Monday, July 16, 2007

Oh, Verizon...

Have you ever tried to get a service disconnected? Of course you have. Here’s a funny story to which we can all relate.

Recently, I contacted Verizon to disconnect a landline I was barely using a few days in advance of a move. I dutifully called the toll free number handily printed on the first page on my monthly bill. Naturally, I got the usual succession of ring-transfer-ring-recorded message which asked me, in order to expedite my call, to enter my telephone number, area code first, which I did, was told (in a computer-generated voice) “one moment please” and was then sent on a second round of ring- transfer-on hold music when finally, about seven minutes into the call, a live person picked up.

“Thank you for calling Verizon. Can you please provide your phone number with the area code first?”

“Ok,” I thought to myself. “I’ll be pleasant, even though I already entered that information in order to expedite the call.”

“Three-one-oh, five-five-five, one-two-three-four”

“And can you please verify your address,” asked the customer service rep on the other end of the phone.

“Sure,” I continued, “it’s...” and proceeded to give my address.

“How may I help you today?” inquired the courteous person from Verizon.

“I’d like to disconnect my service,” I offered.

“I’m sorry sir,” the rep interjected. “I’ll have to transfer you to disconnection. One moment please...”

And so began another cycle of ring-transfer-ring...

After another three or four minutes, another rep picked up the call.

“Thank you for calling Verizon. May I have your phone number with the area code first, please...”

“Sure,” I began, “It’s five-five-five...” etc.

“And for security purposes, can I ask you to please verify your address?” the rep requested, which I, again, did.

“I’m sorry sir, but your account is with a different division of Verizon, called Verizon Avenue. I can transfer you if you like,” the rep said, apologetically.

“Yes, please transfer me,” I replied, now a little agitated.

And so began another cycle of ring-transfer-ring...

And after yet another three or four minutes, another rep answered the call:

“Thank you for calling Verizon. May I have your phone number with the area code first, please...”

“Sure,” I began, “It’s five-five-five...,” etc.

“And for security purposes, can I ask you to please verify your address?” the rep requested, which I, again, did.

“I’m sorry sir, but I’ll need to transfer you to a different department. One moment please...”

And so began yet another cycle of ring-transfer-ring...

And after yet another five minutes or so, another rep answered the call:

“Thank you for calling Verizon. May I have your phone number with the area code first, please...”

“Sure,” I stammered, sputtering spittle as I spoke. “It’s five-five-five...,” etc., now seriously agitated.

“And for security purposes can I ask you to please verify your address?” the rep requested, which I, again, did.

“And how may I help you today Mr. Berg?”

“I’d like to disconnect my service...” I offered, again.

The rep continued, “May I ask why?”

“I’m moving. I’ll no longer need the service,” I replied.

“Well, we’re very sorry you’re choosing to leave us. May I ask where you’re moving to?” The rep inquired.

“I really don’t see the point – “

“Well, sir, we like to keep track of our customers. You have no obligation to provide that information, though we may need to send a final bill,” the rep replied.

“I’ve left a forwarding address. My mail will get to me,” I offered, irritated but remaining composed.

And after roughly ten more minutes of questions and responses and mother’s maiden names and being placed on hold while something or other got checked, I was given a confirmation number, an order was placed to disconnect my landline. Finally.

So, wow. What a lesson in what not to do to your customers, even when they’re about to be ex-customers. To disconnect one residential landline, four representatives of Verizon were involved through three separate transfers (four if you include the initial queuing to get the first rep on the phone) over approximately a thirty minute period. Yes, I realize the human factor in trying to keep me as customer, in trying to find out to where I was moving, but the bad press and bad will generated must supersede any potential benefit, no?

Now, suppose, just suppose, I could have logged onto their website, entered information to verify my identity (perhaps like my bank or brokerage or credit card companies do, which seems to be secure enough for them) and requested that my service be disconnected.

Imagine a world like that.

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