Tag Archives: Consumer alerts

The disaster that is Verizon

I got an advertisement in the mail today from Verizon offering what appeared to be a pretty good deal on cable and internet access at a nice discount from what I’m currently paying.  So, I decided to call the number on the mailer to get some more details.

After the mandatory pre-recorded message, I spoke to a customer service representative who told me she was sorry but since I didn’t want the cable, internet and phone combination she couldn’t help me but some other part of Verizon could and she gave me their number.

I called that number and went through the phone quiz (‘press 1 for new service’, ‘press 1 if it is for your home’, etc.).  After indicating that I was a new customer seeking cable service I was forwarded to some dude who asked for my customer number.

Me:  “I don’t have a customer number.” (What’s the point of pressing the ‘new customer’ button if I have to answer this question?

Him:  “Oh, well this is technical support.  I can’t help you with a new service.”  (So, why did I press the ‘I want a new service button?’)

Me:  “So, how do I get cable?”

Him:  “I can forward you.”

So, no big deal right?  Just a minor inconvenience? I listened to the phone ring.

Woman:  “Yeah?”

I was a bit stunned.  I wasn’t expecting a response like that.

Me:  “Hello?”

Woman:  “Yeah?”

Me:  “Who is this?”

Woman:  “You called me!  Who is this?”

At this point, I hear a kid crying in the background and realize that Verizon has just forwarded me to a personal phone number.

Then she hangs up.

Ok…I’m starting to get annoyed.  I call back and get the tech support dude again.  He doesn’t realize he spoke to me 2 minutes prior so I have to stop him from transfering me to (I can only suppose) that woman’s house again.  He gives me another number but tells me I have to wait until tomorrow because that office is closed.

What?  So, if I want cable/phone/internet service I can call until midnight but if I want just cable and internet I can only call between 9 and 5?  Are you kidding me?

I call the original number to try to straighten this out.  It can’t be as bone-headed as this.

Well, it is.

I play rope-a-dope again (with me being the dope) and eventually have to call back again and ask for a supervisor.  This is how the call goes:

Supervisor:  “Uh…yeah.”  You gotta be F’ing kidding me.  The guy sounded like he was in some sort of drug induced stupor.

Me:  “Hello?”

Supervisor:  “Uh…mumbles…I’m <his name> the shift supervisor.”

Me:  “Yeah.  I just wanted to call and let you know I’ve been trying to sign up for Verizon service for the past 40 minutes and still haven’t been able to get a straight answer.”  Insert above story here.  “I gotta tell you, this is some of the worst customer service I’ve seen in awhile.  I mean it seems like I can’t give you guys my money.”

Supervisor:  “Uh…well….uh….”A brief silence ensues.

Me:  “Well, just figured I’d let you guys know you lost my business tonight.”

Supervisor:  “Uh….well….”Another silence ensues at while point I just hang up.

Yes, Verizon…It’s the network.  Apparently a broken network staffed by the brain dead.


Consumer Alert…Wachovia credit card scam

About a month ago my wife and I got a credit card offer in the mail.  It promised to transfer a balance from another card at 0% interest for a year and with no transaction fee.  Now, I get these offers all the time but I’ve never seen one without some sort of fee attached.  That was clearly a good deal.  Perhaps a bit too good we thought so we called Wachovia Credit Services and confirmed it.  It was that good of a deal.

Well, if Wachovia wanted to give me a free one year loan I wasn’t one to argue with them so we signed up for the card and gleefully transfered a balance from another card.

Fast forward one month…

I get my first bill and low and behold Wachovia hits me with a $75 finance charge.

I call customer service to find out what happened and hear the rep tell me that Wachovia has never offered a deal like that.  I asked him to review the recording of my conversation with the rep who opened the account for us (I figured that they might actually be able to use one of those calls they’re always telling me are monitored for training purposes) and found out that (surprise!) they don’t monitor all that many calls after all and I was guessing even if they did have a copy of my call it would be deleted shortly after I hung up the phone.  The call quickly devolved into a game of he said/she said where I couldn’t prove anything and so I resigned myself to the fact that I just got screwed.

Then I took a look at my bill again.   On the second page it said quite clearly:

Promotional Finance Charge Summary:  Total Finance Charge:  $0.00

Ah ha!  This was all some clerical error, I thought.  I’ll just call back, point out that note and Wachovia will be happy to refund my money with apologies for inconveniencing me.

Not so fast, buddy!

I called back and spoke to a customer service rep and explained the mix up.  Then, to my astonishment, she said that I still had to pay the fee because it wasn’t a finance charge but rather a ‘transaction fee’.

I guess I should say at this point that on my bill it says:  “Transaction Fee **Finance Charge**” When I read that it seems like that means that either transaction fees are a subset of finance charges or the terms are synonymous.  In either case they should be covered under that ‘Total Finance Charge’ category.

The rep didn’t see it that way, telling me that it wasn’t a finance charge but rather some sort of warning that I would pay a finance charge if I didn’t pay the transaction fee.

What???  That’s got to be the most idiotic thing I ever heard so we quickly blew by that one.  The rest of the conversation was like an Abbott and Costello routine.

Me:  It says the $75 is a finance charge and later that I should pay a finance charge.

Her:  It isn’t a finance charge.

Me:  Than why does it say it’s a finance charge on the bill.

Her:  The finance charge is a transaction fee.

Me:  Right!  Exactly.  It’s a finance charge so I shouldn’t have to pay it.

Her:  No, it’s not a finance charge.

Me:  Than why does it say ‘finance charge’ on the bill?

Her:  Because the finance charge is a transaction fee.

Who’s on first?

Getting nowhere, I asked for her supervisor. We went through the same routine at first.  She first tried to tell me that ‘finance charge’ wasn’t the right terminology on the bill and it was a transaction fee which (according to her) was a very different thing.

Me:  Ok, no problem.  Can you then send me a correct bill where the charge is not listed as a finance charge?

Her:  No.  That’s the way it gets listed

Me:  So it’s a finance charge and I shouldn’t have to pay it.

And round and round we went again…

Eventually she said:  “I can see how you got confused.  Our billing is very deceptive and we shouldn’t list it that way.”

What?  Did I hear that right?  Did a Wachovia supervisor just tell me that they knowingly deceive customers?  Ok, I felt like I was making progress.  Now that she admitted that Wachovia was knowingly deceptive and confusing (Although I dispute that part of it.  There’s nothing confusing about being told something is free.) the next step was for her to please this new customer and refund the ridiculous fee.


Her:  If we did that we’d have to refund everyone’s fee.

Me:  Why, do you tell all your customers that won’t get a fee and then charge them?

It ended right about there with nowhere to go.  Reason and logic were clearly not going to sway these people.  I’ve got to send this up the chain of command and see if I get some satisfaction.

Anyway, dear reader, learn from my mistake.  Stay away from Wachovia, they apparently can’t be trusted.