After six years, I decided it was time for a new smartphone. The one I have still works (thankfully, as you will discover by the end of this), but it's well past time for an upgrade.
I wanted to look at the options and also get an in-person checkup on my account options, so I scheduled an appointment for the nearest Verizon store. When I got there, they didn't seem to understand why I was there, country music was playing and making it hard to hear the "salespeople," and as I was seated I was asked "Sir, what's wrong with your phone?" It really seems like all they do at 1020 Cozzens Lane, North Brunswick NJ is fix people's devices and accounts. They have a wall of current models, but the sales rep just thumbed through her pad rattling off prices. I let her into my account, but she had no inquiries as to what features I needed most, no insights on what I might do best with. All I wanted was a phone with good battery life, not too bulky or heavy, in the $300-$400 range. She told me that my best bet was to go online, then sauntered back to the employees area.
So I went back home and got back online. I chatted a bit with one of the online sales reps, about fifteen or 20 minutes of very halting text conversation (I'm assuming he was serving several other customers at once, as he only sent me about three or four short messages in that time). He recommended things that the account bot had already put at the top of my suggestions tray--so not much help from the human element online either. At last, I decided that my best bet was to stick with 4G LTE for the time being (it'll be around for awhile, and I don't do all that much on my phone) and chose a Motorola Moto-G Stylus. Never used the plastic pen thing, and wasn't keen on having a phone that spent its valuable internal space to store such a thing, but the Moto-G Power model with a larger battery was backordered and had poorer reviews.
I opted to pay the whole cost up-front, then selected a couple of chargers and a simple protector case. Just before I hit "Place Order" I noticed that the "Mailing Address" was still set to an old apartment I had in East Lansing, MI. (Which is very odd, seeing as my VZW bills have for several years been coming to my New Jersey address, and bear that address on the form paper itself.) I quickly fixed this, then hit "Place Order." I never got a credit card prompt or anything, it just added straight to my account bill. The next screen popped up, informing me that the parcel would be assembled and shipped to Michigan. I frantically looked for a way to undo this, to cancel the order, to change anything. I corrected the "Shipping" and "Billing" addresses on my account to point towards New Jersey like my phone bills, all while waiting on someone in the website chat to help me.
Three times I went through the system, and three different people referred me to "Customer Service" (they could not change the address). Apparently, 7:45PM Eastern Time is past the point at which all those people go home for the day, and despite my desperate attempts to get some sort of Customer Service online chat person I could not make any contact. The intricacies of the online chat system make this very frustrating. "Please click this link, then close this window to start the new chat, as we cannot have two chats open at once," it says, which is all the more frustrating because you have to then take a survey in order to close the window, and even after that is done it's not obvious whether the chat is truly ended. I was slamming my desk nearly in tears.
I thought of calling first thing tomorrow morning. Alas, Verizon shipped the package an hour ago, a 24/7 shipping cycle with staff available 8AM-7PM if there is a problem (and even then, I don't know if they would have actually been able to step in and correct the mistake after I hit "Place Order"). "The carrier!" my apartment's concierge suggested. "They can intercept the package for you." That was an idea--I estimated I might pay $40 to have the thing rerouted, but it was a far cry better than gambling on whoever is at my old apartment to be conscientious. Again, foiled: Verizon forbids FedEx from rerouting such deliveries.
So it is, that despite hours of trying to correct an error that was very easy to make (perhaps hard not to make), all I can do is watch and pray that there is a leasing agent in Michigan who will be pro enough to tell the FedEx deliveryman to please return the package to sender. What will happen then, I do not know. I put a lot of time in today trying to deal with humans in the selection of a pricey device that is supposed to integrate into my life like I am some sort of cyborg. I just wanted a basic model, but to talk to a person and then do a little account checkup. Six years ago, when I got the phone I currently have, a guy at the Verizon store in Michigan was very kind and helped me ferret out features in my account that I was no longer using, cutting my bill down to an appropriate size. It was why I tried to go to the store in New Jersey today, but unfortunately his excellence in service was a high point in the many years I have been with the company. The whole system feels like a trap, full of things designed to fall, and break, or stick to you without getting noticed, all so that VZW can sell more product and leave the customers to blame only themselves.
To be circumspect, I just had a 75-minute conversation with a Verizon Customer Care representative, who was able to get the package re-routed at no extra charge. I will get my phone, perhaps a day later than it would have arrived otherwise, so I am quite happy with this response. On the matter of me going to the store in person and then being told to take my shopping online, his sincere response was "wow."
Overall, I'd say this customer care rep has done a lot to restore my confidence in VZW. Kudos. But, for Pete's sake, there should be mechanisms on the website to quickly correct an error like this with the address, or with order quantities (what if I had been shopping and accidentally wound up with two phones in my cart?) before the package is on a truck and the customer has spent three harrowing, helpless hours as the process unfolds.
6 years ago, there wasn't a pandemic. 6 years ago stores weren't cesspools full of sales drones who offer no help. 6 years ago a store rep wouldn't dump responsibilities on online or customer service.
The change to my address carried out by a 75-minute phone call to Customer Service seems not to have been successful in re-routing the package after all. I will have to call Customer Service again tomorrow, as well as the leasing office at the apartment complex in Michigan, to see what I can do next.
Great job, Verizon. You've set up a system that makes people miserable, and even offers your customers and employees false hope.
We are terribly sorry to hear you had this experience, dscerutti! Our intention is to help and make your upgrade experience easy and pleasant, and we are truly heartbroken to hear this was not the case. However, we are happy to hear that our specialist was able to help and get this matter resolved for you! You can rest assured we hear your feedback and it will be forwarded to the appropriate department. We sincerely hope to change your experience for the future, this way it can be quick an easy for you!
We are including a link that will help you complete the activation of your new phone once you receive it, so you don't have to be on hold again waiting for someone to activate your phone for you, and you can do it from the comfort of your home and on YOUR time! https://www.verizon.com/support/knowledge-base-209087/
As I said earlier, the very long conversation with a customer service representative on Wednesday, June 23 did not in fact resolve the problem--the package was still on its way to the wrong address in Michigan through yesterday. I called again this morning, just before the package was to be delivered, and a second customer service representative, Tina, provided me professional service and kept me on hold while calling FedEx to intercept the package and order the company not to deliver it. I thought that perhaps this had finally resolved the issue, as she assured me that it did, but I checked again and the package was marked "DELIVERED" about an hour after our call finished.
I do not know what to do now--someone at the address in Michigan, who is not me, has signed for the package and now has my new phone. What that person can do with the new phone, I can only guess. But at this point I need for this order to be cancelled, reimbursed to my account, the new phone to be locked out and never activatable, and all the dust to settle before I can attempt this process once more to connect a new phone that actually gets to me.