Thursday, September 24, 2015

When you're just a grain of sand on the beach

Editor's note: We believe in dealing with a company first before running to the Internet to complain.  One of our Drunk Rednecks sent this letter a month ago.  He still has received no response and is considering settling the contract dispute in court.  Most likely, he will let the contract run its course and never look back as he leaves Verizon for good.

Verizon Wireless
ATTN: Correspondence Team
PO Box 5029
Wallingford, CT 06492

Dear Verizon,

My two-year agreement for cell phone service hit its first speed bump eight months into the contract.  As I had done the previous seven months, I visited my Verizon store to pay my bill.  The sales rep pulled up my account and said, "You qualify for an extra gigabyte of data and it won't change your monthly bill."

The next month, I was hit with an extra fifty dollar charge.  Turns out my monthly base fee rose by ten dollars and a one-time fee of forty dollars was added for changing my plan.  After a lengthy discussion on the phone with one of your reps, best I can tell is the forty dollars was being charged using the same philosophy movie theaters use to charge their customers fifteen bucks for a soda and popcorn or the stadium charges baseball fans ten bucks for a small draft beer and a hotdog.  If one can steal from the customer and get away with it, why not?

I asked to be returned to my original plan, which your representative was happy to do - for another forty dollar charge.  I kept the updated plan rather than allow you to steal yet another forty dollars from me.

Three months later, my contractual relationship hit another speed bump that has ended in a roadblock.  I took my replacement phone to your store to have it turned on and to get a screen protector like the twenty dollar one I bought when I first got my phones.  You had no covers to fit my phone so the sales rep suggested I go to Wal-Mart or I could go online and get a tempered glass protector, which offers more protection than the plastic.

I bought two tempered glass protectors online from Amazon, one for each phone I had.  Since I have clumsy fingers, I took both phones to your store and asked the sales rep to put the covers on.  The first protector fit perfectly.  The second protector, however, left a perfectly framed border of about a quarter inch around the screen.

Figuring there was a defect in the tempered glass, I had Amazon send me another protector at no charge.  It failed to adhere to the phone and left the same quarter inch frame around the screen.  I ordered a third protector from a different manufacturer.  Since it was thinner than the ones I tried using, I figured it would fit the screen perfectly.  It did not.  Instead, it, too, left the perfect quarter inch frame around the screen.

After three screen protectors, all fitting exactly the same, and thirty bucks later, I figured the phone was defective since the screen protector fit my other phone perfectly.  The screen must have just enough curvature that the tempered glass protectors wouldn't lay flat.  My concern, of course, was that moisture and dust would accumulate under that quarter inch gap and damage the screen.

Since I now had no screen protector and your store had none in stock, your sales rep called your customer service to get help.  She got nowhere with your rep so handed the phone to me.

The rep was more concerned with whether I received a refund from Amazon for the tempered glass than what my problem with the phone was.  I explained to your rep that I went through three different tempered glass products and all three fit my phone exactly the same - with a quarter inch error around the entire screen.

She put me on hold while she "talked with her supervisor."  Hate to tell you this, but we've been a customer service orientated economy for the last fifty years, which means most of us customers know what that ploy is - put the customer on hold while figuring out how to pawn him off on someone else.  Since she put me on hold twice to "talk with her supervisor" and I never talked to that supervisor, she must've scrambled hard through the directory to figure out who she could pawn me off to.

I ended up with "tech support".  Sounded official enough, but, judging by the conversation, the rep was about as much tech support as I am a happy, satisfied customer.  Let's paraphrase the important part of our conversation.

"So you're saying there's a defect in the phone?"

"Yes.  I went through three protectors and all three left a quarter inch perfect frame around the screen.  That's telling me the screen has a curvature to it."

"Yes, all of our screens have a curvature."

"Fine, but the protector fit perfectly on my one phone, but none of the three fit this phone and all three have this perfect quarter inch frame where it doesn't adhere."

"Can you see that curvature?"
Dissatisfied customers shut out by Verizon?
Probably not.  Judging by the small number,
they are probably the only satisfied customers.
PHOTO CREDIT: Gigaom Research


"Then how do you know it's there?"
"Because none of the protectors, even the thinner one, can bend to fit the screen."

"But if you can't see it, how can you say it's there?"

"Buy a table that you think looks perfectly flat.  Lay a Plexiglas cover on top of it.  That slight gap at the end of the table tells you the surface of the table isn't perfectly flat despite the fact you couldn't see the slight curvature at the ends when you bought the table."

"Well, that sounds more like an issue with Samsung than us.  You need to contact Samsung."

"No, you sold me the defective equipment."

"What you are claiming is not under warranty."

"So you are saying you don't stand behind the equipment you sell?"

"We only sell the service the equipment carries.  You need to talk to Samsung if the phone doesn't perform as you expect."

Really?  You simply provide a service, that is the satellite connection, and you don't care about the quality of the equipment you sell to carry that service?  That business philosophy might explain the crappy service I get despite your colorful map showing full coverage everywhere on the East Coast. 

I asked him, since the store didn't have the high grade plastic screen protectors in stock, if he could send one to the store at no charge and I would keep the defective phone. 

"Didn't you get Amazon to refund your purchases?"

"Why should I have Amazon pay for sending me perfectly made products?  They didn't sell me the defective phone."

"We haven't determined the phone is defective.  Amazon could've sent you defective protectors."

"Then why did the protector fit my first phone perfectly if it's the protectors that are defective?"

"I'm sorry.  There's nothing in our warranties that cover the problem you describe.  I can send you a protector, but not for free."

I already knew that the high quality plastic protector you sell for twenty dollars is available on Amazon for less than ten bucks so I turned down his offer. 

Let's summarize how much Verizon has stolen from me in the first twelve months of my two-year contract:

  • $40 for an upgrade that was supposed to cost me nothing.
  • $40 for four months of upgraded service I didn't need, but only took since changing my plan back would've cost me another forty bucks.
  • $120 for the remaining twelve months of the upgraded service I wouldn't have taken if I knew it was going to cost me an extra ten bucks a month.
  • $30 for three screen protectors from Amazon that didn't fit because the phone you sold me is defective.
  • $10 for a pack of two high quality plastic screen protectors from Amazon to replace the one you originally sold me for twenty bucks.
  • $26 for a cheap plastic phone case for my replacement phone because your store didn't have the good case in stock.
  • $10 for the good case from Amazon.

In the first twelve months of my contract, I have spent an extra $276 dollars.  Do you still wonder why I am upset over your two reps quibbling over what would've cost Verizon all of a dollar, if that much, to get my defective phone a quality screen protector on it?

I'm from the old school where companies stood behind the products they sold and didn't try to steal from their customers.  Movie theaters and ball games were an exception with their outrageous prices for concessions, but that's why I don't go to movies or ball games.

All contracts have implied expectations as not every situation that may arise during the life of a contract can be set in print.  Your refusal to stand behind the products you sell, your offering of free services that have hidden and unexplainable charges, and your practice of grossly overcharging for your products as if I am at a concession stand in a movie theater or ball game are all violations of those implied expectations.  For this reason, I am asking you to terminate my contract with no penalties and no further redress of grievances either from you (Verizon), or myself as the customer. 

If you expect me to continue the final year with the contract, I will have no choice but to seek legal options for redress of my grievances.

Thank you,

Posted by Five Drunk Rednecks

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