I just got an iPhone 3G on Friday. It’s cool. But it meant that my major task this weekend was this. I was successful.
I talked to a total of five people with Verizon: Jay answered my phone call initially, eventually escalating to Josh, who had to get someone to call me back later. Both of them were nice enough. Alfredo was the name of the guy who called me back and he was not nice. I’m not sure if he was actually a supervisor over Josh or just a peer, but he would not listen to what I was saying and just kept repeating the same thing over and over like a little kid. He also tried to refuse to escalate my call to someone else, but when I pointed out that I could just call back again and get someone else he agreed to pass it up the line. Since my conversation with him was so terrible, I called back a bit later and spoke to a woman (her name started with an M, but I didn’t really get it) who let me know that he had set it up so that they would call me back, which was enough for me as the only reason I called was because I didn’t trust he would. I was finally helped by a nice woman whose name I never quite caught (I’ll call her Julie here), a manager at Verizon.
Interestingly, for me, their ultimate argument was different from the one presented in that video. Julie claimed that in the “Our Rights to Make Changes” paragraph, the clause allowing the customer to end the service without an early termination fee only applied if the prices of rate plans were changed. This is obviously not true, and if I’d thought of it then I would have pointed out that if that were the case, they should not be allowed to change the Federal Universal Service Charge at all, considering that that is the paragraph allowing them to change things.
She was going over the agreement with me, which I wasn’t afraid of as that is where it says I can do what I was trying to do, and we had a bit of polite back-and-forth over this, where she kept saying she understood my point of view and had to apologize that the wording in the agreement wasn’t clear. At this point she had already basically acknowledged that yes, the Federal Universal Service Charge was a fee set by Verizon, and I told her that it seemed pretty clear to me. She again said that the paragraph about “Our Rights to Make Changes” meant that I could cancel with no ETF only if they changed something like the rate plans.
Julie: I see where you’re coming from and I’m sorry it’s not clear, but that only applies if we change something like your rate plan. For example if you were on a $50 rate plan and we changed it to $80, then definitely you could cancel without an early termination fee.
Me: It says you can change “prices and any other conditions in this agreement” and this is a price set by you and it is a condition in the agreement.
Julie: Yes and I’m sorry it’s not clear, but that part means that if we change the price of your rate plan then you can cancel without an early termination fee.
Me: I really have to beg to differ, because if it meant that, it would say that.
Julie: I’d like to confer with my supervisor about this, so can you hold on for a couple of minutes?
Julie: Well I talked to him and he’s pretty much on the same page as me that that part isn’t clear, so what I’ll do is I’m going to go ahead and waive that early termination fee for you…
It was interesting how at the end she did waive my ETF without actually admitting to being wrong, but I didn’t even bother continuing with the argument anymore since it doesn’t really matter what she thinks, as long as my request was granted per the Customer Agreement.
If you are attempting this, you may have to try really hard to keep calm, as some of the reps you will speak to can be aggressively stupid about it (Alfredo) and may claim they have resolved your issue (when they haven’t) and try to refuse to forward you up the line. It’s important not to let them get away with this. Point out, like I did, that they haven’t resolved the issue, and you’d like to speak to someone who can. When they say they have resolved it and that they’re not going to do that, as Alfredo did, make sure you point out to them that they can’t actually refuse, since you can just call back and get someone else.
Also try to make it a point to write down the names of every rep you speak to and if you’re up to it maybe get their IDs before you say anything else to them as they may be less inclined to give you accurate ones later. The only one I asked for an ID for was Alfredo and I never actually used it for anything. By the time I asked for it he had already been refusing to escalate my issue, so who knows if he actually gave me an accurate one anyway (though asking for it may have helped in convincing him to let me speak to someone else). Julie seemed to have talked to him and knew who he and Josh were (which is why I wonder if he was a peer of Josh’s rather than a supervisor).
So, that’s over. Whew.
Some more things about Verizon and my reasons for doing this: I had thought my contract was finished because according to my account info on verizonwireless.com, I was eligible for a new phone upgrade with Verizon on their “New Every Two” deal. There is even a meter on your account info online which counts down the months until you can upgrade, starting at 24 and going to 0 but skipping numbers in between. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY THIS. Apparently Verizon allows you to upgrade your phone every 20 months, not 24 months (2 years), so just being eligible for an upgrade from Verizon does not mean you are out of your contract.
I was sad to discover this the day after I ordered my iPhone, and almost cancelled my order to wait it out. But I remembered that Verizon prorates their early termination fees, so I figured with only a couple months left it wouldn’t be that bad. When I called to see what my ETF would be, though, I was informed that since my contract started 1 month before they began prorating ETFs, it was still the full $175. That, in addition to being shocked to find out I was being charged $0.20 per text message (incoming OR outgoing), is what decided me on pursuing the quest to get the entire ETF waived.
Also worth noting: in many of the things I read about getting the ETF waived in this way, the people mentioned that the reps would have their service cancel immediately and would not be very amenable to setting up a delayed cancellation. For that reason, I didn’t even initiate this process until Saturday, the day after the phone number port was initiated, so that I would be sure to be able to keep my number. I think this may have helped a little to expedite the process of getting the ETF waived, since the reps know it is unlikely they will be able to keep you from cancelling when you have basically already cancelled. They weren’t very persistent with the “we can credit the difference” argument since I wasn’t actually with them anymore and even to them it probably seems like a long shot that I would go give back my new phone and come back to their service.