Fun with Verizon Customer Service

Or, Getting Rid of FiOS TV, Part 1.

Tv In Trash Clip ArtToday, we officially began our project to lower needless expenses, of which the TV subscription service is one of the largest.  As a technology profession, I need a fast and solid internet connection.  This is especially important as my children are back on the home school program, and get their daily lessons via streaming video.

But the television is a whole other ball of wax.  In the past few years, my television watching has diminished to less than 4 hours a week.  This is partly because I have too many other things which demand my time, and partly because there is nothing but junk on TV half the time.  It is a sad fact that we have access to well over 100x the number channels that I had as a child, yet, less of that content is worthy of viewing..

When we first obtained our FiOS service from Verizon, we went for the triple-play option of TV, Internet and VoIP phone, because that bundle was very inexpensive – for six (6) months.   We never did really use the phone service, because we already had been using Packet8, and were very happy with it.  Also, I don’t like my phone service tied to my ISP – if I have a complaint or need to change service for some reason, that bundling would be painful.

Now, however, I am starting a project to get whatever viewing I need directly from the Internet.  It doesn’t make any sense to pay for TV service, plus DVR, plus set-top boxes, plus all the attendant taxes, for less than double-digit hours of TV a week.  Instead, I will be obtaining a nice little computer with HDMI connectors, and installing Boxee on it for maximum value.

So, with our current contract at an end, we called up the good folks at Verizon to scale down our service.  As anticipated, they gave my wife all sorts of grief, and made it difficult to get to where we wanted to be.  And don’t even think about trying to navigate the website!!!  The word labyrinth does not begin to describe the maze that we went through trying to find a way to determine when our contract was up (we knew the date, but the website is designed to keep it a secret), or to change our service.   Even though we had no current contract, the website insisted that we had bundled services and would only let us change them if by “change” we meant “add more channels” or “increase your internet speed”.  Changes such as “remove TV service” were not understood, much less permitted by the website.

I went for the online chat, but after the pleasant representative tried without success to suggest things to me that had already failed, she offered:  “I think it will be best if you add the service you want to your order, THEN call up Customer Service and cancel the one you no longer want.”  Really?!?

Uh, sure.  “Um…  Let me get back to you,” I said.  Right.  If I can’t get rid of services right now from a bundle that the contract has expired, what will the odds be that I can get rid of them from an absolutely new contact?

So, the wife and I called this evening and got another nice, but clearly more capable person.  He did just about everything that we needed him to do – with one exception.    We asked for the 25/25 service, but the confirmation email says that it is the 25/15 service.  It’s not that huge of a deal (download is what I care most about), but it represents a larger problem.   Companies today are more interested in new customers than existing ones – almost all of the deals and bundles are structured this way. 

BTW, it took them less than an hour to turn off the TV service, although he said “up to 24 hours”.   I notice that the duration associated with the phrase “up to 24 hours” is very dependent on who is getting what.  When you need them to show up, they take the full 24 hours.  When they want to terminate things, they do it in the first 24 minutes.  Our new speed hasn’t kicked in as yet, although they did change our IP address already.

We’ll call them one more time in an attempt to straighten out the billing (which we will have to watch like a hawk for the next two months in order to make any sense of the credit/debit/refund confusion they like to pull whenever your order changes), and then get the rest of our plan in motion.

With a savings of ~$50/month over our previous bill, the extra PC is going to pay for itself in less than 6 months.

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