Like others who have left public messages here, I see no place to leave Verizon feedback about the customer experience, so I'm leaving it here.
I moved to a different state a month ago, and so had to cancel some services and change some addresses. The only company that refused to cancel services and stop taking money out of my checking account was Verizon.
I had had a landline phone and DSL internet through Verizon for nearly two decades. But what I thought would be a simple matter turned out to be anything but. I called them, and this is the only company I have ever talked to who decided that they could not verify my identity and so its solution was to continue taking money out of my checking account without my consent to do so. Theft. Fraud. Call it what you will. For a company to take money out of a banking account for a service that cannot be provided is very wrong.
Most of Verizon's support representatives, however, including a supervisor named James, do not see it that way. They assured me that this was standard security practice. They all said that their hands were tied. There was literally no one I could get this escalated to who could solve it!
When I called at first I was told that the only two ways to verify my identity were for me to call from that phone -- in a state where I no longer live in an apartment which I no longer have access to -- or for them to send me a PIN.
So weeks ago they said they would be sending these PINs to my email address. But no such PIN ever arrived. Reps tried to this I believe at least 4 or 5 times. The email account works fine. I even get my Verizon bill there. Verizon's PIN-sending system, however, does not work.
They also tried to send me a PIN via the US postal service, which is being forwarded here. In spite of other forwarded mail arriving here, that pin never arrived.
Tone-deaf representatives at Verizon kept ignoring what I was saying and telling me they would send PINs to my email and/or via postal mail. Even weeks after first pins were supposedly sent, not a single one has arrived in my email inbox. (It wouldn't matter if they did. Verizon's idiotic verification system requires the PIN to arrive in your email while you are talking to them, which leads to long awkward silences while you both are doing nothing but waiting for an email that will never arrive.)
I said, hey, send me an email from your own email address to this email account, I bet it will go through. They are not allowed to do that. The supervisor named James who was not helpful and all and didn't seem to care much about any of it said that he would be fired for sending me an email. I said it would at least prove that your PIN-sending system does not work! Verizon is entirely reliant upon this broken PIN system, and no one over there seems to much care that it's broken.
The supervisor said he was helpless to do anything to stop Verizon from billing me, which is crazy. I was finally told today that I could go into a Verizon store and they could verify my identity that way. Somehow no one I had talked to over the previous few weeks thought it worth mentioning that I could do that.
I have my doubts that that would even worked. But nevertheless, I got lucky today and found my rarely used Verizon login password. Remember, this was a landline phone that was set up nearly two decades ago, back when most people had those archaic devices. People didn't used to set up pins or passwords or log into accounts. They just paid their bills. My billing was autopay, so I didn't even get paper bills.
With that account number finally in hand -- there was apparently no way for Verizon to look it up without that coveted PIN -- a rep named Jose, who was somewhat less indifferent than the previous ones, was able to finally cancel my account. He also submitted a claim to have the last charges refunded.
If not for stumbling upon this old password I'm not sure what my options would have been. I would have told my bank that Verizon is not a good-faith vendor, and that I do not authorize them to continue to draw from my bank account -- what I regard as fraudulent charges or what you might simply call stealing from my bank account -- without my permission. At least two reps including the unhelpful supervisor James actually suggested to me that the best way to cancel this would be to dispute the charge with the bank and tell the bank Verizon is a bad-faith merchant.
But had I done this, and Verizon had kept charging me, it likely would have sent the bill to a debt collector, and that could have impacted my credit. It's ridiculous.
What amazed me the most is how little most Verizon employees seem to care about the company they work for. I was told by some to leave web feedback. And initially my response to that was, this is the company that YOU work for, why aren't YOU the one who cares about this?
I am never going to use Verizon for anything else after this, so why should I care whether they steal from their customers or try to improve the customer experience? Their support is broken, their systems are broken, and hardly anyone seems to care, not even a supervisor. Verizon itself doesn't even provide a clear way for a customer or former customer to leave feedback, so it appears they don't even WANT to know. I should share this? I don't care whether Verizon goes out of business tomorrow, so why should I go out of my way to help them figure out how not to infuriate future customers? They don't even even seem to have a real system in place for their own employees, or even their own supervisors, to provide feedback to Verizon about what to improve. I'm told the comments are entered into my account, and that the calls are recorded. Those almost never go anywhere. Customers are told that to make us feel empowered by companies like Verizon who clearly do not actually care what we think.
