Fora slow news day: Verizon Continues to Give Me the Shaft

Update: Verizon just called to tell me that, miraculously, they’ve finally worked out that, yes, the phone arrived, and yes, they were able to finally authorize my credit. Of course, I only got apologies for the delay and assurances that, yes, I was correct, there really was no excuse for it taking this long. *Whew*

I just sent the following Email to our local NBC affiliate. Feel free to share with whoever you like.

Perhaps for a slow news day, though I’m at my wit’s end with this. Verizon has not resolved this problem after nearly three months. To save time, here’s what I originally wrote on the matter, admittedly in some heated language, on my personal blog:

[Blog post deleted, but you can read it by visiting this page.]

That was posted on 29th October.

After that, I received a query for more information from Verizon’s Facebook page, and they assured me that they would look into the matter. They also sent yet a third round of shipping labels. Between the three mailings that were supposedly ordered, I got one plastic bag with instructions to use the label provided with my replacement phone (which had already been used, of course), and, finally, a shipping label I could use. As I was out of town for part of the beginning of November, the phone was shipped out November 10th, and received, according to USPS tracking, on November 14th. To date, Verizon has not credited me yet, they still claim that the matter is “under internal investigation”, and, while they claim to have put a hold on any collections proceedings and marked the amount as not due, I’ve received calls and texts from the financial services department at Verizon Wireless asking for payment, in order to “avoid an interruption of service”.

Here is a full transcript of messages between me and Verizon wireless on Facebook:

As requested, I’m sending a private message. The details of this are posted already, so I need not belabor them. My Verizon mobile number, so you can look at whatever you need to, is (814) 431-0962.
Oct 29

Verizon Wireless
Thanks for the message, Buddy. Yes, I can see the previous posts and I am aware of the issue regarding your iPhone. I’m very eager to review your account. However, it’s protected by a billing system password (not the same one used at My Verizon Online). Please share so I can review further. – Dion
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
Right. Hi Dion, Andrea, Jennifer, Alan, and all the ships at sea. It’s [redacted]
Oct 29

Verizon Wireless
Thanks for greeting all of us, Buddy. It’ll just me me this time around. I’m having a look at the equipment history on your account to find the replacement device that you’ve advised was issued through Apple’s inventory.

I’ve found that there was a replacement device activated on your line in November 2013. What I don’t show is the origin of the device (as being a warranty model). Does that date jibe with your records or was it at some other time? Do you happen to have any documentation from Apple left over from the exchange? – Dion
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
That’s the one, yes. It was definitely under warranty (after all, the 5S was only released in September of last year), and it was replaced under Apple’s expedited replacement. They only charged $29 for the cross shipment. This was handled over the phone with Apple’s support department, and I didn’t have AppleCare, so definitely standard warranty replacement. I don’t think I have anything from Apple on this, but if I do, it’s on another computer.
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
I could come up with a payment confirmation from Paypal, but I’m not confident I can come up with any more than that.
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
Pay dirt!
Oct 29

Verizon Wireless
Thank you for all of these details, Buddy. Just in case, what Apple Store did you visit in order to have your original device replaced? – Nicandro
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
None. There isn’t one here. I called Apple.
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan

AppleCare

Dear Clyde Brannan, Repair ID:
D108330606

We have shipped the replacement IPHONE 5S you requested. Please allow two business days for delivery.

Courier: FedEx
Tracking number (active within 24 hours): 582783491141

Shipping address:
1114 W 30TH ST
ERIE, PENNSYLVANIA 16508-1540
UNITED STATES

To protect your shipment, Apple’s courier won’t deliver your package without obtaining your signature. If you’re not present for the delivery, the courier will return the next business day.

Identification Numbers of the Original Product
Serial Number: F17LG13LFNJM
IMEI (GSM network): 357989051615436
MEID (CDMA network): 35798905161543

Identification Numbers of the Replacement Product
Serial Number: F17LF2NUFNJM
IMEI (GSM network): 357989054813012
MEID (CDMA network): 35798905481301

Please retain this email as a record that your product’s identification numbers have changed as a result of this service request.

The replacement product will come with instructions for returning the original to Apple. To avoid being charged a non-return fee, you must return the original so that Apple receives it by 2013-11-29.

Visit Repair Status to view the current details of your service request.

Regards,
The AppleCare Team

Copyright © 2013 Apple Inc. All rights reserved.
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
That was November 15, 2013.
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
Sorry. I was on a call (work, tech support, just finished). The Email from Apple should have everything you need in it?
Oct 29

Verizon Wireless
Thank you for this information, Buddy. I attempted to reach out to you to provide you these details, but you weren’t available to take my call. I will be submitting a request for escalation regarding the serial number for this device, in order to have it updated in our database. Once I receive confirmation, I will reach out to you to make sure this is all taken care of. Thank you once again. We look forward to getting this resolved for you. – Nicandro
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
Great, thank you. I’m sorry I couldn’t take your call, I was on another call myself.
Oct 29

