Verizon service: Goodbye to all that

More frustrations with the communications superpower

February 21, 2011|By Dan Rodricks

Readers will recall how it took an hour for me to get a representative of Verizon, the communications superpower, to do as I asked and simply disconnect my home telephone and leave me with Internet service only. Of course, Verizon Internet service turned out to be more costly by itself than in combination with a land line, but that's the Egg Roll Principle of Commerce at play: An egg roll at Happy Wok costs more by itself than it does when ordered with the lunch combo.

So, after grumbling about that, I just accepted the Verizon deal — about $40 a month for Internet service, and no more home phone. (The mail on that January column, from other Verizon customers with far more frustrating experiences, only recently stopped.)

Everything was fine for about a month, until the evening of Wednesday, Feb. 9.

That's when I arrived home to discover that my Verizon Internet service had been cut off.

"Is my bill up to date?" I asked the first of 10 Verizon representatives I would speak to over the next week.

"Yes, Mr. Rodricks, your account is shown as active," she said.

"Well, can you just click a mouse and reconnect me?"

OK, hold the laughter, everybody. Please try to understand why I asked that ridiculous question: I merely thought that a simple mistake could be easily remedied.

I don't know why Verizon had cut me off. Perhaps the company's central computer had developed an ego and felt offended that all I wanted was Internet service and no land line. Maybe an intensely loyal employee, someone with "issues," likes to mess with customers who cut back on their service. Maybe he/she had pulled the plug — like a deranged, homicidal staffer in an ICU.

Whatever had happened, surely a click of a mouse in some central office — or even one in Mumbai or Kuala Lumpur — would get me back on line in two shakes of a lamb's tail.

(Please, hold the laughter, OK? I'm trying to tell a story here.)

"We will have a technician come to your house Thursday between 1 and 4 p.m.," the Verizon rep said.

That technician never showed up. It was nearly 5 p.m. when I got another Verizon rep on my cell phone.

"Surely, the technician is just running late, right?" I asked. "When will he be here?"

"I am sorry, Mr. Rodricks, the next appointment I can make for you is Friday between 1 and 4 p.m."

So I made another appointment. And again, no technician showed, and no one called to tell me he wasn't coming.

To this point, I had been as cool as the center seed of a cucumber. But when I heard that the technician wasn't coming, I went from speaking with my inside voice to my outside voice. The Verizon representative offered to make another appointment for Monday. I hung up and thought it over.

An hour later, I placed another call to Verizon tech support. Surprisingly, this rep told me that I didn't need an appointment after all, and that Internet service could be restored with a reconnection from "the central office." There was nothing wrong at my house. A mistake had been made. The company was sorry. A sudden surge of optimism charged through me.

"OK, great," I said, "can you reconnect me tonight?"

(Please, stop chuckling, will you? I realize this was another ridiculously naïve question, but what was the harm in asking?)

"Oh, no, Mr. Rodricks, we have to submit an order to the central office to have your service restored," the rep said.

"How long will it take for me to get my service back?" I asked.

"Next Tuesday or Wednesday, sir."

You know how this turns out, don't you? Tuesday came, no Internet. I called Verizon again and warned the rep that, unless I had service by Wednesday, my relationship with her company was over. Wednesday came, and still no service, and when I called this time, the Verizon rep said I needed to contact the central office to reorder service.

Comcast, here I come. That's out of the frying pan and into the fire maybe, but I'll take my chances.

Dan Rodricks' column appears Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook. His e-mail is

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