Verizon Sucks!

Trapped in the past!

I should have known better. From where I sit, Verizon has always had something of a stench I couldn’t quite identify. There was just something about that company that rubbed me the wrong way.

Now I realize it’s because they’re a bunch of fucking assholes who don’t give two shits about their customers. And, based on my horrible, terrible, very bad experience with them (never again, never again), don’t give two shits about new customers. And I’m beginning to think all technology companies, perhaps all companies, no longer even pretend to care about their customers.

This seems just one more way we’ve seriously lost our way culturally.

I’ve been a Sprint customer since forever. Even before cell phones were a thing, I had Sprint for long-distance (remember that? remember having to pick a long-distance carrier?).

To be honest, it wasn’t a choice on my part so much as a discount offered through The Company. I just moved up the line as the technology evolved:

Yes. I am a bit of a pack rat.

I’ve had that little guy on the right for a very long time. (I’ve never been one who needed the latest and greatest. I buy a car and drive it until I’m pretty much forced to buy another one. I still think of my 2010 Ford as a “new” car. (Well, new-ish.))

But that little guy on the right is so old the battery is only good for a day (regardless of whether I use the phone or not), and it’s an analog line, although it does have text message ability (that I never used).

There is also that my old iPod classic is feeling its age, too. Again, it’s the battery not holding a charge for very long that’s the problem.

That iPod has a tiny hard drive in it, so I’ve been aware of the potential of mechanical failure. The problem is I have over 60 gigs of music, so many players (including many iPods) can’t handle the library.

Since it is an iPod, and I’m fairly heavily invested in the iTunes ecosystem (over half that 60 gigs is purchased iTunes music), I realized that about my only option was getting an iPhone.

Which I don’t really need.

Don’t much care about apps. I’ve had my iPad for over three years now, and I find I use it less and less. It’s essentially only an iBook reader, occasional web browser, YouTube video player, and weather and news.

Some of those I’m not interested in on the tiny screen of an iPhone. I don’t imagine watching videos or reading books.

All I really need is a phone and a place for my music. And having decent text messaging would be nice.

I’m not really eager to join the whole mobile device thing, but did see that not doing so was becoming a greater disadvantage.

So I bit the bullet and set off to see what Sprint could do for me.

§

Not much as it turns out.

I was hoping to find an older iPhone. I started with the iPhone 6 and 6s, but nothing in stock. Moved up through the iPhone 7 and 8, but still couldn’t find an in-stock combination of phone color and memory (mostly memory) that worked for my needs.

Several rounds with Sprint’s online chat weren’t very helpful…

I couldn’t help but remember the last time I ordered online from Sprint (back around 2005, maybe?) and what a wonderful experience that was. I ended that online session feeling really good.

I felt Sprint cared about me, and the online person was so nice and cheery and helpful. Really a top-notch sales experience. (A large part of my career involved supporting our sales forces, so I’m a bit familiar with that aspect of business.)

I’ve been a very happy Sprint customer since then. I’ve been a fan of Sprint ever since. (The value of good sales and service people.)

My experience with them this time wasn’t so positive. Not bad, exactly, but just the same mediocre shit we always deal with these days. Maybe the miasma of malaise from that evil toad squatting in the Oval Office is polluting everything and everyone.

[That an evil piece of shit like him gets any support at all from any human being on the planet says a lot to me about where our culture has gone. The next year-and-a-half will say what remains to be said about the once great USA.]

§

Sprint did finally tell me I could buy a phone from Amazon or Best Buy.

But that was worse. Amazon seems to barely have even heard of Sprint, and Best Buy didn’t have much to offer, either.

One gets the feeling  Sprint is becoming an also-ran?

Which leaves me with AT&T (no way), T-Mobile (I don’t like pink), or Verizon (which, for whatever reason, I always saw as an enemy of the public — kind of up there with Comcast in being a company you’d only deal with if you had to — as I did to get cable for many years — don’t miss them at all).

So,… [damn] I guess,… because they’re the biggest player,… Verizon?

§

The online process seemed to go okay.

I found an iPhone XR with the memory and color I wanted. Decided on a plan and submitted the order. Two-day delivery, so phone expected (last) Thursday.

I looked forward (with some minor trepidation) to joining the modern mobile device herd. If nothing else, I’d be finally able to use 2FA on various key sites (like my blog — WordPress has been pestering me about that).

Thursday, no phone.

Friday, no phone.

Saturday, you guessed it, no phone.

But I did get an email saying my order was cancelled. Didn’t say why. Just had a phone number.

Called phone number, sat on hold for several minutes, gave up and figured I’d try again Monday.

So, today, I called again and sat on hold for about five minutes.

