Verizon Wireless is the Devil


(And I’m not even exaggerating.) 

This story is about the heartless and dishonest action taken by a company that claims to not only be “America’s largest and most reliable wireless network,” but also the one “more people trust.”

Clearly, America’s trust is ill-founded.  And I am about to show you why.

My partner Sara and I live in Haiti, where Sara directs the recovery operation for one of the world’s largest and most well-known international aid organizations.  I live in Port-au-Prince with her and blog about Haiti’s need for more relief, more aid, more care, more prayer.  Sara does the work.  I spread the word.

On the weekend of February 4th, Sara and I were in Miami for a long weekend away from the stress and strife, the grit and grime that is Port-au-Prince.  But before hitting the beach and soaking up the sun, we wanted to upgrade our phones and renew our Verizon Wireless contract.

Up until that Friday I had an unlimited international data plan for my mobile phone—something that was essential to my functioning in Haiti, where access to both electricity and wireless is limited.  I needed to upgrade my phone because I blog and the WordPress software I need was not available on the model of Blackberry I owned.  Sara also needed an equipment upgrade, since her BlackBerry had stopped working several months before.

Frustrated that our access to electricity in Haiti had not improved even a year after the earthquake, we stopped at a North Miami Verizon Wireless store on our way in from the airport.  We were eager; we were enthusiastic as we burst through the door and were greeted by a Verizon employee with, “Would you like to buy a Droid today?”

“No,” I sighed.  “Really, I’d prefer another Blackberry, perhaps the Storm.”

The Verizon representative was willing to show me the Blackberry but eager to point out how difficult it was to type from the touch screen.  He suggested I try. I did.  Indeed, it was difficult.

“Really,” he offered.  “The Droid 2 keyboard is more user-friendly and easier to operate.”

To make a long story short—

I tried the Droid.   I love the Droid.  Sara tried it.  She loved it.  We were sold.

We were in the store for close to two hours.  We explained our circumstances to our now friend from Jamaica, who understood our frustration, as he too had grown up on a Caribbean island.  We discussed my need to blog from my phone.  He even loaded the WordPress software for me and moved the icon to my home page for easy access.

He empathized.  He insisted the Droid was truly the answer to our data needs in Haiti.  He referred to the unlimited access to email and internet we would enjoy.  Things would be better.

Two hours later we left the North Miami Verizon Wireless store 2 Droids richer and $600 poorer—

Since, when we got back to Haiti the following Monday evening, we discovered we had no unlimited international data package. The phones were useless to us.  We spent $600 and, in doing so, lost the very feature that made the phones useful to us, in fact, essential to us.

We had been duped.

So the first thing Tuesday morning, I called Verizon to have the problem resolved.  I spoke with a “customer service” representative.  I spoke with 2 managers.

Finally, manager Lenora empathized with our situation and agreed to submit a claim to the “Inactive Pricing Committee. “

Now, 7 expensive phone calls to US “Customer Service” later (Verizon refuses to remove the roaming charges associated with those calls), I learned this morning that Verizon has denied our claim, because we bought Droids and the unlimited data package had only been available on Blackberries.

If only we would return our phones to the nearest Verizon store and trade them for Blackberries then the committee MIGHT be able to reconsider our claim.

Maybe the “customer service” representative offered we could mail our phones back to the US.

Yeah, right—mail 2 VERY expensive phones from a country that doesn’t have a national mail service.

Yeah, right—mail them safely from a country where we can’t even trust our own gardener not to steal our tools—not because he’s a dishonest thief, but because he is that desperate to feed his family and might be able to trade the hammer on the street for a handful of rice, a cup of beans.

We won’t be using these phones for economic gain.  Really, I‘d be a lot more comfortable blogging from the US, and Sara would be more relaxed if she weren’t trying to house the 1.3 million homeless Haitians living in Port-au-Prince.

We don’t make nearly enough money to pay the $70 per month for the 7 GB of data per phone that won’t come close to meeting our needs.

International aid work doesn’t pay well.  Blogging about Haiti pays nothing.

Bottom line—

Verizon refuses to restore the unlimited international data plan we had until February 4th, when a Verizon representative dishonestly persuaded us to buy Droids rather than the Blackberries our unlimited access to data depended on.

Verizon has essentially crippled us in our ability to function in Haiti.

Verizon may be the wireless company most Americans trust, but God forbid, the Haitian people place a similar trust in corporate America’s willingness to meet their needs.

Verizon insists there’s really nothing more they can do.

Verizon Wireless is the devil! 

(If you are willing, please pass along this story of corporate greed at the expense of the planet’s poor.  Please help me hold Verizon accountable.)

