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Verizon Makes Offering Service Blocks a Fireable Offense 370

Posted by Soulskill
from the customer-is-always-ripe dept.
Presto Vivace sends in a report from David Pogue at the New York Times, who learned from a Verizon customer service representative that the company has implemented a policy of punishing employees who suggest certain service blocks to customers looking to avoid unwanted or accidental fees. According to the representative, offering (for example) a web access block or premium SMS block without the customer asking for it can now lead to a reprimand or outright termination. The CSRs have also been directed to avoid issuing credits for such charges. "Essentially, we are to upsell customers on the $9.99 25mb/month or $29.99 unlimited packages for customers. Customers are not to be credited for charges unless they ask for the credit. And in cases such as data or premium SMS, where the occurrences may have gone months without the consumer noticing, only an initial credit can be issued."
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Verizon Makes Offering Service Blocks a Fireable Offense

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  • Surprise? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by colinrichardday (768814) <colin.day.6@hotmail.com> on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:30AM (#32631948)

    Is this really such a surprise?

    • Re:Surprise? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by erroneus (253617) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:56AM (#32632140) Homepage

      It is in the "this is so outrageously disgusting that it can't possibly be true" sense of the word.

      People who would offer service blocks are the same people who would endear a customer to the service provider as the company would then appear to show concern and interest in the customer's needs and interests. "Caring about the customer" was once the hallmark of a good and confident business and people were literally attracted to such companies. As I was growing up, this sort of behavior was simply normal and when a company didn't behave that way, I would tend to blame the employee rather than the company. Seeing this simply firms up my feeling about Verizon... and I mean ALL of Verizon.

      Without fail, every service channel provided Verizon whether it is Verizon wireless, Verizon FiOS, Verizon business PRI service, Verizon T1 data service, Verizon DS3 or simply Verizon POTS is simply rife with bad customer service. Once the service is working, it stays working -- no complaints there, but every time PEOPLE get involved there are problems and while I have always suspected it came from the top, my suspicions have been increasingly with added evidence and now I get this story to add to it. I literally had to email the executive vice president of business sales to get ANY attention to my problems at all. The business office people would NOT respond to my emails or phone calls. And when I contacted their bosses I would get something along the lines of "I'll get someone on it right now!" and then nothing. Hell, even the EVP of sales didn't respond to her own email mail... she sent it to a lackey who is "showing interest" by investigating my claims before taking any action. So far, several days and NO action... just "showing interest" and "investigating."

      * I would never willingly be a Verizon Customer * The character of the company is so rotten and corrupt that it simply makes me sick. If anyone wants this EVP's contact information I would be happy to provide it. They need a COMPLETE earful.

      • Re:Rife (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TaoPhoenix (980487)

        Yea, I made seventeen phone calls in to the four departments to get a DSL dry loop line. You have to get really aggressive to get anything done. There ARE some service saints in there somewhere, so when you get one, get their ID number or sometimes first and last name and then ask for them.

        Re your last line, I AM willingly a (disgusted) customer because I think Comcast is worse! Last I recalled on the Evil front, Verizon was SLIGHTLY less evil.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by PCPackrat (1251400)
          Thing is, CSR jobs have more turnover than McDonalds. You can get their name, ID, or extension number, but they probably won't be there in 6 months when your next problem occurs.
          • Re:Rife (Score:4, Interesting)

            by nebular (76369) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:59AM (#32632574) Homepage

            Very true. As a CSR your treated like shit by the customer because of restrictive policies that keep you from doing a good job and your treated like shit by the management because you are so easily replaced they don't have to care.

            My usual line when it comes to Phone reps is that 20% will be fired within 3 months because they just got the job for the 6 weeks or so of paid training (I knew someone who decided to quit by just putting his headset on the table and reading a book, still in the phone queue, lasted a month before they found out his calls were just dead air) 70% are doing their jobs just to the letter and don't give a shit about you or the job their doing and 10% actually care and try to do what's best for you. That 10% usually quit after 6 months to a year from stress and disillusionment.

            I work for Fido Wireless now. Our website actually gives you the steps and walks your through them for a complaint escalation all the way up to the ombudsman. I can, without fear of reprecusions advise customers exactly how to get what they need. I also don't work the phones anymore.

            • Re:Rife (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Imrik (148191) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @12:51PM (#32632920) Homepage

              No, the 10% get fired when their bosses find out that they're trying to help the customers.