The main way to provide feedback seems to be this public forum. I doubt that many will see this, but if you do, PLEAST BE WARY OF VERIZON'S BUSINESS PRACTICES. What kind of a company is so unethical that it arrogantly assumes that it can keep drawing from your bank account without your permission?
Be especially careful of any automatic payments, because Verizon has a broken security verification system and it doesn't seem to give a da*n (censored, amusingly!) about that. It could try again right now to send me a PIN to the email it has on file for me, and it's almost certain that it would not go through, just as all the previous ones failed to go through. But employees there seem unconcerned. The general sense I get is, "It's not my fault." Or, "It's for security." You're stealing money out of my account, and this is for my own security? Thanks.
It's not mostly the fault of individuals. It's first of all the faulty verification system, and second of all, an apparent see-no-evil-hear-no-evil culture there in which Verizon does not want to hear from either employees or customers.
The cherry on top here is that the first time I called today the Verizon automated system responded with only silence, and the second time I called the connection was so bad we couldn't hear each other, probably not from my end since my T-Mobile phone has been working great here. That awful connection also happened a few weeks ago when I called, so the rep hung up on me.
Then when I was finally able to log in, luckily having found my password, when I tried to pull up my account information, many of the options responded with errors -- and what programmers call ugly, untrapped errors that include numbers in them. The entire experience inspires zero confidence in where Verizon is headed. When I started using them a couple of decades ago, their service was actually pretty good, a far cry from what it appears to be now.
I had up until this ordeal been interested in trying out other Verizon services. But after this I will never use Verizon again, and I will warn others in the strongest possible language to avoid Verizon at all costs. Sorry, but stealing from my bank account is a red line for me! It's absolutely outrageous that a company has no way to verify a longtime customer over the phone, and its solution to that "because of security" is to continue drawing funds from their account, without authority to do so, for a service in a state where they no longer live in an apartment that they no longer have access to.
Thought this would be a simple 5-minute process, and instead it turned into one of the biggest ordeals of the move! Thanks for nothing, Verizon. This is the last you'll be hearing from me.
Hello, dan146. Thank you so much for taking the time to share this feedback. We are deeply sorry to hear about the troubles you've encountered with verifying your account with us to ensure that your account was taken care of. We value your feedback as we are always looking for new ways to improve our customer service practices in all of our channels of support.
I appreciate Brett's response more than any other communication I have gotten from Verizon.
Unfortunately this saga was not yet over, so let me add an update.
What I thought three months ago was going to be a five-minute process of canceling a service for an address I no longer have access to wound up turning into an absurd three-month-long ordeal!
Last week I got a text message from Verizon telling me that I had an unpaid bill. "Hi, your closed Verizon account ending in 081-0001 has a balance due of $42.93. Pay at verizon.com/payonline".
I could hardly believe it! Then I got two pieces of mail from Verizon -- both of them, incredibly, still being forwarding from my old address, which Verizon was still sending mail to! What part of "I don't live there anymore" does this company have so much trouble understanding?
One of the pieces of mail was a standard bill which said, "Past due: $42.93".
The other was a threat, that included the following message in large bold text:
Important Credit Reporting Notice
We may report information about your account to credit bureaus. Late payments, missed payments, or other defaults on your account may negatively affect your credit report(s).
If not for the insanity I had already endured from Verizon over this, I would not have believed it.
Let me remind you that I was devoted customer for two decades, always paying my bill on time, paying Verizon a total of what I quickly estimate to be around $20,000, and then going through this arduous ordeal of simply trying to get them to stop billing me for a phone line that I no longer have access to. I had been told by a rep who put in the request that he expected me to be refunded for part of what I had unfairly paid for a phone I didn't have. Just standard customer service, not exactly a generous gift. More generous would have been making this process smooth. Companies that care understand that our own time is not worthless.
But now it turned out that not only did Verizon not refund me, not only was it setting out (again!) to nickel and dime me, not only was it again making me interact with it, but it also was about to punish me for having been a loyal Verizon customer, by reporting me to credit bureaus for being "delinquent" on payment for a phone I don't have access to that is hundreds of miles from where I live!
There should be a bureau for us to report you to. I was on the verge a few times of reporting you to the New York State Attorney General, which is much more receptive to these kinds of concerns than most. I appreciated that their office went after Spectrum for lying about its speeds, not that the settlement actually stopped Spectrum from continuing to do that. (Spectrum often advertises its cable internet as being apples-to-apples with fiber optic, for example Fios, even though Spectrum's speeds are max theoretical speeds, which I have never seen reached, whereas fiber optic are steady and stable speeds.)
