Verizon – A Company that does NOT Believe in Customer Service

Category: Social Media Social Good Series


I know I’m old when I really get nostalgic about so many things. Top of the list is good customer service. Yes, I remember when uniformed gas station attendants cheerfully came out and offered to fill your tank, check your oil and tire pressure, AND clean your windshield. Yes, I remember going into a shoe store where a man in a suit would come out and offer to help. AND, he actually was a professional who knew all about EVERY shoe in the store and took pride in being a GREAT shoe salesman.

The list goes on and on. Today it’s slightly different.

Customer Service Stinks comic

Now, I think there is NO customer service. Gas stations are all self-serve and, if you can even find papers towels and squeegees, you have to clean your windshield yourself. Forget getting air for your tires. Shoe salesmen (or women) today? Heck, you can’t find ANY sales-person in most department stores.

Waxing nostalgic, I also remember being able to pick up my rotary telephone and speak directly to a customer service representative at ANY company I wanted to contact. I remember being courteously spoken to with a “Mister” in front of my name. Boy, am I old.

We all have OUR litany of complaints about the lack of customer service today. I want to highlight one company to get my medal of distinction for incredibly LOUSY service – Version Wireless.

Customer Service comic

My final issues with Verizon began, ironically, during the recent Winter Olympics. I received a bill that was impossible to understand and way over what it should have been. I tried repeatedly to get a customer service rep on the phone. I pressed every prompt and then pressed another and another only to get a recording that there was a wait-time.

During this wait-time, I watched the myriad of Verizon commercials splashed on the tube during the Winter Olympics. I wondered how much just ONE of those commercials cost while they were clearly short-handed with people to actually help customers.

Eventually, I got a “live” person who directed me to another “live” person in another department who directed me to another department who put me on hold and then I was disconnected. This occurred several times. You must understand that Verizon is a very busy company and my time is of no interest to them. I can wait, hold, be disconnected, and there is NO consequence.


Finally, I got a representative who said they would help explain my bill. She was polite and put me on hold several times. And, I wasn’t even disconnected during those “holds” though I was tortured with all those Verizon commercials making false promises. She did return. She said she couldn’t figure out the bill and was as confused as I was.

She asked if she could do more research and that she’d call me back later that day. I gave her my number. I never heard from her or ANYONE at Verizon again.

I tried a couple more times again. I gave up. I went to another provider, cancelled my Verizon service, and waited for my final bill.

None arrived.


Months later, I received a “wake-up” call at 6:15 a.m. from a disembodied robotic voice claiming I was past-due on my Verizon bill and threatening “collection” if I didn’t call a certain number and punch in a certain code.

Normally, I will fight these things but I just didn’t have the time or energy so I called the number. After pressing the prompts AND that number, I was given NO choice to speak to a rep but given a choice to pay the bill via automatic billing. I tried to do that. Several times. Every time I pressed the prompt to pay, I was put on nether-land hold and eventually disconnected.

I then tried to reach Verizon customer service. You know what happened. I got one department saying I needed to speak to another department and the merry-go-round went round and round.

Ultimately, I paid OFF the bill in full. No one had authorization to discuss a “settlement” in light of my horrid experiences and no one apparently is given ANY authority to talk to a customer and try and solve a problem. They all work from a script. They are all polite and sound not much different from that robotic voice that woke me up that morning.

It’s sad. I’m DONE with Verizon. I suggest that you don’t even start.

Next time, we’ll tell you about Oceania Cruises – a peach of a company that believes in the motto “Penny Wise, Pound FOOLISH!”

bad-customer-service image

  • Frank Strong

    What an awful story. I hope someone from Verizon responds here. That’s the automation part kicking in — it’s all rule driven — and those rules can’t possibly consider the nuances of case-by-case. But it sure keeps costs low!

    • Bruce Sallan

      @Frank_Strong:disqus – I suspect @Verizon will ignore the publicity I’m generating much as they ignored me UNLESS it gets big enough for them to “care!”

  • David Weber

    I completely agree with Bruce’s observations. Like Bruce, I am old enough to remember high quality as a baseline for “normal” customer service. Of course, I am MUCH older than Bruce, but nonetheless, we are both privileged, in retrospect, to know how secure one feels when one knows that problems will be solved expeditiously and even respectfully. I can’t vouch personally for Verizon’s apparent contempt for the customer, because I have never been a V. customer. My mobile phone account is with T-Mobile. When compared to Verizon’s, its customer service seems relatively good.