39 thoughts on “Verizon Wireless is the Devil

  1. I’m sorry, Kathy. That’s awful. It sounds like you got stuck with a sales rep who was more interested in his commission than anything else. You should try taking your complaints straight up the chain of command until you are heard.

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  2. That’s horrible, Kathy, but all too common! Our family has four cell phones that we pay for (Jim’s Blackberry is paid for by his work…he works for the phone company!). It took us months to get the bill correct (he gets a discount because he works for them), and to get all the phones on the same plan…it’s been a nightmare! Unfortunately, the solution is to be “the squeaky wheel”…call customer service, and just keep asking for supervisors until you get satisfaction…good luck!

    Hugs,
    Wendy

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    • Thanks, Wendy! I’m just so angry at this point I can hardly see straight. I need to cool down and chill out. I guess I just feel really helpless to act further because I can’t keep placing calls. When I try to call from Skype, I get disconnected, since our wireless is too slow. I feel trapped all around.

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  3. Ugh– this sounds terribly inconvenient and frustrating! All in the name of sales and profit, right? 😛

    Luckily, I’m so techno-incompetent that I have yet to get my own cell phone, let alone one that can access the internet or do anything besides accept incoming calls. (This is the only real time when being a Slow Learner works to my advantage.) I hope you and Sara are able to get this situation resolved ASAP and that the world can know that Verizon is The Devil. I’ll pass it on! 🙂

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    • Somehow I LOVE hearing that you don’t have a cell phone. Good for you. I so want to buck the system right now, it’s killing me. It seems like opting out is the only real solution. By the way, I especially enjoyed your post today and your asking readers to post links. That’s very kind of you. Thank you!

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  4. what a bunch of turds. I can only imagine your frustration and feelings of impotence with all this. I will be happy to spread the word….

    I hope you can find a resolution to this!
    let us know!
    jane
    p.s. I was under the impression, based on our family’s experience, that Spring was the devil… (one day before Christmas my hubby and I tag teamed on the phone with them for 8 hours…)

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    • Turds indeed! I’m becoming more and more disheartened by corporate America. I’m saddened by the political corruption I see in Haiti, but I see industries in the US that behave with an equal degree of deceit. Sounds like the cell phone companies are some of the worst.

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  5. Holy crap, Kathy! That’s just awful! 😦 I’m sorry to hear that Verizon has so badly mistreated you. You know what my next expensive phone call to the US would be? Corporate. I would call up and up until someone made it right. We’re actually thinking very seriously about switching to Verizon from AT&T because we get such crap service (both reception and customer) from AT&T in this area. And now that Verizon has gotten the iPhone, we’re seriously considering making the switch in May when our AT&T contracts expire. (Although, I don’t know if anyone knows this–apparently mobile service contracts don’t exactly “expire.” If you don’t actually cancel your own plan at the time the contract “expires,” then the company [at least most] will just go ahead and charge you month-to-month. But they won’t tell you this. I learned this when I switched to AT&T in order to join Robert’s mobile plan after we got married. It was pretty disgusting to me.) Anyway, we’re planning on switching over to Verizon (they used to be my service provider before the wedding)…and now I just don’t know. There’s nobody else in our area that has such comprehensive cell reception, but I seriously hate companies that deceive. It’s so wearying. As far as I can tell, they ALL are deceptive! 😦

    The people should revolt against evil cell phone corporations. (Is it horrible that my first thought when reading your blog title was, “Oh damn…she’s gonna tell us that they pledged a million dollars to Haiti’s relief fund and they’re not paying….” That’s the kind of thing I’ve come to expect and dread from corporations these days. I think that’s a bad sign.)

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    • Maybe more of us need to do what Dana has done and opt out all together. I don’t know what the answer is. I feel trapped and discouraged, feeling like I can’t even stay on the phone long enough to begin solving the problem.

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  6. What an under-handed, sneaky move! Ugh. I hate that for you and Sara. Trying to give your money to a company who in turn takes it, providing a totally bogus “service”. Do they have the store-bought, pay-as-you-go phones with international data? Those phones have no contracts, and to my knowledge, no giant corporations dedicated to making the act of using a phone WAY more complicated than it needs to be!

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    • Great question. Unfortunately pay as you go generally doesn’t work internationally, as international usage requires a “Smart Phone.” The problem is that if it’s “giant” it’s generally not international. Alas!

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  7. Sounds very frustrating, Kathy. I can totally relate with the frustration at cell phone companies. They are such rip off artists. It seems with every plan and every phone there is always something missing that you previously had and need. They always tell you it will be a better one for you…. and then it turns out it isn’t. Grrrr.
    Maybe you can find a newspaper that will publish your story to warn other unsuspecting customers.

