company that is falsely representing their product as the best in the marketplace.

At this point, I could tell that Floyd was getting uncomfortable and Corey was downright quivering, so I left the store once I was promised yet another Refurbished, etc LG enV 2. However, when I went to make a call, the phone informed me that it could not be “authenticated.” It also would not send text messages.

Back to the store I go.

Corey was dumbfounded, so he called a technical service line. He was placed on hold, and we stared at each other for the next forty (40!) minutes. In actuality, he stared at his computer screen, and I glared at him. Meanwhile, I got to watch Luis (remember him, the guy who lied to me?) try to flirt with a customer to Corey’s right hand side while another customer to Corey’s left was told she had to give her old phone back to the warehouse since she had a new one after she had signed a new contract. She was quite put out by this; she had bought the phone on the open market without a contract. Why not just tell her that before she signed her new Blackberry contract?

Once Corey got through to a real technician, he was able to get the phone working in about 15 minutes. Chalk up two more ours in your store, during which your customer rating score did nothing but plummet. Poor Floyd, your store manager: he is reaping the results of your policies and his employee choices and training. At any point in this year long exchange, it was quite within Floyd’s power, or your associates’, Luis & Corey, to replace my broken device with a functioning phone; however, they chose not to. This choice is at the root of your problem.

Now that my experience with your company has been described, let’s turn to your commitment to your customers. From your website:

“You’ll enjoy exceptional customer service with our team of certified wireless experts,” and “Verizon Wireless is committed to delivering outstanding customer satisfaction. We offer quality products. . .and deliver industry-leading customer service. . .in-person.”

I have neither enjoyed my experience nor received service from experts. Instead, I’ve been lied to, given poor quality equipment, and been forced to wait while your associates call the real experts. Furthermore, my only satisfaction is knowing that one day in the next fifteen months, I can remove myself from the grasp of your contact and proceed to give my money to your competitor. Your “quality” products have done nothing but fail repeatedly, and that failure has been met with the direct abdication of responsibility by your employees. Yes, LG builds the device, but your name is on it; you MUST stand behind their quality. And finally, if what I have experienced with you is “industry-leading,” then I suppose I should get used to company employees literally breaking my device in front of me through his ignorance.

I cannot fathom how your company condones the continuance of employees who either are not trained in the customer service responsibilities, or are willing to blatantly lie about the company’s policy. Those are the only two possible reasons Luis would have told me I couldn’t give him fifty bucks for a replacement phone; there is no other option: lack of training, lack of morals. I cannot fathom how you claim to feature such fantastic customer service, when the only service I’ve received has been that filled with “cannots,” “will nots,” “does nots,” and “not my faults.” When you run a customer service business, your answer should always be, “Let me make things right for you.” They should not be, “The policy [or computer system] does not allow me to do that.” This gross avoidance of responsibility is at the heart of America’s current problems, and it is being led by its businessmen and women. This inability to solve problems, or willingness to push responsibility onto others, is only present due to the climate of the company, and that climate is reinforced by the middle, and tolerated by the upper management. Customer service is about treating the customer right; it is called “service” for a reason. It is not to blindly follow company policy, nor is to lie and cheat the customer to save the fifteen dollars that a new phone would cost you.

This, coupled with the pain my significant other has suffered at your behalf (she’s part of the Nebraska/Alltel takeover that has left her without a store into which she may take her service problems), I can guarantee that without significant effort or concern on your part, you’ve lost both our business this day. What is my business worth to you? What are you willing to do to retain it, to make up for the abominable treatment your employees, and therefore you, have given to me?

After all, this could have been saved by a simple NEW replacement phone. It would cost me fifty dollars, so at an eighty percent margin, that’s what, ten dollars your cost? So if your employee could have found someone in the entire Verizon organization to fork up ten dollars, you’d save me finding another provider from buying me out of my contract with you, and then paying them sixty dollars a month for the next ten years. That’s $7,200 that your company is losing today. Maybe your employee, or even your manager, Floyd, wants that on his next performance appraisal: “Lost $7,200 today because he couldn’t justify a ten dollar loss. Recommended for promotion.” You know, that wouldn’t fly in my customer service business, but I guess you’ve got different metrics, yes? Honestly, even if the phone is a $100 cost for you, it seems like you’d make it back in a couple months. Sure, you don’t want to do that for every customer, but I’m on my FOURTH Verizon phone in a year. That abominable.

This letter will be forwarded to the local branch manager, Floyd, your customer service department, and the Better Business Bureau. In addition, I promise to clip the best parts of this letter to the internet in a few key places.

On this St. Patrick’s Day, I shall close this letter with an Irish curse: “May the cat eat you, and the Devil eat the cat.”

Your customer,

Your Nemesis


One Response to “A letter to Verizon Wireless”

  1. […] to the fuel pressure regulator business:  Aeromotive, Inc is a company that really GETS IT, unlike SOME companies. I spoke left them a voicemail last night (they’re in Kansas or someplace out east), and I […]

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