Got a gal who… had awful diction and a sullen voice and attitude. From the moment she answered the phone. I had to ask her many times to repeat what she was saying until I could understand it.

And she was so unpleasant!

(Experiences like this, which are all too common, are exactly why I hate having to do this at all. It always ends up making me hate people.)

§

I thought maybe there was a problem with the credit card (big online order shocked them), or maybe with transferring my old number from Sprint (which, fine, don’t care, hardly ever used it anyway).

Turned out it was something about identification. (Mine.)

Now, they had all my info, my name, my SS#, my address, my CC number…

I confirmed that and still they wanted more.

Apparently I was supposed to photograph my ID and email it to them.

WTF?

At that point I was so frustrated with that call-taker, and so frustrated with Verizon, I just let them cancel the order and gave up.

§

At this point, I’m feeling utterly defeated by technology businesses.

A couple weeks ago I finally switched website hosting providers for my personal website. I’ve always been a bit unhappy with Network Solutions, and now that I’m with InMotion, I realize I was with a shitty company for all those years. The new guys are way better (free https, for one thing).

So that was good, but I haven’t managed to wait on hold long enough to tell NS to cancel my hosting package. And they’ll only do it with a phone call. I may just give up on that, too, and let the contract expire in 2020. Wouldn’t be all that much of a refund, anyway (assuming they even give me one). My time and not being aggravated is worth more to me.

Anyway, maybe I’ll give Sprint another try. I’m not sure I got all the way up to an iPhone XR with them. Maybe they’ll have one?

§

Is it just me, or has customer service gotten worse in the last decade or so? (Or maybe just since we have an evil POTUS?)

Lately, I’ve noticed, a lot, the behaviors of Google, Apple, and Microsoft. I’ve been noticing, in particular, the disregard they seem to have for users.

They’re convinced we need them and can’t leave them. Given the way most people are chained to their mobile device, I’m not sure they’re wrong.

§

This weekend I enjoyed the Amazon Prime adaptation of Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The book is one of my all-time favorites, and the production was, I thought, outstanding.

They pretty much nailed it.

If you’re not read the book or seen the series (which was just released), this won’t make much sense to you, but:

After last week, all I can say is that, if I were Adam, the Earth would be a smoking cinder right now.

Stay furious, my friends.

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

10 responses to “Verizon Sucks!

  • David Davis

    I used to dread the yearly phone call to ATT to renew my phone and internet. Now I have Google fiber and you never have to call them. So there really are better business models. A lot of the problems with customer service is that companies expect their CSRs to deal with an overwhelming range of issues. Only the most experienced CSRs are up to the task.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      Oh, quite! Not that this occasion was out of the ordinary, but I’d be absolutely fine with a CSR bumping me up the line or taking a number for a callback or whatever needed to address the situation.

      I started with The Company as an FSR (Field Service Rep) and then spent many years on their National Help Desk helping other FSRs. My first or second day in the field with my trainer, he passed on the key to good service. He said, “Sometimes, for whatever reason, you can’t fix the machine. But don’t you ever walk out the door without fixing the customer.” The other thing he taught me is that it isn’t a battle between you and the customer — you’re not on separate sides. As a rep, you’re on their side (but keeping the company’s interests in mind).

      These are not ethics that seem common today. Part of the problem has always been that companies don’t always see service and support as a value add, but as a cost sink. The tendency of stockholders (and hence management) to focus on the quarterly P&L and direct returns drives that view. It takes a longer view to understand the value good service and support add.

      Or at least used to. I’m not sure people value that anymore, and don’t demand it anymore, so companies are free to skint on it.

      I seriously can’t believe the sullen attitude of the asshole who finally answered my call. That was appalling. On that account alone I’d be reluctant to ever use Verizon.

  • SelfAwarePatterns

    I have AT&T, which is actually the company that used to be named Cingular that bought the name “AT&T”. I haven’t had too bad of luck with their mobile side, but their home phone service does suck.

    I have more animosity toward my cable and home internet provider, Cox Communications. At times, they truly suck. Unfortunately, AT&T is the only notable competitor in my area, and I’ve heard their home internet service is execrable too. (Although it seems to matter which neighborhood you live in, which is maddening.)

    That being said, I’ve historically found crappy customer service to be the rule rather than the exception. As bad as Cox is, they’re not as bad as the old local cable provider we used to have years ago. And I generally found the customer service from the old phone company to be a torture system.

    Getting good customer service seems to cost, a lot. At work, the only IT vendor who gives good customer service is our ERP vendor, and that’s only because we pay them millions.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      I’ve got some friends in California who have Cox, and I’ve heard some stories. What is it about cable companies? Comcast has appeared on the “Ten Most Hated Corporations” lists many times.

      “I’ve historically found crappy customer service to be the rule rather than the exception.”

