Thursday, December 20, 2007

Bye Bye Verizon!

How much more does it cost to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one? This age old concept is part of any basic marketing or business curriculum anywhere. I guess Verizon can't be bothered with questions like this. Today they could have kept a customer, me, for the cost of a mere refurbished phone, instead they lost me and my $125/month annuity. It would have seemed to me to be a quick decision that would have paid them back within the first 2 weeks at most. Once again, the true meaning of the new word "VerizonMath" is again reinforced by their insightful policies.

I bet many of you are saying to yourselves "it's about time", but I stuck with them for a couple of reasons. 1) They do have great coverage. 2) I had a smart phone with unlimited data access which was convenient for connecting to my home machine, checking email etc. OK, so literally a couple of reasons, now that I look at it, its not that compelling.

My PDA phone has been acting up, shutting itself off right in the middle of calls, which my last one had done, and the one before that as well. It seems like every few months I needed to replace it.

I went to the local Verizon store, and I only wish I had recorded this experience as it was similarly comical to the famous call. First I explained to the greeter that my phone was acting up and I'd like to replace it with some basic phone, even a refurb.

I was "transfered" by the greeter to tech support since the fundamental issue was that my current phone was broken. The apathetic tech called my name, "Mr. George", I also noticed that another similarly enthusiastic tech called "Mrs. Kathy" around the same time. It seemed to me they might have had either a training issue or a software issue, but clearly a case of at least mild retardation all around. I mean, "Mrs. Kathy?" WTF?

Anyway, I explained the situation to the "tech" who explained that since I had insurance on my phone I could call Verizon and have them send me a new phone for $50. Great, except I didn't break the phone, it's mint, but defective. I had actually dropped one of my previous phones and used the insurance to get a new one so I was familiar with that process. I felt this was not a great option considering I have had many problems with this model (Audiovox XV6600) and didn't really want another one. I just wanted a simple phone and I could lose the PDA functions (to carry me until I found a better carrier/phone combo). He couldn't help me, so he "transfered" me to sales.

At this point the "transfer" process started to feel familiar yet very strange considering I was physically there in the store as opposed to on the phone.

I cut to the chase with the sales guy and asked him for a quote, full retail on the cheapest phone they had. He told me $189, and then looked into my account to find that I had a "credit" of $100 from Verizon's "new every 2" program. This was another bit of comedy. Since the cheapest phone they offer costs $189 (before $100 credit), "new every 2" really translates to "new every 2 at your cost of a few hundred for an equivalent phone or $89 for the crappiest phone we have, oh and by the way, we gotcha for another 2 years." Wow, thanks for that. How about I just cancel my contract since I'm past my 2 year commitment? Then I could conceivably just resign for another 2 years as a new customer and get more than $100 off a new phone. But that's what I get as a loyal Verizon customer, nothing.

I chose to cancel and walk. They suggested I cancel on the phone, but I wanted these idiots to personally experience whatever pain Verizon might dish (if any) to them for losing a customer. Honestly, I would have been happy paying $50 for a used crap phone.

So, I'm "transfered" again to customer service where I met the biggest gem of them all. I should have gotten his name. This guy, said "gnome sane" at least 10 times, which was baffling because he hadn't said anything that needed to be explained. I took my receipt for the cancellation and left. Fun times. See ya Verizon, it's been fun.

At any rate, I'm now without a cell phone. However I do have a BroadVoice VOIP account where anyone who has my old cell number, which I've had for years, can reach me as long as I'm in front of my computer. I can have my calls at that number routed by broadvoice to any other number for free - that's my version of number portability without all the hassles of the handover between cell carriers. I've been through my share of those - not fun.

I do have to get a new cell phone within the next month or so, and I wanted to ask for people's opinions. I travel very frequently so I can't go with a carrier/plan that has roaming charges or spotty coverage (I think that rules out T-Mobile (the spotty coverage part) - but that might have changed in the time since I had my account with them). I'd like 3g data, preferably DUN access so I can get online with my PC in the rare case when I'm not near a WI-FI hotspot, however this is not too important. I'd like a smartphone so I can send/receive emails, and preferably one with GPS (non subscription) since I used IGuidance on my PocketPC phone pretty frequently. Also, if it had WI-FI and a SIP client, that would be great too as I could use my BroadVoice account when I was home on the handset and not eat my airtime minutes, and not be stuck in front of my computer (as I am now with my PC based SIP software).