But as for Verizon, sure I had some issues with it over two decades, but it was far from the worst up until the end. Now it's like, wow, are there mad scientists over there sitting in a room just thinking up ways to exasperate customers?
But what I went through here isn't even what concerns me the most. What concerns me the most is that not a single customer service representative I talked to on the phone at Verizon over this period thought that there was anything wrong with this system, and nearly all of them sought to blame me.
Your PIN system is erratic, but it should not be the only way to verify identity. Other companies know this, so why not Verizon? No one there could answer that, and yet they all defended this system which caused me so many headaches and could even have hurt my credit rating.
I think it says it all that some of the reps told me that the best solution might be to let Verizon charge me and then dispute the charges with my credit card, thus getting hit with bad credit and presumably being flagged by Verizon as delinquent, which I assume would preclude me from buying other Verizon services without paying the balance (or at least that's how it works with some other companies). That's a process in place that works? Wow.
I have paid for a number of services from T-Mobile as well for years, including phone and prepaid hotspot, not for as many years as I've been with Verizon but enough to get a feel for that company. The reps there may not always know what to do, but the corporate culture there seems to teach them to be empathetic about what the customer is going through. The strategy of arguing with a customer who has been severely inconvenienced that the process is actually great and that it's the customer's fault is simply a boneheaded and inconceivable approach to customer service. (Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride on "inconceivable": "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.")
So here I am two months after I thought that I had finally gotten this ludicrous thing taken care of. I talked to Verizon customer service on the phone again today. This time I was told that even having my account login was not going to help them verify my identity, and that using the account number to verify me the way they did before (when I had been told they had solved my problem) would be a security risk because "someone could just dig through my garbage and get my bill."
Wow, so nice to have Verizon looking out for my best interests. Other reps also claimed that I simply didn't understand what my own best interests were. Back in reality I have not gotten a paper bill in years, so I guess someone would be digging through a public landfill in order to get a Verizon bill, just so they could, what, prank me by adding a mobile line or canceling my landline? But meanwhile the bills that you send to my email don't even include the full account numbers, which is why even when I had access to a full emailed bill, that was not enough for Verizon to be able to verify who I am -- and for my "own good" they decided to just err on the side of continuing to bill me, in my own best interest of course.
The rep today told me that it's happened before that people have dug through customer's garbage cans in order to get their bills and then have called Verizon to modify their account services. Such pranks I guess are a major problem, but not billing people for a phone they don't have for charges they have not authorized.
This time, by the grace of the heavens, the pin-code authorization that was sent to my phone number did work. And the rep was able to refund what Verizon claimed I "owed" "past due". So I have my fingers crossed -- again -- that this farce is finally over. The result however is that I will never use Verizon again, and I have already warned many people about its customer service, and will continue to warn others.
I don't know whether either email or postal mail PIN verification would have worked today or not. A rep two months ago was finally able to get into my account with my account number, and we were able to add this other phone number which the PIN was sent to today. If the PIN process was improved, that's great, but it still should not be the only way to verify the identity of a customer whose bank account you are actively drawing out of without his permission.
The rep today blamed me for not understanding Verizon's great process, and said that it was my fault for "not updating my information" sooner. Even though Verizon had my address, a working email address, and until early December, my landline number, not to mention two decades worth of a customer history that they could have used to verify me. I had no way of knowing that the verification process would be this bad, and if I had known, then of course I would have done more.
Verizon of course could have done what other companies do and have security questions, or ask other personal information. This is not a bank account, and I'm not trying to launch a nuclear weapon here. Your security does not have to be a 10-foot-thick reinforced steel door. You should have a rigorous but reasonable process in place that works for the customer. Because of your flawed security, you were taking money out of my bank account without my permission. So that is not security that works in my own interest. Imagine a bank that sends wires out without the customer's permission. That would be considered an egregious violation of ethics.
But what bothered me the most again today was that the rep did not care about your process, and did not see any of this as an actual problem. He acknowledged, like other reps, that I was frustrated, but made me out to be unreasonable.
I have been very specific in my concerns. I have said that a) Verizon has a flawed identity-verification process in place that is too brittle and too reliant on a narrow number of imperfect approaches, and b) Verizon's processes are inferior to those of any other company I have ever dealt with that has tried to verify my identity.
But rather than acknowledge that I had legitimate comments, and seek to file these where someone might see them, the reps without fail defended Verizon's process, even after hearing my story.
