VERIZON FIXES THEN RETRACTS SOLUTION TO A PROBLEM THEY CAUSED
Posted Wed January 16, 2013 12:00 pm, by Sandra P.
We traveled to Nepal so Tony could do a Mount Everest Base Camp trek to raise money for cancer. Sandy accompanied Tony to Nepal but did not do the trek.
Tony needed phone service between Nepal and the U.S.A. for business. Sandy only needed phone service within Nepal in case either she or Tony had a problem while separated during the trek.
Prior to travel, Sandy phoned Verizon to ask about international options. The customer service representative explained two options:
(1) Verizon could send us an international phone and put us on an international plan. In this event, we would leave the personal phone at home.
(2) Verizon could unlock our own phones, and we could purchase SIM cards in Nepal and use the local phone service while we were there. Under this option, according to the rep, our phone would not work at all out of country until we put in the new SIM card.
We opted to use the international phone program for Tony, and to have Sandy’s phone unlocked, as she would only need to make calls within Nepal. The representative told Sandy that she did not need to do anything at all – the rep would unlock the phone from Verizon office, and that once we left the country, Sandy’s phone would not work until a Nepali SIM was installed. These were the full directions we received; not counting the user directions that arrived with the international phone Verizon shipped for Tony's use.
During a layover in China, when we were mostly sleeping, apparently our phone or apps on our phone were active, generating and receiving data. We were not aware of this. Our phones remained primarily in our bags during that time.
Once in Nepal, Sandy paid for a SIM card at a phone company office. The phone gave an error message about the SIM card and did not work. The Nepali customer service person told Sandy that the phone was not properly unlocked. Sandy did not have any use of her phone (text, cell, URL) the entire time she was in Nepal.
At some point while in Nepal she received a series of texts stating that data was being used, and to reply “YES” to be put on a plan that would cost $25 (approximately) for unlimited data usage. She replied “Yes” to each text, but since she could not send texts to the U.S.A., she was unclear about whether anyone at Verizon actually received these replies. She was unable to call Verizon (or Tony or anyone) since, despite the received texts, the phone was inoperable during that time.
When the couple returned from Nepal, they received a phone bill, Invoice #1147537423, with extra charges of $731.35 for data use, mostly in China. These charges included:
$ 1.99 - 1 minute of billable voice roaming charges
5.50 - 11 text global roaming messages sent
.50 - 1 text global roaming messages received
351.12 - 17,559 kilobytes of billable data roaming (Global Connect) charges from China
372.00 - 18,610 kilobytes of data roaming (Global Roam) charges from China
While we cannot account for the minute of billable voice, and we think the sent text messages were in response to the “Reply ‘YES’ to this Text Message” mentioned above, this complaint is primarily lodged because we did not knowingly use data services while on the China layover.
When we explained all of this to the Verizon billing department, they agreed to take the charges off our bill, and replace it with a $30 charge, which apparently would have covered the cost of some sort of international data plan, had we agreed to it prior to leaving.
The billing person was very specific in explaining the reasons why they agreed to remove the charges:
1. We were told that Sandy’s phone would not work out of country until we put the SIM card in. We were told that there was nothing more for us to do regarding Sandy’s phone – that it would be taken care of by the Verizon customer service person at the Verizon location. The billing rep said this was incorrect.
2. We were given no instructions about turning off the phone, turning off the data usage, etc. The billing rep said we should have been given instructions about phone settings to prevent any applications on our phone from automatically using data.
3. We were misinformed by the Verizon rep about how the phone unlock.
4. We were not given a $30 data use option, even though the customer service rep we spoke with knew Sandy had a smart phone.
In other words, the billing rep understood that we called for information to ensure that we would NOT have this problem, and were given incomplete information. The billing rep took responsibility upon Verizon for this failure to fully inform us about cost issues attending international travel.
We thought this would be the end of it. Then we received a call from the Verizon Credit Escalation Team, from a representative named “Parish,” who would not further identify himself, and also claimed that he had no supervisor, that “there is nobody I work for” (we took his words down), and that there was no one to whom to appeal his decision.
He claimed that “we” (he would not identify who “we” were) decided to allow us a $350 credit, but to charge us the remaining $350 because we “did not follow instructions.” The instructions he said we did not follow:
(a) We did not follow the customer service representative’s instructions.
(b) We did not put in a SIM card
(c) We did not get the SIM card until we reached Nepal, thereby making the data charges from the first lay-over legit.
This is such a stretch. First, we followed the customer service reps instructions to a “T.” Her instructions were clearly both wrong and inadequate. The phone was not “unlocked,” the SIM card didn’t work, we were not instructed to change phone settings, and we were not given an international data use plan option. And weirdly enough, despite Parish blaming us for not putting in a SIM card, the data charges in China are totally unrelated to SIM.
We called Verizon in good faith to find out how to make sure we had the use of our phones at rates that would not be excessive. We believe we have a right to rely on the information we received from the Verizon customer service representative in proceeding with our travel phone use. We understand that anyone can make a mistake, but in this case, it seems that the Verizon representative is the person who made the mistake, while we followed directions as they were given. The billing department representative shared this view, as did his supervisor. For the “credit escalation team” to decide to “split the charges” with us because we did not follow directions is ludicrous. For “Parish” to refuse to give us any appeals outlet or supervisor to talk to, and to insist that he is his own boss (is he the owner of Verizon?) is even more ludicrous.
Up to this point, we have been fairly satisfied with Verizon’s customer service, and so we hope that Parish is an anomaly within Verizon.
I called again today, and was told that Parish did have a supervisor named Vincent and was promised that Vincent was in a meeting, but would call me at 3pm Alabama time. That didn't happen. I really feel that that department in Verizon doesn't care about its customers - and perhaps is evaluated based on how much money the Complaint Escalation Team can ring out of customers like me, however unfairly. Tony is so upset about the way Parish treated me, that he wants us to file complaints everywhere, file a law suit, quit Verizon and go over to Sprint. We have three phone lines, and that would be a horrible hassle for me. But this was all so wrong, that I am not going to hand over a huge chunk of money and let it go.
We would like two things:
(1) For Verizon to act in good faith and revise our bill to reflect the removal of the China data charges.
(2) For Parish to be sent back to customer service logic and manners school.
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