I'm thinking the iPhone would almost do what I want, sans the 3G and the GPS, but I hear from the Apple rumor mill those might be getting solved early next year with the next gen iPhone.

I did have a MOTO RAZR on a recent trip to Australia, and I loved the battery life - not having to charge the phone except every few days was amazing considering I usually had to have my pda phone plugged in whenever I was home and it'd barely last 8 hours on standby.

Anyway, if any of you have ideas, opinions about carriers and service and phones, I'd appreciate the insights. For the first time in over 10 years I don't have a cell phone, it feels a bit strange.

Alternatively, if AT&T want to send me a next gen (or current gen) iPhone or Nokia N95 and treat me like a king with a free subscription for a year just to prove how great they are, and really rub it into Verizon's face what a horrible company they are, that sounds good too.

In the meantime I'm just happy to be rid of those idiots. Honestly, I have never dealt with a company that valued its customers so low, and expressed it so clearly. "Worry free guarantee", "new every two" - my ass. So much for "in" - I'm out!


silver_yummies said...

Hey - check out Alltel. Great service for me atleast in the midwest. I just found your blogs now and read every single one. That audio was unreal. Oh, and I hate my new razr phone, the battery life sucks on mine. I have to charge it every night. Blahhh - keep updating us on your provider!

George Vaccaro said...


Thanks, I actually checked out Alltel, but even entering both of my primary zip codes (one on the east coast, the other on the west) they say that they do not offer service at either.

I wonder if the Australian network (Telstra) uses a different spectrum that affects the battery life - I'll keep that in mind - thanks!

Tom said...

i agree with you a 100% but here's the problem. Even though Verizon as a whole might want to keep you--which they probably do. The system they have setup STINKS and here's why it exists. The Role of the stores is to make money and they do they buy selling phone or repairing phones(which they get paid for by corporate). now the role of the 800 numbers is to get you customer service maybe lousy but it works. They never tell anybody this is how the system works. I used to work for Sprint PCS and you in this situation don't make they money because it was the manufacturers fault not theirs or yours. "Phone Swapping" as its called is how Verizon and The manufacturer exchange damaged product. If you call the 800 stay on hold and then tell them this whole story I would bet that they would send you out the "swap kit" as its called or Set up an appointment with somebody at the store to get it resolved. The primary problem is greed nobody you talked to is going to make money solving your problem but Verizon corp DOES want to keep your service (unless you have a ton of issues) .I've show lots of people how to call customer service and basically threaten them with your length and financial value as a customer. I'd be glad to walk you through it if you email me.

Tom Titlow Jr

Chad Moran said...

If you don't mind CDMA I would suggest Sprint. I just signed up with sprint about a week ago with the Motorola Q9c.

Plan: Sprint SERO 1000 Minutes, Unlimited Data, Unlimited TXT for $48/month
Phone: Motorola Q9c (Smartphone running Windows Mobile 6.0)

Open GPS Receiver (Apps like Live Search Maps and Google Maps can use it)

Easy to use QWERTY Keyboard

Phone as modem tethering supported

Bluetooth 2.0

USB Cable included (syncs with Outlook and charges via USB)

HUGE extended battery (with heavy use my phone lasted 4 days)

Hope this helps. :)

Barbara said...

George, you are my hero.

benhz said...

George, Since you are looking for a new data plan, check out the ATT site posted here....Seems that they don't want to commit to dollars or cents!

George Vaccaro said...


You are probably right that Verizon corporate wanted to keep my business - although the "my" part I'm not so sure of. It still seems like crappy business to create an environment where the stores goals are not in sync with corporate's.