Verizon Wireless
No worries, Buddy. I most definitely understand! The last email excerpt definitely includes all the details I will need for this. Once I hear back/have a resolution I will reach back out to you. Should hopefully be no more than Five business days. Thank you once again, Buddy. May you have a great evening. – Nicandro
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
OK, thanks. Meantime, if I ever get shipping materials, it’s going back post haste. With tracking.
Oct 29

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, that’s a great idea. We will be speaking with you soon. Have a great night. – Katie
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
Thanks Katie. And you’re #6. Have a good evening.
Oct 29

Buddy Brannan
Do you know, this is now officially beyond stupid. Apparently yesterday we received an envelope from Verizon, one presumes that this is what passes for “return shipping materials”. It included a plastic bag to put the phone in, and instructions to use the box that my new phone came in, along with the shipping label included with my new phone. This, of course, is impossible, since that shipping label went back to you when I shipped this phone back the first time and it was returned to me. With no return label. Which the replacement “shipping materials” should have included if anyone had any sense. If I was angry at Verizon Wireless’s corporate incompetence before, rest assured I’m far beyond that now.
Oct 31

Verizon Wireless
Lets clear the air, Buddy! Just to confirm, we did not include a shipping label in the return packaging? I am truly concerned as one should have been sent to you. If not, we can request for another to be shipped out. – Lena
Oct 31

Buddy Brannan
I’m not sure which batch of return shipping materials this is, as yours would be the third ordfer for them, and this was the first that was received. In the envelope was a letter, as outlined, a plastic bag, and nothing else.
As this has been ongoing for over a month, from my first return of the iPhone 5S to today, you can well understand why I am, to put it mildly, disgusted. And angry. And have zero confidence in a smooth resolution.
I believe I asked this on the phone before, but I can’t just take this phone and turn it in at a Verizon store?
Oct 31

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, we want to restore your confidence in us and resolve this equipment matter right away. You will need to ship that device back to us in the shipping materials that you were provided with. Please retain the tracking number for your records. Once the device is recieved, we will submit an escalated request to ensure that your Edge trade in is accepted. – Lasina
Oct 31

Buddy Brannan
Seriously. You gotta be kididng me. Have you in fact read this whole exchange? Have you reviewed what’s transpired to this point? You must not have if you sent an inane reply like this. Seriously. Read through the history. This response did absolutely nothing to restore any confidence.
Oct 31

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, I apologize for my confusion. After reviewing your account, I see that was a follow up placed by a previous representative to ensure that your issue is resolved. However, the notes are very vague. I’d like to take ownership of this matter and further assist you from here. Can I contact you by phone? Do you have a moment to speak with me this afternoon? – Lasina
Oct 31

Buddy Brannan
Yes, but before you do, you’d better read this, so that we’re not covering already covered ground: http://buddy.brannan.name/blog/2014/10/dear-verizon-piss-off/

[Lasina then called, we discussed the issue, she summarizes.]

Oct 31

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, thanks for taking the time to speak with me this afternoon. As we discussed, I’ve submitted a request to send you the shipping materials again. It will take 7-10 business days to reach you via U.S. Postal mail. Make sure that you retain the tracking number once you ship the device back to us. I will contact you on November 11, 2014 to follow up with you and submit that request to dissolve that equipment charge on your account.

Again, I truly apologize for these inconveniences. We take full ownership/responsibility of this matter and look forward to getting this resolved for you soon. – Lasina
Oct 31

Buddy Brannan
Thank you. I’ll be happy once this is all behind us.
Oct 31

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, no worries! I got you covered. I’ve already submitted an escalated request to accept the device once it is recieved. I will be submitting another request once I’ve verified that it’s been accepted in our warehouse. Additionally, your account has been noted to ensure that everyone on our end knows exactly what’s going on.

Please feel free to reach out to us anytime between if you have additional concerns. – Lasina
Oct 31

[No contact from Lasina on the previously agreed November 11]

Buddy Brannan
For Losana: Looks like Verizon received my phone a few days ago. I got the label before I left for a long weekend on the 6th, the phone went out on the 10th, y’all received it Friday the 14th according to the postal service.
Nov 19

Buddy Brannan
Umm. Make that last for Lasina. Oh dear. I really butchered that, sorry.
Nov 19

Verizon Wireless
Thanks for the reply and the update Buddy! Lasina is not in the office yet. Can I assume that all of your wireless concerns has been addressed now that your phone has been received? If you have any additional questions then please share as we are here to help. – Arnett
Nov 19

Buddy Brannan
Hi…No, you really can’t. It was received last time, too. Please pass on to her, she’ll understand what to do with it. Once I receive my credit properly for the returned phone, then we’ll be resolved, but not before.
Nov 19

Verizon Wireless
Understood. The issue is currently under review. We appreciate your patience. – Yosef
Nov 19

Buddy Brannan
For Lasina:
Nov 25

Buddy Brannan
Ahem. Yes. For Lasina: we have a problem. Verizon has, according to the postal service, received the iPhone 5S I shipped back on 14th November. I not only have no acknowledgement of this from Verizon, and not only does my account show a past due amount, but I just got a call from Verizon financial services requesting payment. As I have fulfilled my end of the Edge contract not once but twice, faithfully, and as requested, and Verizon has dropped the ball in processing this *several* times,, beginning with not recognizing a warranty phone replacement, I clearly do not owe the balance of the contract at around $374. Not owing this amount, I also do not intend on paying it. Moreover, any marks on my credit report will be disputed and should be removed, if indeed they such has been filed. I have fulfilled my end of these transactions in good faith and have received hassle and bother in return. While all of the actual people I’ve spoken to have been nothing if not unfailingly polite and helpful, the process has been anything but.
Nov 25

