Can You Hear Me Now? Get Bent.

An open letter to Verizon, discussing their service:

To Whom it May Concern:

I would like to make you aware of my recent experiences with
Verizon’s internet and phone service. Please note that this
letter is being sent to the Better Business Bureau, Verizon, the
Springfield Republican newspaper, and friends and family. In
addition, I am posting the text on my website.

June 18, 2003 – While still in Illinois, I called Verizon to set
up phone service for my new home in Massachusetts. At that time I
also put in an order for DSL service, which I was assured was
available. This was an important point to me, since I was going
to be telecommuting and would nee broadband access. I was told
that phone service would start on June 30th and that I would
receive DSL equipment a week later, on July 7.

June 30 – I move into the house in Massachusetts and my phone
service begins. At this point we call Verizon to try and get a
phone book; after navigating an unhelpful phone maze, we are told
by a recording that it will be two to three WEEKS until we can
get one, which is utterly absurd. Fortunately our realtor is able
to get one for us.

July 7 – Not yet having DSL service and suspecting something
is wrong, I call Verizon. I’m told there’s no record of me
ordering DSL. I’m also told that the line first needs to be
certified for DSL, which they can’t do because my phone is too
new and not yet in the database (after a week!). They tell me
that in three days they can test my line and then put in an order
for DSL, which will take a week. Note that I had already told my
boss that I would have broadband on July 7, as this was the date
Verizon representatives originally told me I would be provided
with DSL. Now I’m told that it will be July 17th at the soonest.
None of this seems to bother anyone at Verizon; they are
unconcerned that they lost my order — in fact, I’m told that
sometimes DSL orders placed at the same time as phone orders go
through a different queue and get lost — so apparently, losing
orders is something of standard operating procedure.

Later that day, through the temporary dial-up service (the only
helpful thing from Verizon I came away with) I realized I had
received an email about DSL service, but it listed a different
phone number from my real one. I called back to customer service
(enduring extremely long waits due to the post-July 4 weekend
and not enough operators) and told them that this may be part of
the problem. The representative basically shrugged and said,
“Huh. Weird.” And that was it. As far as they were concerned, the
order was still lost and nothing could be done except start from
scratch.

July 9 – Not having heard back from Verizon about the
availability of DSL for my line, I call to see if they have
tested my line yet, as I am in a hurry to get broadband and keep
my telecommuting job. At that point I’m told that I can’t get DSL
at my home. Once again, nobody at Verizon seems even the
slightest bit concerned over the fact that they had told me
otherwise.

I call other DSL providers in the area and am told that since
they all use Verizon’s lines, if Verizon can’t do DSL, nobody
can. I’m also told by one of the other DSL services that Verizon
has determined that my area isn’t economically viable for them,
so they have no plans of expanding the DSL coverage into it.
Furthermore, they won’t allow anyone else to do that, giving them
an effective monopoly on DSL service in this area — something
I’m sure the FTC would be interested in hearing about.

Finally I discover that one of Verizon’s competitors, feeling
that there *is* money to be made in providing broadband to people
in my area, has just introduced cable modem service here. I place
my order with them.

July 14 – I receive a package by UPS from Verizon with DSL
equipment in it–equipment that, according to Verizon, has
nothing to hook to.

July 16 – Awaiting the person who will install my cable modem, I
am surprised to find at my door a technician from Verizon, here
to install DSL. I tell him the whole story. He seems surprised to
hear that DSL isn’t available in my area and offers to test the
line. I tell him that isn’t necessary, since I’m having cable
modem access that day which (a) is faster and (b) isn’t from
Verizon, whom I have come to hate. He leaves without the
equipment, since he doesn’t handle that, leaving me with a box of
useless DSL equipment to figure out how to dispose of.

July 18 – In the first time anyone at Verizon has been helpful, a
person cheerfully cancels my dial-up service (which was a
temporary service until I allegedly got DSL), cancels the DSL
service, and tells me they’ll send a prepaid label so I can
return the DSL equipment. Supposedly they are also turning off
the DSL signal to our home, which I had been told I couldn’t get
in the first place.

July 21 – None of our phones have a dial tone, and I begin to
wonder if, instead of just the DSL signal, our whole phone line
has been disconnected. Since I now have the cable modem, I
attempt to put in a service request online via Verizon’s webpage.
After jumping through several hoops on the website, I’m told to
call the service line instead of submitting an online service
request. The page gives no reason why it’s not possible to place
a service request online. Since our phone was out and we both
work from home, my wife went to a (Verizon) pay phone. The phone
wouldn’t make calls to the service number listed for Verizon,
repeatedly giving an error number but no explanation of why the
call could not go through as dialed; she eventually had to call a
different number and ask to be transferred to the service
department. (Verizon touchtone menus do not appear to work when
called from public Verizon pay phones, and the wait for an
operator is frequently quite long.)

We were told that there was likely a short in our line and that
Verizon would have someone out to look at it by Wednesday morning
at the latest. It was currently Monday afternoon. We were without
our only phone for about 48 hours.

July 23 – A Verizon technician comes to the door in the morning
and has our phone line up and running again in ten minutes. I
asked what the problem was, but didn’t really understand the
answer – something about two different junction boxes and the
power to one of them being cut off or something. I don’t know if
this has to do with the DSL, but even if it didn’t, it sounded to
me like something oddball caused by someone at Verizon and not by
breaking equipment.

I have had Verizon “service” for less than a month and already I
am willing to do whatever it takes to remove them from my life.
My experience has been a series of ineptitude, deceptions, and
uncaring on Verizon’s part. It’s exactly what I’d expect from a
company that feels it needs to put forth no effort because it has
a monopoly in the area. I am so fed up with Verizon, in fact,
that I have considered replacing our phone service with cell
phones, even though I don’t like cell phones, just so I don’t
have to deal with Verizon. Out of the several people I have
talked to there with these various problems, I have encountered
very few who seemed legitimately concerned about helping me out,
and only a few who seemed to know at all what they were doing. To
this day I still don’t know if DSL service is truly available at
my home, because I never got the same answer twice.

I am glad I was able to get cable modem access through another
company and am looking into changing as much of our phone service
as possible. I will never recommend Verizon to anyone who has a
choice and will advise them to seek all other options first and
only use your company as a last resort. Whatever technological
lead you may have over the competition, you are sadly lacking in
customer service and competence.

Brought to you by Verizon!

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