@chad moran

Sprint is looking like a pretty good option, although believe it or not I had a problem a few years back with nextel that makes me not want to go back. I had the "unlimited plan" with them which cost over $200/month, and just as I was switching to verizon (they were the only carrier with evdo at the time) I forwarded my calls to my new verizon number from my nextel number. What I didn't realize was that call fowarding was the one thing that was not unlimited... Seems kinda shitty to claim a plan is all inclusive and not list the exceptions clearly. I'll give them another look though now that they are now also sprint.

@barbara - ;)

@benhz - too funny. That's a new twist. I assume the canadian data rate is .015 dollars/KB - which interestingly is 7.5 times the verizon rate, or $15.36/MB - that's @#$@# nuts!

Thanks all for the comments!

yenomoris said...

I used to have one of the several moto razr models (it was called V3i in India). I'm now using a Nokia E65 which has been excellent so far. I typically use the wifi for about 4 - 5 hours a day, and play music on the loudspeaker for about half an hour to an hour, and perhaps an hour of talktime everyday. The battery seems to last for over 24 hours before needing to be charged.

I have heard that the E70 is an even better experience - perhaps you should take a look at these two phones.

No GPS on the E65, unfortunately.

David said...

George: Just read all your posts about your experiences and I'm really impressed with how diligent you've been in pursuing this. As far as carriers I would look into AT&T. While there are still problems I have had an overall good experience with them. And the iPhone is an amazing device. I would avoid Sprint/Nextel at all costs. I have close friends who have been treated very poorly by Sprint and I would never use them.

George Vaccaro said...


Thanks, actually the other day I got myself a blackjack II from AT&T. See my latest post for my experiences. Thanks for the suggestion - so far I am very happy with them. And also, I've already been through it once with Nextel and I had bad customer service experiences with them as well - so your post was spot on in my opinion.

Marcus said...

Hi George. I work for Verizon Wireless and I admit, there are a few dense people that work around me, as was shown by the dollars/cents issue, however, the main issue is with education/training.

I bring up education and training because when people don't know something, we tend to fill in the blanks and make assumptions. If the people you encountered had been properly educated, then this blog would likely not exist in it's current form. Likewise, had you as a customer been properly educated on the "New Every Two", you would have known that a phone that costs $189 at full retail, has two other price points depending on whether you sign a one or a two year contract. Actually, this is true for any major carrier in the U.S. whether they have a New Every Two or not (they don't).

The New Every Two actually takes your "up to $100 credit" off of the 2yr contract price. For instance, the Samsung Gleam (full retail was $319.99 on its release)is currently selling for $149.99 w/ a 2yr contract. There is also a $50 rebate or online discount. $149.99 - $50 = $99.99. Subtract "up to" $100 from that. Since the amount is under $100, we would subtract the maximum from $99.99 (in this case, the maximum would be $99.99) and be left with $0 for your new phone. Yes you would sign a 2 year contract for that deal, but as you stated, the service worked for you.
It was your experience with certain people that you were unhappy with. Trust me, you will have the same unhappy experience at any other carrier... its just a matter of time. Some people that I work with have worked at AT&T/Cingular/Sprint...etc, before coming to Verizon Wireless.

Anyway, the reason for this lengthy comment is that, based off of your comments and using figures from my example above, it seems that you are somehow under the impression that a phone with a retail price of over $300, that can be had for free by a resigning somehow a lesser deal than a new customer would recieve. I don't follow your logic on this one. A new customer would have to pay the $99.99. That same amount that was taken off of your 2 year discounted price. With this in mind, I don't see how in it's original context, "But that's what I get as a loyal Verizon customer, nothing." is a valid statement. Can you explain please?

This is how I understand your statment:

George pays: $0*
New customer pays $99.99*
(* = plus tax if applicable)

$99.99 is a better deal than FREE

That is what you are saying, right?


George Vaccaro said...


I'm not sure where the confusion comes from. Firstly, I am not an expert on Verizon prices and rates although at this point it could be argued that I know more than many of your fellow employees.

That said, I went into a store as to eliminate the challenges of telephone communication and simply asked what the cheapest phone in the store was. Which according to a sales rep was $189 retail - no contract. He said with my new every 2 discount it could be had for $89 but would require me to extend my contract 2 more years.

