My mother recently passed away, and we are starting — a few weeks later — to start to dig out from the more humdrum aspects of that, such as switching the name on certain bills. Now, my mother and father have lived with me for over 20 years, and we pay everything out of a shared bank account that we all contribute to. But my wife, Sarah, is taking over much of the bill paying, so she recently tried to switch the name on the account to hers instead of my dad’s.
And that’s the beginning of a long tale.
Apparently, Verizon wants to treat a situation like this as a new account. Sarah said, more or less, Ok, but it’s the same folks, the same address, same service. Unbeknownst to her, the person on the phone cancelled the old account, created a new one, and pressed various buttons. Sarah was told the switchover would be on 29 March, but nothing else: no warning of what was coming.
Then last Friday, a box arrived with instructions on how to pack up our gear and mail it to Verizon. Sarah planned to call them this morning to find out what was going on. However, when we woke up this morning, the internet, TV, and landline to the house were all down. I found a message on the TV with a number to call and a code. Sarah called, and we fell into the shadow of Verizon.
The first person handed Sarah off to someone in charge of angry customers. He told us that there was nothing he or Verizon could do. Yes, we would have to ship back all our gear: including the programmed DVR that my 85-year-old Dad uses, other cable boxes and our router. Yes, someone would arrive in the next day (or so) with exactly the same gear, which would be reconfigured to work. Of course this would mean reprogramming the DVR, learning new devices, getting a new password for a new router and so on.
Sarah was handed off to someone to actually schedule the onsite installation, etc. Sarah pointed out that we hadn’t been notified, and the scheduler pointed out that someone might have called the landline, which only my Dad uses: and he doesn’t use the voicemail.
This guy also suggested that the technician might be able to simply note down all the serial numbers of the existing machinery, but he couldn’t be sure if that was allowed.
I started twittering, and sending a series of message to @verizon, @verizonsupport, and any other verizon twitter account I could find.
About an hour later, I got a very nice Twitter response from someone called Marcus, who then called me up, and proceded to back out of the mess. He was able to reset the Internet, the TV, and the phone from his desk (although I did have to open the phone box and test two ports with a phone, but that was all). I encountered some weird bug with my Mac connecting to the wifi, but that turned out to be my Mac, not related to Verizon, and I straightened it out anyway.
Apparently, we are going to be getting the bills in Sarah’s name, without changing the gear, or any other ridiculous disruption.
So why is it that the initial person Sarah talked to a few weeks ago didn’t process her order that way? Why did we ‘have to’ get a new account? Presumably that clerk is compensated for closing new accounts. Someone at Verizon should track her down and have a short discussion about fooling with people’s time like it has no value.
And the first two people we talked to via the old school approach of calling customer support on the phone basically told us that it was too bad, and obviously stupid, but there was just no going back, no way to fix this except by going ahead with swapping the gear. But somehow Marcus — the new Verizon customer support contact via Twitter — was able to do what the other folks said was impossible, against the rules, immutable.
So, one of these things has to be true:
- There are processes in Verizon — like backing out of the account change that Marcus was able to accomplish — that other tech support people don’t know about, aren’t allowed to use, or are too lazy to perform.
- There is a super sort of tech support that we managed to find through Twittering, either because the personnel there have more authority or better knowledge, or else we got super service because I have 11,000 followers on Twitter, or because my mother recently died.
Also, I have learned that when people say ‘there is no way to do that’ it may not be true, especially when the thing that can’t be done is obvious and saves everyone time and money.
The lesson for Verizon to learn is about stupidity and intelligence. Don’t make your processes stupid. And hire more people like Marcus, who was obviously intelligent and well-trained, and knew how to do the thing everyone else said couldn’t be done, and then did it.