              • Re:Rife (Score:5, Interesting)

                by The Archon V2.0 (782634) on Monday June 21, 2010 @12:16AM (#32637024)

                No, the 10% get fired when their bosses find out that they're trying to help the customers.

                Actually, 5% get fired. The other 5% get fucked over repeatedly by the company until they quit, which looks better on the books. Things like:

                Reprimanded severely for "missing critical training" that was announced and took place during the person's (approved) vacation or during a medical emergency.

                Shifts changed repeatedly (day to evening to graveyard and back) or made insane (a day of 12 hours, a day of 8, 2 days of 4, a day of 12).

                Supervisor changed repeatedly without notice.

                Security harassing a specific person several days in a row because their car was parked improperly (where 'improperly' is trivial stuff like being 2 inches off being perfectly parallel with the parking space lines, not stuff like taking up two spaces). Though I admit that could've just been the security guards being dicks.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Khuffie (818093)
              Looking at Fido's escalation process, 'Step 2' is where it fails all the time. The last time I had a problem that customer service couldn't resolve, I asked to speak to a manager, wherein the rep replied that all the managers were in a meeting and no one could take my call. Every single one. At the same time. And no one could field problems. Took my number down and said a manager would call me in 24 hours. When no one did, I called back, and once again I got the same line that every manager was in a meeting
            • Re:Rife (Score:4, Funny)

              by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @02:28PM (#32633544) Homepage Journal

              I've met your twin. Customer service was incapable of doing anything more than running through their meaningless checklist, and were completely stymied when I informed them that I didn't have a Windows computer in the house. I finally got hold of a guy who was able to ask pertinent questions, and fix my lack of DSL. I wrote his name down, and I always ask for him when I have any reason to call.

              Funny thing is, he isn't customer service anymore. He's been promoted to a a manager's position.

              I'll give credit where credit is due though. Today, my DSL provider has something there for the reps. If you call in, tell them that you have a Mac or a *nix box, they turn their little pages to the chapter titled "Mac users" or "Linux users". The support still isn't much, but at least they know how to "escalate" a problem.

              Parenthetically - WTF is it with escalating a problem? I want a problem SOLVED, not escalated. I'm not fighting a band of rebels in the jungle, and I don't need artillery called in, with an airstrike. I just want the damned server rebooted, or the networking services on the router restarted, no escalations please.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              (I knew someone who decided to quit by just putting his headset on the table and reading a book, still in the phone queue, lasted a month before they found out his calls were just dead air)

              Did he get an award for his low call times before they realized? Where I worked we had someone who kept telling people to buy a new printer cable no matter what the problem with the printer was. Ink leaking out the bottom? New cable! Grinding noises? New cable! Windows says you need a driver? New cable! Kept her call times damn low, so much so that people were told to emulate her.

      • Re:Surprise? (Score:4, Informative)

        by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @05:30PM (#32634832)

        Well said. Bravo. Rather than accept such attitudes, people should tell Verizon exactly why they're leaving and leave. In my case, I did and went to Sprint who happens to also have much better service and coverage in my area. While Sprint's CS hasn't been completely stellar, it's well above Verizon's, and like erroneus, I always suspected it came from the top. If I hadn't already made the change, I would be making it right now. No-one should tolerate such business practices. Additionally, since they are making a policy of refusing to credit accidental charges, I wonder if that doesn't fall directly under deceptive trade practices since they obviously know that such charges are being unintentionally incurred, and they are knowingly profiting off such as well as implementing policies specifically intended to profit off these deceptive practices.

        On the other side of this, I have worked as a phone rep. In fact I have worked at a contractor who at the time had the Verizon account. I'm not sure if that contractor still does Verizon support, but they take pride in following such practices..."whatever the client wants" even if that client is plainly screwing the customer. Today's version of 'customer service' has made me so disillusioned I am strongly considering getting out of tech and into something like food services, where good customer service and providing quality goods is actually still appreciated and is even rewarded to a large degree.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by oddTodd123 (1806894)

        the EVP of sales didn't respond to her own email mail... she sent it to a lackey

        If anyone wants this EVP's contact information...

        So, you're saying if we want to get in touch with the EVP's lackey, you'll send us that contact information?

    • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:58AM (#32632150)
      Verizon CRS: Thank you for calling Verizon.
      Customer: I'd like to block all of your special services on my Verizon account.
      Verizon CRS: Oh, OK. ... I'll need to get special permission for that. Have you submitted that request in writing? We can only accept it in writing.
      Customer: In writing? You're a phone company!
      Verizon CRS: Not just a phone company - we offer many extra wonderful and expensive services.
      Customer: But I don't want any of those extra wonderful and expensive services.
      Verizon CRS: I'm very sorry to hear that, but I can't hear you. You'll have to submit that in writing.
      Customer: Are you kidding me?
      Verizon CRS: No sir. We take our billing practices very seriously. Did you know that blocking all special extra wonderful services includes blocking all incoming and outgoing calls?
      Customer: What?
      Verizon CRS: Yes, those are part of the 'Premium Call Package'.
      Customer: What does the 'Basic' call package include?
      Verizon CRS: The opportunity for us to offer you many special extra wonderful and expensive services.
      Customer: But I don't want those!
      Verizon CRS: Submit your request in writing. Please allow 6 - 8 weeks for processing. There is a $9.99 charge for terminating each of our many special extra wonderful services. Thank you for calling Verizon.
      • by AkaXakA (695610) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:45AM (#32632482) Homepage

        This Verizon policy is just like in the Incredibles! People working there will have to find ways around it...

        MRS. HOGENSON: [sobbing] I'm on a fixed income, and if you can't help me,
        I don't know what I'll do. [blows nose loudly] [sobbing]

        BOB: All right, listen closely. I'd like to help you, but I
        can't. I'd like to tell you to take a copy of your policy to Norma Wilcox
        on...[whispering] Norma Wilcox. W-l-L-C-O-X. On the third floor. But I can't. I
        also do not advise you to fill out and file a WS2475 form with our legal
        department on the second floor. I wouldn't expect someone to get back to you
        quickly to resolve the matter. I'd like to help, but there's nothing I can do.

        MRS. HOGENSON: Oh, thank you, young man.

        BOB: Shhh! [shouting] I'm sorry, ma'am! I know you're upset!
        [whispering] Pretend to be upset.

        MRS. HOGENSON: [sobbing]

      • Remember that only because someone is stating something, that does not make it reality. Also a contract term is not a law. Not even remotely.
        For that to be the case, you first have to buy into their bullshit delusional reality. Secondly, sign that contract. And third, actually accept it as being a legal practice. (A contract term is still illegal when it’s not legal, even when you signed it!)

        Protip (obviously): Don’t make such contracts.
        If that means no phone, no Internet, and no everything, the

        • ... then I suggest moving to a free country! ^^ (Really!)

          I was tempted to pickup and move to Petoria [wikipedia.org] but I heard the border guards at 'Checkpoint Quahog' were impossible to deal with.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by CAIMLAS (41445)

        That's actually not that far from the truth. Frankly, I'm surprised this wasn't their policy in the first place.

        We went for approximately a year trying to get Verizon to block incoming SMS on one of our lines. Apparently someone with many stupid, non-English speaking friends didn't notify any of them of their number change.

        Even after we repeatedly asked to block the SMS, they wouldn't do it (saying it wasn't possible). "We can't block incoming SMS" and other such nonsense - but we'll gladly charge you $$$ f

  • by selven (1556643) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:31AM (#32631952)

    Customer Service: We're not happy until you're not happy.

    • Customer service is our number 1 goal. Except when it gets in the way of our number 2 goal of turning a profit.

  • by Dachannien (617929) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:32AM (#32631968)

    Phone companies are assholes.

    Film at 11.

  • by qbel (1792064) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:34AM (#32631978)
    It is very likely the customer service representatives who are offering those service blocks to better accommodate those customers are the better representatives who are actually trying to do a good job. And people wonder why customer service for some companies is so horrible, it is because of policies like this.
    • by noidentity (188756) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:43AM (#32632050)
      CSR = Company Service Representative. See, just a simple misunderstanding.
    • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:47AM (#32632072)

      It is very likely the customer service representatives who are offering those service blocks to better accommodate those customers are the better representatives who are actually trying to do a good job. And people wonder why customer service for some companies is so horrible, it is because of policies like this.

      Its the bean-counters' fault.
      Revenue losses from service blocks and credits are really easy to measure.
      Profits from customers made happy by good customer service are really hard to measure.
      So, as is frequently the case when organizations become hyper-focused on metrics,
      decisions get made that maximize metrics but don't make good business sense.

