Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Where has the service gone?

Considering that the United States is supposed to be known as a service country, it has some of the worst customer service when it comes to telecommunications companies. Granted, when I was in China, the customer service was not great either with China Telecom. Maybe telecommunicaton companies all over the world have horrible service since they know users only have a couple of choices. Its more of choosing the less of all evils I suppose.

I purchased a Verizon cellphone that was to be of global use. When I received it, I popped in my China Mobile simcard and the phone kept complaining. I called Verizon and the customer service representative said that in order for the feature to work, it would need to be active with Verizon for 60 days. I told them, where in the world did it say this on the website. She said in a condescending tone that if I called an agent, she would have told you. I replied, "that is a very specific question to ask and I doubt that an agent would readily even know that or even provide me with that information without asking." She basically said there is nothing she could do even when I asked to be transferred to her supervisor.

Essentially, a rule is a rule. It really didn't matter that we've been using Verizon at home for the past 10 years (more on this story later). In response, I said, well I'm going to return the phone then since I have 30 days. Her attitude was of indifference and she said, you can send it back in the box you received it in. I sent an email to them hoping that they would change their stance and unlock it for me but I got the same response. I even got a nice voice message from a representative saying that its written in the customer agreement. However, I looked and it is of course ambiguous language that basically allows them to do whatever they want. Fine print: we reserve the right to do what we want.

Fast forward to the day I am going to cancel the phone and the customer service representative says she is surprised because we could have asked the credit department to unlock the phone for you after doing a credit check. I already had enough of their shannanigans so I just cancelled the phone on the spot and mailed the phone back. A couple of days later, the loyalty department calls me to ask why I cancelled. Of course she is deeply sorry and that is probably embedded into their scripts on every other line. But she did offer free or discounted phones and I replied, isn't that what you can find on the website? Sensing that I was not too happy, I think she pulled out her final card and said we can also give you three months of service free.

Of course I couldn't make the decision right there on the spot, but its nice to know I can get three free months of service from Verizon now. This all could have been avoided if they just simply treated me nicely on customer service and unlocked my phone. Honestly, I do not understand the issue since I was already going to pay for Verizon service. Now they may either be out $300 due to free service or potentially 24 months of service that I could have been paying for.

It seems that the departments at Verizon are silo-ed and just work as different companies. This is not a surprise to me as I've gone to many different companies to see their operations and it really amazes me that many are still in business. For instance, the company will pay several millions of dollars and then find that a department pays a good chunk of change to undo what was originally done. Sprint Evo 4g

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