I didn't assume anything other than that the sales rep knew what he was talking about - my only possible mistake here was once again believing that someone at Verizon knew what the hell they were talking about.

It appears you seem to be implying that if retail (no contract) was $189, then the 2 year contract price should have been something less than that, let's say $89, and that my new every 2 should have saved me up to $100, in this case the final price to me being $0 + a 2 year commitment. If this is true, the rep was wrong - if this is not true then the rep quoted me the wrong price for buying the phone without a contract extension. Either way the problem is on the side of Verizon, in this case a specific employee, knowing Verizon's policies.

As for that I was happy with their service, service is obviously a multifaceted factor - of which having a knowledgeable and dependable customer service department is a huge component. You know who I'm talking about, its not a bunch of towers in your Verizon commercials - its a load of people that are supposedly standing behind you as a Verizon customer. In my experience this is nothing short of a flat out lie.

At this very moment I received yet another email from another unhappy Verizon customer seeking my help in setting their situation straight.

If you truly believe in your company and your trademarked "Worry free guarantee" then send me an email to and I will forward this person's email to you so you can reconcile it because Chris has taken the normal steps and above and beyond (emailed the CEO) and has been facing the same stubborn/uninformed and dare I say fraudulent practices that I had to deal with as documented by this blog.

Put your money where your mouth is Marcus - either way I'll be happy to document exactly what happens.

mandy said...

Lack of service after the "sale " is what Verizon is guilty of. After buying into verizon's triple package I had a Great picture on my TV, fast internet service and acceptable home phone service... it was not UNTIL I NEEDED CUSTOMER ASSISTANCE that I found out how poor customer service was going to be!!! Hours spent waiting to speak with a live person became more and more frustrating and never finding resolution was even more frustrating... to the point of surrendering and paying bills that they were overcharging me for JUST TO END THE PAIN OF DEALING WITH THEM!!!! It was not until I MISTAKENLY got transferred to a rep who cared and spent time digging through my file and finally uncovered the source of my overbilling! It was a ghost acct. that never got closed even when service had already been discontinued for over 2 months! The relief and joy that came over me when we found this ghost acct. was just a breath of fresh air!
Verizon is a company that I have dealt with as far back as when they were New York Telephone... I removed all of my accts. with them and have gone to Cablevision. It made me sad to not do business with them any longer but they have a lot of interior cleaning up to do as well as interior communication so that each part of the very big new company they have become can service their excisting customers the way they used to when all they were was a telephone company

kevinski said...

George, the store rep whom you spoke with didn't know what he was talking about, whereas what marcus said is true. While it's nothing more than an assumption, I'd chalk this up to the store rep being a new employee (or so I hope).

I found this site as a result of that $.002 fiasco. It's always sad to see a customer (whether he/she is a long-term customer or a brand new customer) go because of things like this. I have my own problems with certain companies, so I know that - for some sick, twisted reason - certain people just tend to have a ton of bad luck with a single company. Yours is VZW, apparently.

Cyb3rTr0n said...

Verizon has the best coverage, at least in my area. I have tried all carriers over the last 10 years and came back to verizon.

all cellular companies are a ri[p-off pretty much, same with cable.

but sometimes you need top bite the bullet and pay for something if you want it.

as far as your .002 cent con. I give you props for catching the customer service reps bad ability to communicate math.

but you did owe the $72.. no fault on verizon as a company. the wording was there in their contract/fees. you just happened to catch the right people that failed in the communications

Debbie said...

George, I am in an area that only Alltel towers covered, so I got an Alltel phone. Shortly after that, Verzion swallowed them up and here I am with what I was assuming were the very same towers and I now have horrible service. The service I have now is no better than the Sprint service that I left them for. After looking at your responses from their customer service, it looks like Sprint customer service is now working for Verizon. My problem now is that NO ONE but Verizon has service in my area, so I am stuck. I am thinking of talking to someone in my state's AG's office and asking how this is a good idea for this state. If you are coming to Eastern NC looking for Alltel, they are no longer here and here is what you see online from Verizon customers in the area, "I want my Alltel back!!!!!!!!!!!".