      • by tepples (727027)

        Profits from customers made happy by good customer service are really hard to measure.

        But these profits can be estimated based on the revenue from customers who have stayed with the company past month 24.

        • by Bigjeff5 (1143585)

          And how do you know how many customers would have left with poorer customer service, and how do you know how many more customers you would have retained/gained had you better customer service? Especially in the case of Verizon, who is consistently ranked at the top in surveys of customer satisfaction?

          How do you count that?

          It can be estimated, but an estimate always less trustworthy than a fact. The bean counters can say "We saved a million dollars last month by simply cutting out X." What if the effects

          • by green1 (322787) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @01:09PM (#32633072)

            One of the metrics used quite extensively by the telecom company that I work for is "churn" this is the percentage of customers that leave the service. It is compared extensively with churn numbers from our competing carriers, as well as with our historic churn levels for previous quarters or years.
            The company is well aware of the cost to acquire a new customer, (they have it figured out down to fractions of a cent) and the churn rate for existing customers.

            Although this doesn't help you see "why" someone left, you CAN see any trends based on various policies. (ie. we instituted policy "screw the customer" in Q1 2009, and in subsequent quarters we started to show a higher churn rate, maybe we should re-think that policy?)

            Additionally whenever anyone cancels their service, A rep tries to get a reason out of the customer, this is obviously 2 fold, part of it is to try to keep them by offering some form of "save" deal, but the other one is to keep statistics on why people leave, if most people leave for "price" then you consider changes to pricing structure, if most people leave for "reliability" you consider upgrades to infrastructure, if most people leave for "customer service"... well... our execs still haven't decided what to do about that one... but I'm sure they'll figure it out eventually...

      • by Progman3K (515744)

        It's the bean-counters' fault.
        Revenue losses from service blocks and credits are really easy to measure.
        Profits from customers made happy by good customer service are really hard to measure.
        So, as is frequently the case when organizations become hyper-focused on metrics,
        decisions get made that maximize metrics but don't make good business sense.

        I suppose if they performed long-term trending analysis they'd realize that after adopting a policy like the one they have just put in place, they will lose customer

      • Suppose you could identify the customers who you didn't really want to keep? The ones that TRY to optimize their usage of your plans to THEIR benefit?

        And the ones who call into your support lines driving up YOUR support line costs?

        Everyone else is a "good" customer who takes what you provide and pays the price you demand.

        So yeah, it makes sense at the corporate "fuck the customer" level to fire employees who not only aren't trying to "fuck the customer" but are trying to HELP the customer optimize the CUSTO

      • I've read many comments about "bad customer service" but I'm not sure that they are accurate: Those customers who are savvy enough to make an informed choice are not going to be affected by this policy and will interact with knowledgeable frendly CSR's or weak stupid CSR's and this policy would have no bearing on customer service, since they will pay attention, know their options, and ask for the services and options. Those that don't will encounter the same good or bad CSR's and forge ahead in blissful
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ambitwistor (1041236)

        "Since it is generally impossible to measure what is important, bureaucrats instead turn their energies toward making important what is measurable." — J.M.W. Slack, Egg and Ego

      • by nine-times (778537) <nine.times@gmail.com> on Sunday June 20, 2010 @01:11PM (#32633082) Homepage

        So, as is frequently the case when organizations become hyper-focused on metrics, decisions get made that maximize metrics but don't make good business sense.

        Quoted for emphasis. Excellent point. I think this problem is pervasive in our culture right now, even including our attempts to improve education.

        Interestingly (at least I think it's interesting), it seems to me to be caused by the right-wing's insistence on "capitalism" as a moral system (i.e. short-term profits are the only thing that matters), mixed with the left-wing insistence on "science" as wisdom (i.e. nothing is true unless it's quantifiable and provable). It's like a perfect storm of dumb ideologies, with some general greed, incompetence, and stupidity thrown in for good measure.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by advocate_one (662832)

          Interestingly (at least I think it's interesting), it seems to me to be caused by the right-wing's insistence on "capitalism" as a moral system (i.e. short-term profits are the only thing that matters), mixed with the left-wing insistence on "science" as wisdom (i.e. nothing is true unless it's quantifiable and provable). It's like a perfect storm of dumb ideologies, with some general greed, incompetence, and stupidity thrown in for good measure.

          which is why the Chinese are royally fscking us over as they k

    • by OzPeter (195038)

      It is very likely the customer service representatives who are offering those service blocks to better accommodate those customers are the better representatives who are actually trying to do a good job. And people wonder why customer service for some companies is so horrible, it is because of policies like this.

      I'm likely to be one of the first to complain about bad service and practices, and I strongly dislike the way cell phone companies work in the US. However from TFA all I can see is a case of he said/she said. Is what the CSR said actually company policy, or is it just local management actions? Likewise I would expect a PR flunkie to say whatever in order to protect the company rather than saying the actual truth. But they will say the truth if it to the benefit of the company

      I can't deny TFA because I s

      • The PR flunkie never contradicted the CSR: They kept saying that if the customer requests it, the CSRs should implement the block, and that the blocks were still available. And the no CSR will be fired for implementing a block that the customer requests. (Of course, they have to make sure the customer knows all the features they will be missing out on by having the block, by listing them all...)

        The CSR said that the policy is that they are never to offer to the customer a block.

        So, after reading both: If

        • by OzPeter (195038)

          If the customer doesn't know about the blocks, it is a firable offense to inform them of them. No contradictions with either statement.

          From TFA

          First, she flatly denied that a customer service rep can be fired for suggesting a data block.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2010 @10:52AM (#32632118)
    T-mobile, say what you will about its coverage. But it has excellent customer service. They voluntarily suggested these blocks, and they have lower rate plans for people out of contract who don't need subsidized phones. As the market is saturated, most people who want cell phones got them. Those who don't need/want premium service are happy with their two or three year old phones. T-mobile, and others who are offering lower rate plans without phone subsidies are going to retain these customers. And the nickle and dimers like AT&T and Verizon would find it difficult to peel off customers from them.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:01AM (#32632180)
      I fully agree with the T-Mobile recommendation. Another thing to try for those of you with minimal needs is one of the prepaid plans offered by some of the smaller carriers. These plans piggyback on the major provider's networks (you'll need to research to see who has paired up with whom), and they are substantially cheaper. My co-worker and his wife use these, and they pay about 100 bucks a year for both phones. There are frequently 2-for-1 minute top-off deals that come up. If you're frugal, you can get some good deals.
    • by ZosX (517789) <zosxavius@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:03AM (#32632190) Homepage

      I second this. I have T-mobile and while their android phone selection is kind of sucking right now, I can still get away with wireless tethering for free and they have one of the largest caps (10 gigs). I've easily blown through 2-5 gigs already this month. They also just boosted their speeds locally and I'm now pulling like 2.5-4mbps, which is a lot better than the 1mbps I was getting previously. Don't know when I'll start to see speeds over 5mbps, but I should probably upgrade to the latest radio. The worst they do to the people that exceed their caps is drop them down to edge, which still at least leaves their phones somewhat usable. Every other provider wants to nickel and dime you to death. Boost is good for cheap phone service, but their network is terrible and nowhere even near edge quality. I'd feel pretty bad for anyone that bought their proposed android phone. Its going to be rather painful. Seems like sprint is content to milk the old nextel network for all its worth.

      • Maybe because they’re just not capable of being *that* evil, considering how on the German market, where they come from, they would be done and dead, if they dared to act like a US phone company.

        I’m downright shocked by how you think you “got away” with wireless tethering.
        It’s a function of your phone, isn’t it? What gave anyone the idea that it is controllable or even acceptable to disable built-in functions that you’re STILL paying for. (You still pay for your ban

    • by OzPeter (195038)
      Also agree with T-mobile. When I wanted to unlock my phone they said "Sure!". I have also heard that they will support iPhone on their network. My only gripe is that in my own home I get at max 1 or 2 bars
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by mlts (1038732) *

      The outstanding thing about T-Mobile is that they are forthright about their fees.

      If some app on my Android phone decided to start eating bandwidth like mad, I'd just have to deal with EDGE speeds until the next billing cycle. If this happened on another provider, I'd be owing them a lot of cash.

      My idea for a compromise: Have a maximum limit of bandwidth, and throttle (not kill) to EDGE speed once a user hits it. For example, the customer can buy x amount of bandwidth base per month, then authorized y mo

    • by Y-Crate (540566)

      I have to agree. T-Mobile reps have always been willing to find ways to match their various plans and options to my needs and budget.