    Verizon has located a very large customer service center in my city (Wilmington, NC). It happens that I have toured the V. facility … and the operations I observed were crazy cool! Too bad all that wonderful technology and the sophisticated hardware and software of the communications systems, both interpersonal and digital, ultimately lead nowhere but the voids that Bruce describes.

    Notable customer service today exists only in isolation. Nordstrom’s shop assistants are very friendly, knowledgeable and helpful without being (too) pushy. I have had good experiences in Apple retail stores in the with the reps on the floor as well as the “geniuses” at the Genius Bar…better service from the former than the latter, but not “bad” service at the Bar. I have actually had respectable customer service on line and by telephone from Apple … the worst part, though, is the LABYRINTHINE path you must tread to find the telephone number you may use. Apple’s instant-chat function for customer service is not bad, however, as long as the question or concern is relatively narrow in scope and therefore simple to explain to them, and to in turn be diagnosed, fixed and explained to you.

    Service that customers would consider bad has been around for decades and decades. The problem now is that something like service cannot become infinitely bad…there is a natural minimum level of service, which is either NO service whatsoever, or NO service PLUS a four-letter expletive directed at any customer who requests it. Consequently, what makes today’s bad service worse than past eras’ is that each era drifts closer to the natural minimum I’ve just described.

    Finally … here is a shout-out to Everett J. Pfund. Now long deceased, Everett owned the “Flying ‘A'” gas station located at roughly Beverly Dr. and Pico Blvd. in L.A. (that site is no longer a gas station, and the “Flying ‘A'” brand is long gone as well). My parents always filled up at Everett’s…they were regular customers and I myself became one in 1968 when I popped my first driver license into my wallet. Everett was as craggy as the mountains of New Hampshire, and despite being taciturn, he was warm and polite in his conversations, however brief, with his customers. He must have been in his early sixties and edging into retirement when I began driving because I didn’t see him around as much as I had when I was younger. Even in late-middle-age, Everett would S*P*R*I*N*T from his oily, manual-filled office to the service bay as you pulled up. He was meticulous in not just washing but POLISHING one’s windshield; no orchestra conductor wielded a baton as deftly as did Everett when extracting, wiping down, checking and reinserting the oil level indicator; and no service professional as sincere in bidding the customer farewell (this was well before the “Have a good one!” era) and wishing him or her a felicitous morning or afternoon.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Thanks David – we’ll see IF/when #Verizon @Verizon responds…

    • Bruce Sallan

      WHERE is Flying A today – and I think I’d literally faint if I ever had an “Everett” take care of me!

  • The JackB

    Hi Bruce,

    I have had similar issues with a few different companies and found the best resolution came from contacting someone higher up the food chain.

    Basically I look up the corporate leadership and identify two or three people that I think can help me and then I call/email them. It has worked beautifully for me. It takes some time but I would rather put that time in to dealing with someone who has the authority to make things happen than just keep getting the run around.

    You can do it too if you want.

    • Bruce Sallan

      Darn nice to “hear” from you @TheJackB:disqus – thx for the tip. I’ve done that too – it’s very often VERY hard to find any access to “those people” without hiring an Internet detective!

  • paulakiger

    I have had similar experiences with Verizon. I have had (limited) luck with being a squeaky wheel on twitter when diplomacy and face to face efforts failed. I will add an exemption for some local reps who have attempted (and often succeeded) in being helpful. But I agree from a corporate perspective they do not make customer service a priority.

    • Bruce Sallan

      @paulakiger:disqus – Well, NO company EVEN @Verizon can ignore a LOT of Social Media reaction/complaints – let’s keep the pressure on!

  • momstart1

    I waited an hour in their store just to switch from one phone to another, I tried doing it myself but it failed so I was forced to go into the store. People were walking out because the wait was so long and the most frustrating part was while we were in the store waiting, we could see Verizon personal just chatting away and laughing. I was so angry!

    • Bruce Sallan

      @momstart1:disqus – They – @Verizon – will ultimately only respond to one thing – enough lost business and outcry so let’s keep the pressure on them to even ACKNOWLEDGE their mis-steps – not a single reply to ALL the tweets promoting this post and my declarations on radio either! AMAZING…

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