After all of this, then, what stands out the most to me is a broken corporate culture that does not cater to customers. Even if, in some alternate universe, what I went through is really the way it should be, it makes no sense from a business perspective to blame me for it, or to further alienate me from Verizon. T-Mobile understands better how to connect with its customers. Even at its out-of-country call centers the reps are empathetic, put the customer first, and are trained appropriately in how to listen and how to treat us, not only for our own comfort but for the good of their business.
Who in their right mind is going to recommend a company that is focused on defending a process that has caused massive headaches for the customer, that focuses on winning arguments more so than on listening? (The rep today at the end actually told me that he was going to hang up now...in the way that someone might dismiss an ex in a phone call for being irrationally upset. But I certainly had no interest in any event in continuing to try to express my concerns to the brick walls over at Verizon customer service.)
The Verizon reps I dealt with were arrogant. One after the other would try to "explain" to me why your process is good, and why I am wrong. Today's call started out promising, but in the end wound up cementing my determination never to use Verizon again, and to warn anyone who will listen away from using them. The main reason is not your flawed verification process, which could be fixed, but rather that your customer service is simply not oriented toward the customer.
Had someone simply said, I get what you're saying, and we can do better, then I would have walked away frustrated but hopeful. At this point however I have little faith that Verizon cares about improving the customer experience, or has any kind of a broad process in place to make sure that it is continually getting better, as opposed to just rationalizing whatever is already in place. The "argue with and blame the customer" approach to customer service is an approach that has very little positive track record in the world of business, and I cannot fathom why this approach is used.
No one over there validated my concerns. The man I spoke to today was perhaps the most arrogant of all. A previous call was to a call center I believe (if I'm not mistaken) near Mumbai, but this one appeared to be based in the US. This man told me it was my fault, that "no amount of explaining" about how good your verification process is was going to satisfy me. His view, like that of others, is that this is simply the way it should be, and that there was nothing out of sorts here. So it's my fault, not Verizon's.
Other than the little message here from Brett, I got no indication that the company minds treating a two-decades-long customer who has paid you $20,000 in such a fashion, and no indication that they care that such a customer is almost certainly going to warn others not to use Verizon. What the reps do seem to care about is defending the setup they already have. The calls tended to end with it seeming as though the reps smugly felt they had won their arguments, and successfully made me look foolish, as though this somehow is in their job description.
More than once today the man condescendingly explained to me that before they use a PIN to verify me, the customer service rep can only see redacted customer information on his computer screen.
What does that have to do with anything? I was saying that there ought to be other ways to verify a customer's identify if you're billing him and he doesn't want you to. And he's explaining what happens before and after verification, as though I'm just too stupid to understand how any of this works.
He, like other reps, kept telling me that this setup was for my own good. Again, not caring what I actually have to say about it. Reps will start by saying appreciate my point of view, but then go on to tell me why I'm wrong, and Verizon is right. The implication is that I'm just being stubborn and unreasonable. What is the goal of this? Who trains these people?
This man, like previous reps, told me that there "has to be a process" in place, for security reasons, to verify identity. This is some kind of a straw-man argument that is meant to make me sound unreasonable. When did I say that I didn't want there to be a process in place? What I said was that literally every other company that I have dealt with in a similar situation has done a better job -- had a better process-- and that includes companies that I might not recommend for other reasons.
Every company has a process in place. Why would I call up and say that I don't think that Verizon should have any process in place for security?
You've heard of mansplaining, where women complain that men treat them like children and explain things that they already understand. This is what you might call repsplaining. I think that by now I understand Verizon's process better than most, after all that I have been through! As a customer, I was not looking to be assuaged by a rep who simply explains the process better, explains to me what I supposedly don't understand about why the process is actually so great. With the implication there that the problem is that I am confused as to how your verification works, a process that according to your reps is perfect and does not have room for any tweaks.
I am living proof that your system is a pain in the rear, and has holes that can cause unnecessary exasperation, resulting in longtime customers who will never pay you another dime (at least unless you are able to bill me again without my permission), resulting in longtime customers who would otherwise have recommended your services but now will be warning others about you.
I didn't have to share this. I told the reps that if they don't care about Verizon doing better, then why should I? But I still decided to share this feedback out of some sense of duty, or on the off-chance that I am able to warn customers away from Verizon, ironically on Verizon's own forum.
Let me just wrap up with this. I just moved! So I was looking for new home internet service, and so did thorough research. While most Verizon options are not yet available at this address, since I follow developments I make suggestions to other people.