      The consequence of this is that I've been with them for over six years, as opposed to the two I originally planned on.

      Another T-Mobile story:

      Some years back I got a credit on my account that I couldn't explain. Suspicious, I called T-Mobile and their rep assured me it was legit and not a mistake. It was a mistake. Four months later someone realized that they had given me a few

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by SpzToid (869795)

      T-mobile has the lowest price for data-only service, at $40 monthly. This has been the case for years. If you've got your VOIP setup down, you already know this is all you need. One SIM allows easy-tethering also.

      http://www.t-mobile.com/shop/plans/cell-phone-plans-detail.aspx?tp=tb1&rateplan=Even-More-Plus-Smartphone-Unlimited-Web-E-mail [t-mobile.com]

      My brother drives a truck around Northern Arizona and I've been trying to get him to switch to such a plan, but he says there's nothing like Verizon coverage in the area

  • In my experience, this won't make any difference. They don't tell you about data/web blocks anyways. I happened to read a mention of that concept on /. shortly before getting my most recent phone. So I asked and got that without a problem. Yay.

    Though I suppose the noteworthy bit here is to assume that there's hidden money to be had/saved when dissatisfied. Because ya, they don't tell you.

  • I'm pretty sure phones are designed to be one button away from a multiple dollar data fee if you don't have a data plan. Every phone I owned would happily connect to some webpage owned by the cell phone company and proceed to download 200-300k before you could figure out you hit the wrong button. Moreover, some of them have flat out refused to stop downloading the page until it's done, meaning that you just got dinged a megabyte on your ten cents per kilobyte lack of data plan.

    • by Compholio (770966)

      Every phone I owned would happily connect to some webpage owned by the cell phone company and proceed to download 200-300k before you could figure out you hit the wrong button.

      That's one of the reasons I like older phones, they're too slow to connect to the internet before you can click cancel.

  • Not that I believe AT&T has no problems, because it absolutely does. But I figure I use my iPhone more for data services than phone calls anyway and that's one of AT&T's strong areas. But at least I'm not giving my money to Verizon no matter how good their coverage is -- they're basically jackasses.

  • If Verizon doesn't want to sell these options to customers why are they even offering them? Why not just withdraw these options for new customers and only include them for people grandfathered in and already have them? What am I missing here?
  • by webdog314 (960286) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:14AM (#32632260)

    We seriously need a federal regulation making blocking of excessive fees ($5,000 increase in phone bill due to teenage txting) automatic. Allow the user to put a definable cap on their bill which requires a phone call to the telco to exceed. "I never want to pay more than $300 on my bill." It would cut off all but emergency service and calls to the telco itself if it hit the cap. It could even cut off all but voice service as the cap was approached.

    Verizon does allow users to turn on and off various blocking services on their website, but more people don't care enough to even make that much of a decision.

    • by Rich0 (548339) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:57AM (#32632564) Homepage

      Agreed. I'd go a step further and require everybody to pick a maximum monthly charge when they sign up for their account - it can be as low as whatever number was advertised on the TV set (if they advertise an amount that doesn't cover fees, then the fees are on the telco). The telco can block service if you exceed your amount, but if they provide the service they can't bill you for it, and they can't carry it over to next month either, etc.

      If somebody CHOOSES to spend $10k on data roaming that is their choice. I don't think we need price fixing (yet). However, people shouldn't be sold services they have no intention of actually buying. Cell phone companies are like the guys who run up and wash your windows in the city and then demand payment.

  • DIY (Score:5, Informative)

    by audubon (577473) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:23AM (#32632326)
    You can go to verizonwireless.com and add (or remove) the blocks yourself (note: some of the links are found at the extreme right or bottom of the page):

    Account -> Plan -> Set Usage Controls -> Add/Remove Blocks

    • Block Ringback Tone Purchase
    • Block Premium Messaging
    • Block V CAST Music
    • Block Premium Animated Messaging
    • Block Mobile Web
    • Block Web Purchases
    • Block V CAST Video Clips
    • Block Application Downloads
  • They didn't deny it. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Posting=!Working (197779) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:29AM (#32632356)

    The source claims that they can be fired if they suggest data blocks unless a customer specifically asks for them.

    Verizon's defense was that no employee would be fired for adding a data block if a customer specifically asked for one.