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    • The newspaper idea is a great one, actually. On top of it all, I’m now locked out of my laptop. Only good thing is that I’m able to access the internet via this damn phone by letting it pick up the wireless signal from our router. Of course, I had to power up our generator to do that. If I could use the Verizon network I wouldn’t need the generator!

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      • OMG! That’s a great idea! Have you heard of Clark Howard? He’s an Atlanta-based consumer advocate and financial advisor who now has a nationally-syndicated radio show. He loves being informed of corporate rip-offs, and he usually does two things with the information 1. investigates and confronts the corporate bigwigs himself and 2. nationally blast scammers. His website is http://www.clarkhoward.com. If you can get his attention, he might actually be helpful.

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  8. That is terrible! Thanks for the warning about Verizon…we will definetly steer clear of them. I hope they come to their senses and figure out some way to make this all right for you. I totally understand your frustration and anger with what they have done. This is outrageous.

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  9. So, your sales rep holds no accountability in this whole thing? Clearly, money is the bottom line here. I’m so sorry this happened to you and I hope that someone at Verizon can pull their head out of their *ss and see that no one is going to get rich on the dishonest sale they made to you and that they should do the right thing and restore your unlimited data package.

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  10. This is awful and I really hope you get something resolved. Can you authorize someone to act on your behalf who is the US who can call and work on this situation? Or is there someone traveling back to the US that can take the phones with them and mail/return them once they’re back on US soil? Definitely keep calling and dealing with them though – the squeaky wheel does get the grease and unsatisfied consumers do have some sway if you can keep pushing things up high enough.

    For future reference though, VZW store employees are typically well versed ONLY on phones/plans for local users. Since Verizon Wireless is not known for international service (and in fact very few VZW phones even work internationally), most salespeople will never have dealt with international service contracts or know the intricacies and restrictions of them. I am a long time VZW customer and I would not trust any local sales store with the custom components of my contract – when it’s time to upgrade I ALWAYS call their customer service group and get shunted through the various departments until I get someone who is completely knowledgeable about the phones I am choosing, the plans I am looking for, and can provide me with all the details, in writing, of my new service contract. I’ve never had a problem, mostly because I can devote the time to verify all this well before I take ownership of the new phones & contracts – something which it sounds you unfortunately didn’t have time for given your travel circumstances.

    I’m truly sorry that this hasn’t been resolved for you guys, but I think saying Verizon is the Devil is a little extreme – you got caught up in some bad circumstances with an employee who was probably working on commission and mislead you due to a combination of his lack of experience with international plans and eagerness to make a sale, and now have to deal with the BS and bureaucracy that ALL wireless companies have. I wish you the best of luck getting this resolved, though!

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    • Thanks for your empathy. Wish I had known all of this before we went to Miami. Yes, clearly, to suggest that Verizon is the Devil is extreme, but I was using a metaphor–didn’t mean for it to be taken literally.

      Again, thanks for caring. Thanks for this information. I shall keep it in mind.

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  11. Oh, what an awful story. I would bypass all of these people and call corporate or write to corporate. Better yet, if you have a friend who is an attorney, have them write a letter. No threats, but sometimes companies respond to a “friendly” attorney letter. I remember one time literally screaming on the phone at someone from Sprint. And Dell “fixed” my laptop by sending it back to me cracked and with the screws that held the inside together taped to the outside. It’s a terrible, helpless feeling.

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  12. If you would like to reach the head of Verizon and tell him what an awesome company he has, here’s his corporate contact info.
    After reading your story I went on a search on the www and found this:
    Verizon CEO’s Contact Info:
    Ivan G. Seidenberg
    140 West St
    New York, NY 10007
    (212)-395-1000

    Alternatively, if you’re trying to turbo your customer service problem and you want to get executive customer service, this is the transom to toss your issue over.

    Maybe it helps and I hope it is not to late …. good luck!

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  13. Verizon ITSELF is the devil. Funny story.. I called in , and in order to get access to my acct, I had to provide a password, which I never set up. After 5 minutes of trying to explain that to the rep, she told me my pasword was “none”…she didn’t get that “none” ment I had no password, but she thought my password was “none”. OMG!!! They’ve lost my hardware, billing me $779.00 , finallt found it, (Oct, 2010) and I’m STILL having problems with them, in TV, Cell and computer. Sorry for your trouble 😦

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  14. Sorry, I left the post about the “none” password and didnt leave my info. Here you go. Btw…don’t give up. They are a huge corp. and they could fix the prob. if u bug them enough.

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