What I went with was T-Mobile's home internet, which is locked in for life at $50 per month, was a breeze to install, and has worked like a charm. T-Mobile was wonderful to me both on the phone and in the store, and they were completely accurate about the speeds. So I was kind of amazed at how well the entire thing went. In the time I have used T-Mobile for other services they have never falsely billed me, and when there have been glitches they have apologized and quickly offered responsible refunds. It's no secret that providing a good service and treating customers well is the ticket to customer loyalty.
Indeed, I had kept my Verizon DSL for so long at my old address because while it was slow, it was steady, and because I liked Verizon better as a company than Spectrum. It turns out that it may have been wrong for me to come to that conclusion.
Until this experience, I would have recommended Verizon over Spectrum, either the Fios or the 5G. But after this atrocious experience -- really unprecedented I think, for a company to refuse to stop billing me -- now Verizon has fallen below Spectrum. Spectrum has its problems, its hold times, its shaky reliability, its erratic customer service, its false claims about its speeds and its services, not to mention its own habit of sneakily increasing bills or adding premium services. I know because I am that guy who helps other people set up their internet, set up their phones, set up their computers. Old buzzwords would have said that winning me over is a multiplier, or that it's guerilla marketing to make me happy. Or conversely, that you are sabotaging yourself if you treat me like garbage.
So this is not just about whether or not I will use Verizon again. I am literally the one who talks to these companies for other people because, except for this crazy episode with Verizon, usually I am good at getting things done! If somebody gets an unexpected bill or their service cuts out or they didn't get a box or phone or device they were supposed to get, I talk to these guys.
So yes, I do have ample room for comparison. Not only do other companies have to verify the identity of the person whose service it is, they have to verify that I am authorized to speak on their behalf. That happens within minutes. Verizon struggles to do that over weeks, and is totally fine with that.
The arrogant Verizon rep on the phone today asked me for examples of other companies that had successfully verified my identity. As if he really is unaware that other companies do this.
What is wrong with people over there? As a matter of routine I do not blame reps for bad processes that are in place. But even at Spectrum, the reps almost always apologize when a process is bad. I've even talked to former Spectrum employees who have apologized after the fact for having to provide such bad service while they were there! One told me she left because she was tired of hearing complaints!
In fact, I can't remember an example of such an egregiously bad customer service process that was also defended by nearly every rep I spoke to, including a supervisor.
Other than Brett below with his brief, casual reply, Verizon has made it amply clear to me that it is fine with the way it treated me, it is fine with the process as it is set up. Your reps spend much of their time trying to repsplain to me why security is necessary, as though my complaint had been, "Why do you have security?"
I should have gotten the name of the rep that I spoke to today, who was perhaps the most arrogant out of all of them, but I did not do that. But while I was talking, he was mostly paying attention to his computer. When I would finish talking there would be silence as though the line had gone dead, and then a few seconds later he would say, I'm listening but also reading or doing this or that as well.
Was he listening? People who deal with customers are supposed to learn that there is a difference between listening and waiting to talk.
Verizon has two serious issues that it doesn't seem to be concerned about solving any time soon, and that's why I will warn people in the strongest terms to avoid this company. The process, and the process for listening and improving the process.
Therefore, my new ranking of all major tech communications companies puts Verizon at the very bottom of the list, below even Spectrum. Fortunately, a lot of people have access to other fiber optic or 5G internet options, and nearly everyone has access to other mobile phone options. If they have access to internet, then of course they don't need a Verizon landline phone, either. So in the majority of cases where I tell people, stay the heck away from Verizon, there is a serious corporate culture problem over there, they will be able to find an alternate. Maybe not a great alternative, but one at least that steers clear of the icky mess of a setup over there at Verizon.
So congratulations, guys, because it takes a pretty determined anti-customer effort to wind up on a list below even Spectrum.
p.s. This forum let me write this and then gave me an error when I clicked "Post", rather than simply asking me at that point to sign in. Fortunately being familiar with such glitches elsewhere I copied it. Then it said I was over the 20,000-word limit Then it said, "You used a bad word, a**, in the body of your post. Please clean up the body before posting." The objectionable phrase was "pain in the a**", which is allowed on prime time television. Of course I have to censor myself even here! (It also censors such prime-time-friendly words as cr** and he**. Quite the prude.)
p.p.s. My account shows that I still owe; so at the very least the rep was being misleading that I was being refunded right away, or else the system is mysteriously slow to do such a basic update. I will believe the refund when I actually see it, and maybe not even then. Who knows whether Verizon will try to bill me again out of the blue two months from now? I never received the first refund that was described to me, and got a new bill instead.