Another Account Verification Center Nightmare

FIRST… let me start by saying that all three of the women who I spoke with on the phone at the Account Verification Center were as pleasant and professional as they could be, so kudos to them for dealing with me, while I am *completely* frustrated (although I am not including their names here).  However, I do not believe that at least two of the three were adequately trained or competent when it comes to understanding the official documentation required to verify one’s identity (I have no knowledge of the third woman’s abilities).

Second, let me say that I have not yet even signed up for an account with Verizon. But, given this experience, and reading the experiences of other customers regarding the Account Verification Center (AVC), I doubt that I will be confirming an order with them.  As frustrated as I have been with Comcast’s customer service, they are *nothing* when compared to by experience over the past 48 hours.

I am a current resident of Maryland (MD) and recently bought a new house also in MD.  Also, I am a federal employee who depends on the internet to be able to work from home.  So, I called approx. a week in advance of moving to set up new service in my new house (which was within 48 business hours of closing).    I called Verizon and spent 30 minutes discussing plan options and deciding on the service to sign up for.  Everything was going great, and the woman on the phone very polite and helpful.  

Towards the end of my call, to set up the appointment for installation, I provided my new address.  She put me on hold and when she came back said “There has been previous fraudulent activity, you will have to have your account verified by the Account Verification Center.  They will give you a call within the next 24-48 hours.”  Let me be clear… it is my understanding that *I* have done *nothing* to warrant this, but there has been a *previous* tenant at that house with some kind of activity that they consider “suspicious.”

I get a call the next afternoon, approx. 24 hours later, and I was on the phone for 22 minutes total.  She asked if she could talk to me and ask me questions that may potentially be “sensitive” so is it okay to continue.  She asked where I lived and worked now…*and* where I lived and worked in 2008!! Who even remembers?  As it turns out, I was living in a city in MD, and in 2008 I graduated from my PhD program and started a post-doc position also in MD. 

After that, she said that she would need 1) proof that I bought the new house (I said, exactly what document in the 100-some pages I signed at closing do you need a copy of?!?) 2) copy of a photo ID 3) proof that I changed my address (remember I HAVE NOT MOVED YET and am trying to set everything up BEFORE I move) and 4) (this is the best one) PROOF OF RESIDENCE IN 2008… SEVEN YEARS AGO.  I asked how am I supposed to prove where I lived in 2008?!?  She said with a bill or W-2 or something.  SO, not only are they asking for documents that I am NOT required to keep any more (even the IRS doesn’t require you to keep tax returns for that long).

Because I am very organized, and do not throw away docs often, I have them, but I am in the middle of packing…and while I have them filed, I have to go DIG through boxes to find a W-2 from 2008, and have to spend an evening to do so.  In addition, she wasn’t really sure about what part of my closing documents I needed to send her from the house purchase… and at first I swear she said that I actually had to provide a change of address card or new license with the new address.  I pushed by saying 1) she said that I only needed my license to prove who I am and NOT where I live and 2) my change of address is STILL IN PROCCESS… I JUST bought the place!!!... and to get that, I either have to file online and wait for it to be mailed or take at LEAST a half day off work go to the MD MVA! After I got irritated by that, she seemed to backtrack saying that I only needed to show the application for a change of address.  She did say I could just write on the back of it… I told her that the MD license is a laminated document you carry in your wallet that I can’t *write on*!! (She seemed to suggest that some states had a paper license that you can just write on the back of?!? Seriously?!?)    

The next morning, I get the deed to my house, 2008 tax forms (one scanned image of a 2008 W-2 and a 1099), signed mortgage letter, MVA change of address receipt (which doesn’t even show the two addresses), and USPS change address receipt (which does have both addresses).  Nevermind the fact that I think it’s sketchy that I have to send all of this official documentation to Verizon just for TV and internet, I email all of them.  I call to verify that they have received the email.  The woman on the phone, while pleasant, says that she has received the email, and will review the docs right away and put a note on my account that they have everything…she says I can call Verizon right away and set up service.  I had to go to work, and said I would call later in the morning. 

I call TWO HOURS later…and Verizon says they will start the credit check (why do they need to do a credit check for cable and internet installation?!?)… but when they go into my account, they don’t have the note from the AVC saying that they have all of my docs.  I call the AVC.  She says that they don’t have a copy of my ID, and they don’t have a W-2. I said I sent them, so she says she will check and call me back. 

She calls back. She says they have the 1099 but they don’t have the W-2 (remember above when I said they were ONE scanned image?!?).  I let her know the W-2 and the 1099 were one image and ALL docs were sent in the same email, so if you got one, you got them all.  She said she would check and call me back. 

She calls me back… she can only find the 1099, and has no picture ID.  I asked how many attachments were on the email?  She says 4…no wait, others are downloading… and then I say, Open the image of the 1099… see right above that? IT’S A W-2!!!! She says “oh I see that now.”  She says to wait while the docs finish downloading and she will then put a note on my account while I am on the phone. She claims to have done that and that I can now call Verizon and set up my account. However, at this point, I’m irritated, and don’t plan to call.

I am an organized person, I have a PhD, I am a federal employee, and I have had *nothing* suspicious in any account activity in any account I have ever had.  I needed to set up my internet *before* I moved because I depend on it to work from home.  And now, two days later, and providing a LOT of unnecessary documentation for something that didn’t even have to do with me, I STILL don’t have internet set to be installed (btw, I provided it mainly to show that my complaint is valid, and not that I am actually fraudulent or just making an unnecessary fuss).  In the middle of buying a house (where you have to jump through tons of hoops), and trying to move and set up a new life, this is a *ridiculous* amount of hoops just for phone and internet.  I get that I may need to prove who I am and maybe that I currently live somewhere else…but the rest is absurd.  In addition, I know that the previous owners only owned the house for approx. two years… so whomever did said suspicious activity in 2008 was at least TWO owners ago.  Why a change of address verification (what if I didn’t plan to live there, and was going to rent the place out with cable?) AND WHY a proof of residence from 2008?!? It’s almost just chance that I have that info around.  Hopefully, they will look at their policies and procedures and do some careful consideration regarding revamping their Standards of Procedure.  In addition, after reading all of the other nightmares associated with the Account Verification Center (people cut off because of one thing that “looks suspicious”, and then can’t get service turned back on until they provide the same level of documentation), I do NOT plan to call and become a Verizon customer.   And, sharing this story with everyone I know, I don’t think any of my friends or family will be jumping on the Verizon train either.