Saturday, June 24, 2006

Betrayed by Customer Service

Yesterday, I received my first ever correspondence from a collection agency. The whole thing happened because of the move to Chicago. I closed our landline account and gave the phone company a friend's address in the Chicago. The friend only gave me one piece of mail: the invite to my 10th year high school reunion.

When the fiancee and I moved into our current apartment, I switched my mailing address at the USPS a week or two later.

Some fault probably does lie with me. I never got back in touch with the phone company to see why I didn't get a bill. After all, they said that they would send me a bill, which I never received. The obvious reason that I resolved after talking with the phone company: they sent it to the friend that never gave me my mail except for one piece that doesn't mean much to me.

Despite the lapse on my side of things, though, I feel really betrayed. I had good standing with this phone company, generally always paying my bills on time. Maybe I paid a day late or so every once in awhile. I even paid well ahead of time when I moved into one place. Once, I even payed for a month and half or so of service that I could never use because of some wiring problems in the building.

They wouldn't even, in that case, help me to communicate with other people in that apartment building to arrange installation of new wires and fix them. That whole situation really miffed me, especially since I stayed home for work and used a personal day for it.

I guess that's one thing about utility companies, except for maybe cable companies, that annoy me. They only come on weekdays. I'm sorry, but a lot of people work in the world and can't spare the weekdays to let you in and watch that you don't steal stuff. With that kind of hands on stuff that requires the presence of a resident, I think they should use a little something called courtesy.

So, anyway, after about a month and a half of not hearing from the phone company, I get this invoice from a collection agency. I even had forgotten that the whole situation existed because the phone company said they would send me a bill, and they wouldn't let me pay online since the "account had been closed." Since the phone company for my landline also did my cell phone, I actually thought it was for my cell phone. Either which way, I thought it was all a mistake.

I call the collection agency. They tell me the situation, as they know it. I get really angry and miffed, tell him that the account was closed, I never received any such bill, etc. etc. to the point where the phone called ended with me refusing to pay the bill.

So I decided to call the phone company. They told me that they sent the bill to the address I gave them, which was one the friend's place. I asked them why I couldn't have paid online or why didn't they e-mail me, since they had my e-mail from the online pay service they provide. The customer service person there tells me that it's not their policy to send e-mail about the final bill nor to allow people to pay their final bill online.

Point blank: I think they have a stupid policy there, discontinuing e-mail contact and not allowing final bill pays online because that's just how things are done. Maybe it makes things easier for them, but it makes things really difficult for the consumer.

On top of the inconvenience, I feel betrayed. As I said before, I believe I had a good standing with this company. I have good standing credit-wise, in general, and I'm really annoyed that something stupid like this will affect my credit score.

Nonetheless, I had a very good standing with this company and even provided them with many ways to contact me, like my e-mail, which could have been used to warn me of the situation rather than let a collection agency get involved. The least they could have done is once they've seen that the collection agency has found a new address for me or something like that, contact me before the collection agency, realize that the whole thing was an honest mistake, not something like I'm trying to avoid paying a debt dishonestly. If the phone company had contacted me, I would have just said something like, "Oh, I never received that bill."

They would tell me that the address they found as current was different than the one I gave them.

Then I tell them, "Oh, that's because I moved a lot in that time. The fiancee and I didn't have a place secured right away, so we had our mail sent to a friend's. Unfortunately, I hadn't heard from that friend since we got here. See -- she takes care of her 5 year old twins, keeps the house nice and clean -- at least, as best she can -- then also helps her husband run a psychiatric practice. Someone that busy, can't you understand how having to take care of someone's mail could be trouble.

"I'll just write up that check and send it to you. I couldn't pay you with my credit card over the phone or anything, could I? No? Well, then I'll just write the check and send it to you. It won't be a problem at all. This has just been a hectic month or so, with the move across country and all. . ."

After which they can say something like, "Thank you, sir. With your history with us and seeing that you had just disconnected your service at the end of the month, we figured it was just all a big mixup like this. Thank you for your understanding. We look forward to getting that check."

But, of course, things didn't work out like that. See, we live in this huge world with 6 billion people in it with these big phone companies that buy out other companies that have tons of customers. They just pile up and pile up and pile up. One customer or even a few doesn't really matter when they have so many customers. They can just set up a hierarchy and when things don't fit into the hierarchy, they can just send the problem to someone else then report it to the credit score company (or how I like to call it, the trust score company). Then they don't have to deal with the problem.

I think that's just stupid, bad customer service. Hopefully no apartment building in the future will force me to use that company. And even though they provide some really good cell phone coverage, I don't want to ever use their cell service.

Verizon treated me like crap once, kind of like "friends" in the past who just disappear and don't have the courtesy to stay in touch and keep up a good friendship. I'm not going to go back to them unless they give me damn good reason and show me that they have improved their customer courtesy service.

You get a wag of the finger, Verizon. Quite lame of you, quite lame.


Binkie said...

Jesse, write a letter to the President of Verizon. Be articulate, brief and to the point. No extraneous information. That's the only way to let Verizon know how they don't personalize customer service. Yes, you are not a current customer, but keeping a previous customer happy is just as important as keeping a current customer happy. A previous customer could return some day... If all their previous customers vow never to return, someday they may not have any customers.

Shaw Israel Izikson said...

Verizon sux - to them, you're not even a customer number. just a spec'o'dust

The_Lex said...

Thanks for the tip, Binkie.

I've added it to my task list.

Hopefully I don't take too long to reach the task and lose interest when I do.