    What's really disturbing is that the reporter actually accepted this as a valid defense. Their answer covers when a customer specifically asks for a block, the firing in question occurs when a customer does not.

    How specifically do the customers have to ask? Is asking for them to stop these ridiculous charges enough, or do you have to ask for a data block specifically? Would you still have to request download blocking, Vcast blocking, etc. by name?

    They designed the phone interface to maximize the frequency of these charges, I'm pretty sure they make stopping them as difficult as possible. As far as companies go, Verizon is among the lowest of the low.

  • This year's executive bonuses have to come from some place, it does however tell something about their overall financial health.

  • Frustration (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Munden (681257) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @11:56AM (#32632558)

    I was given the task of overseeing our company's 102 user Verizon phone bill each month back in Oct. 09. Each month I downloaded the new bill Verizon they put up in an XML format and I threw it into my database. I reduced the bill from about $6000 to $5000 in simple waste and no reduction in service - I could easily drop another $750 with minimal impact affecting only the abusers. Anyways, I noticed in April Verizon started to charge about 60% of the users with a new $1.99 for 1MB usage charge. Now I've seen this 1MB usage charge before, but it was always with one of our users that downloaded a ringtone or had access to the mobile web - it was always attached to something they did. When I called Verizon and spoke with their CSR I asked what the 1MB charge and have they changed anything because there were all these new $1.99 fees. I was told there had been no changes and when I gave them specific examples of users with these fees they said it was for this or that. I had at this point almost 6 months of data and I gave counter-examples for each explanation of what these new 1MB charges were for.

    The rep was quickly overwhelmed by my examples and they said they would escalate my case to a tier 2 technical representative. Days go by and I finally get the explanation that the 1MB was for connecting to Verizon's Mobile Web - which was total crap because it's blocked and you can't actually connect. When I asked for clarification they said it was for "trying to connect" even though it is blocked on our plan. I was not satisfied because we went from 2 explainable $1.99 1MB charges a month up to 60+ the next and so the representative requested all of my examples. Two weeks go by and I start to get complaints from our users that they can't text even though they personally pay for text plans. I found out that all of my examples were given full data blocks by the CSR. I had to call and make them reverse all their unauthorized changes but we are still up about $120 each month due to these new charges. It pisses me off to no end and I requested to personally meet with our Verizon rep but that was denied by management and I was told to just let the $120/mo go.

  • by fooslacker (961470) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @12:10PM (#32632650)
    Verizon has to figure out some way to convince Apple that is it evil enough to deserve the iPhone...I'm guessing it went down something like this.

    "I mean come on those things are cool, we want to sell them too...we can treat customers just as poorly as AT&T...watch this!!!"
  • by Torodung (31985) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @12:15PM (#32632696) Journal

    I'm being followed by about a hundred people, all wearing Verizon network [techgeist.net] uniforms, and they're all sending me text messages.

    Please block my SMS.

    THX

    --
    Toro

  • by guanxi (216397) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @01:41PM (#32633252)

    I know people gripe about every large company, but Verizon has provided very good service to us. Regarding this issue, we received 2 unsolicited premium SMS messages for $10 each. We called them, and Verizon refunded the charges and suggested blocking premium SMS (which we did).

    It was a little while ago, as a said, but I seem to remember learning that there was a legal issue involved -- either a lawsuit or FCC investigation. Also, Verizon has a FAQ that explains premium SMS well:
    http://support.vzw.com/faqs/Premium_TXT_and_MMS/faq_premium_txt_and_mms.html [vzw.com]

  • by dave562 (969951) on Sunday June 20, 2010 @09:06PM (#32636094) Journal

    And in cases such as data or premium SMS, where the occurrences may have gone months without the consumer noticing, only an initial credit can be issued.

    I'm not sure which legislative body was asleep at the switch, but AT&T does the same thing with billing mistakes. They can make mistakes in billing and charge you too much for months or even years. However when you bring up their mistake, by law they only have to credit you for the amount on the latest bill.

    The above situation is one of the many situations that reenforces my belief that the government and corporations do not only not have the consumer's best interests in mind, they also aren't concerned about being held accountable. If I'm a contractor and I defraud a customer due to a "billing error", they can take me to court and sue my ass off. Yet Verizon, AT&T (and probably other telcos that I haven't had personal experience with) can defraud people for extended periods of time, and their liability is legally limited to the last billing cycle.

To err is human -- to blame it on a computer is even more so.

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