      Yeah, service and support are often seen only as cost sinks with obvious benefit. A recent trend that really annoys me is setting up a social media forum and letting customers support each other.

      And you’re right that it’s a pretty big cost sink. It takes training and expertise to do it well. Today’s margins are too small, and the pace too fast (documentation takes time!).

      The reality may be that truly good S&S has gone the way of quality craftsmanship. Not gone, just a niche market for discerning customers. (Kinda like vinyl records.)

      Heh, I just watched a Wisecrack video about how SF depicts different futures, from utopic to dystopic, and how the role we have for technology is critical — the nanny model (e.g. Wall-E) or the helpful assistant model (e.g. Star Trek).

      The video concludes it’s our choice, head-long rush into technology or measured adaptation of useful tools, and you just know how that’s gonna go. 🙂

      • SelfAwarePatterns

        My take on it is that technology will never be a beneficial as we hope, nor as a dire as we fear. I think it will likely be some mix between Star Trek and Blade Runner, although if history is any guide, the parts that make us miserable likely won’t be the concerns we have today.

        The internet gives me access to more information than I would have dreamed of having as a kid. But it also leaves me having to deal with jerks on Twitter and crappy technology companies.

      • Wyrd Smythe

        The internet has also polarized society, created bubbles, and arguably got us the current POTUS. I’ve also noticed a decline in the internet’s ability to provide accurate answers due to all the “Q&A” forums that allow people to ask questions and others to guess at the answers. All that guessing has polluted what used to be a much better information resource.

        I’ve always, as you suggest, seen it pretty much as a wash, but lately I’ve begun to wonder if it hasn’t been slightly more of a curse than a blessing. All the hackers. All the scammers. All the dangers of so much personal information online. Everyone chained to their phone. Everyone heads down in their phone all the time…

        I dunno… I’m not sure it’s such a great thing anymore.

  • Philosopher Eric

    Well I’m going to bitch about AT&T like Mike did. They’ve been soaking us for $17.56 every month for years for something called “long distance service” on our home line. We never use the home phone (though it is connected up to our crappy home internet service, which my son uses to watch video and my wife sometimes for work). So I finally get irritated enough seeing this charge on the bill and try to cancel. I’ve called three times and they’re always puzzled about how to cancel it and end up routing me to their cancelation specialists. There I’ve so far always gotten an “after hours” recording. And it doesn’t say what hours they’re open.

    On Verizon, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I use them because they have the best cell network around here, and at least that’s something I use and so don’t mind paying for. I don’t actually use full computers except to pay taxes and rare occasions where they’re needed. I make this happen with an auxiliary keyboard that I’ve rigged up to attach to my cell phone.

    • Wyrd Smythe

      It’s sad, I used to have such high regard for AT&T as an early tech company. Inventor of the transistor, Unix, and several generations of telephone switching tech. As a cell service provider, they seem ranked worst of the big four by most people.

      As I said in the post, something about Verizon always rubbed me wrong. They’re definitely off my list now. I’m amazed how hard upgrading my cell phone service has turned out to be. I guess I’ll give Sprint one more try, just because I’ve been a customer so long and don’t have any service-related complaints.

      Failing that, I guess I’m down to T-Mobile, but I hate that horrid shade of pink they’ve picked for their corporate identity. [shudder] OTOH, they have become a major player.

      “I make this happen with an auxiliary keyboard that I’ve rigged up to attach to my cell phone.”

      Heh, yeah. I got a Bluetooth keyboard for my iPad, and that’s made a huge difference in usability!

  • Wyrd Smythe

    I harbored a faint hope this would go viral and Verizon would be shamed. But just one more little voice yelling at clouds in the interweb wilderness.

    (I do think we already have a kind of AGI in the form of large corporations. The SCOTUS has already ruled them “people” so the comparison is rather apt.)

  • Wyrd Smythe

    As an update, I finally dove into this again. I figured I may as well accept gracefully and go with a newer phone and whatever lease plan they had, so might as well try Sprint one more time.

    Picked out an iPhone XR with all the memory and the right color right away, so that went well. Plan seemed reasonable, although it’s a little weird to lease a phone rather than payments to buy or buying outright. I guess this makes it better to upgrade in 18 months.

    And, hey, Sprint didn’t cancel my order after delaying it two days. They confirmed the order, confirmed the shipping order, and promised the phone would be here in one day!

    Today it showed up. There were some issues getting it set up. I had to get Sprint involved twice (with really long hold times waiting for a tech guy). But after a few hours, I finally had a new iPhone (my first). The problems were more Apple’s, I think. Setup just didn’t go smoothly.

    So eat shit Verizon, you assholes. Even with issues Sprint did a way better job, and the support people were much nicer.

%d bloggers like this: