My Beautiful Wickedness

The phone saga
September 19, 2008, 4:00 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I finally got around to tackling the phone company problem. My land-line provider has been “offering opportunities to go paperless” for years, but we’ve resisted because we don’t want companies being able to reach into our bank account. Lucky for us, as we’ve discovered when you have a billing problem, it’s good to have a paper invoice and some control over who gets paid and how much.

Last month we get a bill from our provider with several third-party charges attached — charges we hadn’t agreed to that mounted up to around $40. We rarely use the land-line anyhow, so this was a good time to terminate the service — this company has been jerking us for years on one thing or another and this was the final straw. Anyhow, after the initial intake rep, I sat on hold for about a half-hour and finally got someone in adjustments. I explained my grievance clearly and politely. She told me that she could not help me get the third-party charges off my bill, but she could block further ones from coming onto my bill. Then she tried to sell me a cable package for $140. I told her that this was not a good time, as I was intent on terminating my service. She then passed me over to someone who tried to be all patronizing and explain to me that the provider had no legal responsibility over those charges and was merely acting as the billing agent, to which I tartly responded that this was most unfortunate, as their failure to contract with ethical companies was about to cost them a customer. He got a little high-horsey with the “ma’am, I don’t think you understand…” and I cut him off with a “Sir, I want to terminate my service with this provider. Please connect me to someone who can do that.” Twenty minutes of ear-shattering hold music later (always make it difficult and unpleasant for consumers to discontinue your service), I finally got my service turned off.

Interestingly enough, it was far easier to get rid of the bogus third-party charges. These are scams that depend on a few people just not noticing and paying the charges without objection…because really…sending paperless faxes over e-mail? Is it just me or would that be called “sending e-mail.” The call-clerks were very professional and courteous and while I do not know if the problem has been completely resolved, it seems like they were really used to people calling and saying “I didn’t contract for these services and I want them off my bill.”

Side note: the scummier the operation or undesirable the job, the more the person on the other end sounded like a person of color. General intake at phone provider? White upstate NY woman. Adjustment of bill? Hispanic woman. Investigation? Black man. Termination (where pissed-off customers yell at you)? Black man. Third-party biller/scam operation? Black woman in Detroit; Indian woman in some offshore call center.


3 Comments so far
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Wow. I’d imagine the first unhappy soul had as a requirement that they had to offer the cable package to everybody with a billing dispute or s/he might have been docked on the review of the phone call… In my loog servitude in the call cube I have been forced to learn *never* let your tone of voice slide into *anything* the caller deems inapropriate. Always *sound* cheerful, resourceful and knowlegeable…

Which is hard as I tend to come off as brusque if I don’t put a watch on my manner. (my patronizing, arrogant schoolmarmishness only comes out though, when someone with a 400k home in a high end suburb gives me a “the dog ate my bill” story over say forty bucks that they agree they owe,but want an extension…I can’t help myself)

Comment by imfunny2


Having worked for Verizon and knowing how they do business I’ve come to the realization that individuals make mistakes, companies make policy.

Comment by democommie

Demo, here’s a question for someone who’s more knowledgeable than me. We were told repeatedly by Verizon that we couldn’t have high-speed without a landline, since that was the way that the signal was delivered. However, mysteriously (and I’m grateful for this), when our land line was cut on Friday, our internet is carrying on gamely. I know it is billed as a separate service, so is it merely policy that they won’t sell you high-speed without bundling it? Or is our signal not really off yet, just appearing to be blocked via a central computer until they get someone out to really throw the manual switch?

Comment by bridgett

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