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, thank you so much for the details. I can understand your concern. We would love to check into this information for you ASAP. Do you by chance have the tracking number for the package that you sent back? If so, can you please provide that number to us. Please keep us posted. – Kevin
Nov 25

Buddy Brannan
9202090107859993927533

USPS says:
delivered
removed class name to show expected date on closed state
Expected Delivery Day: Thursday, November 13, 2014 tooltip widget/added Sept27’14Release/JR

Product & Tracking Information
Postal Product:
First-Class Mail®
Features:
Return Service

DATE & TIME
STATUS OF ITEM
LOCATION
November 14, 2014 , 5:28 am

Delivered

FORT WORTH, TX 76190
New Status Summary Panel

Your item was delivered at 5:28 am on November 14, 2014 in FORT WORTH, TX 76190.
Nov 25

Verizon Wireless
Thank you so much for those details. I did place in a ticket for our warehouse to review this information so we can get these chargers cleared for you. Your ticket number is: 183630. As soon as I hear something back I will make sure to inform you. I have reached out to our financial services department for you as well to place a hold on the account due to the investigation. – Kevin
Nov 25

Buddy Brannan
No doubt you’ve seen the previous action on this issue. Thanks.
Nov 25

Verizon Wireless
You’re welcome! We will normally hear something back with in 48 to 72 busines hours. But, with the holiday in the mix it may be a little later. Looking forward to getting this taken care of for you. – Kevin
Nov 25

Buddy Brannan
Again for Lasina: Verizon has had the iPhone 5S sent in as part of my Edge upgrade, for the second time, since November 14th. As it hasn’t come back to me a second time, I assume this means it’s in process; however, I have received no confirmation of this, and I have also not received an appropriate credit for it on my bill. Instead, I have received a request for payment of a past due amount, followed by a threat (today) of service interruption if the past due amount is not paid. I reiterate: I am not paying the amount you claim I owe on this phone upgrade, as I have fulfilled my end of the contract. Twice. You have not. This ball has been dropped more times than I care to count. This issue has gone unresolved for what is now going over two months. I get apologies. I get assurances. I get no resolution, and I get lots of hassle and inconvenience. I have been very patient. I’m through being patient. Were I as slow to resolve a problem you had with me, I can assure you that Verizon would not be nearly this patient with me, and it would demand immediate resolution. When the shoe’s on the other foot, however, I’m expected to patiently wait for your incompetent systems to work their “magic”. This needs to be resolved. Immediately.
Dec 6

[Lindsey called me, assured me that a block was again put on the amount that isn’t really past due, and I shouldn’t receive any further communications from financial services. Except I did, about five minutes later, if not less.]

Buddy Brannan
You will fix this problem immediately. Now. If you an’t, you will escalate it to someone who can. I just got a call from financial services, not five minutes after you assured me I wouldn’t get any such calls. Now, please.
Dec 6

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, I do apologize about the phone call form Financial Services. The system was not updated for the hold on the account before that call went out. We did make sure that the hold is in place going forward. Again, I apologize for any inconvenience that this may have caused. – Kevin
Dec 6

Buddy Brannan
I’ve had apologies. I’ve had assurances. I’ve had excuses. I’m done with it. The only thing I want to hear from you is that this problem has been resolved, and that my account is in good standing. That’s it. Make it so. I’m done with everything else.
Dec 6

Verizon Wireless
Buddy, thank you for speaking with me. Have a wonderful rest of your day. – Lindsey
Dec 6

Buddy Brannan
On this coming Sunday, verizon will have my second-time returned phone for one month. A week after that will mark three months of this particular nightmare’s duration. This has gone far beyond ridiculous. Let me draw you a picture. For this to be properly resolved, do I need to file a complaint with the PUC? Do I need to take it to the media? I note here that, even though it is completely irrelevant, I am fairly certain the media would just love a story of “blind mobile phone customer being jerked around by the big mobile phone company”, and, irrelevant as that detail is, the fact of my disability would likely get a lot more attention than it deserves. I can see absolutely no resaon that this problem has gone on as long as it has. This needs to be addressed today. Further payment will be held until this problem is resolved. I’m sure you can understand my position on this.
Dec 12 at 8:27am

Verizon Wireless
Hello again, Buddy. I know that you’ve really been pushed well beyond your limits on this matter. I wish I had more information to share with you, but we are still trying to resolve this matter internally. The investigation remains open at this time. – Dion
Dec 12 at 11:54am

Buddy Brannan
Please do not bother to explain the following text, just received:
To avoid interruption of your Verizon Wireless service, please click http://mobile.vzw.com/paybill to make a payment or dial #PMT from your handset.VZW FreeMsg.
Instead, escalate this issue right now.
20 minutes ago

—End—

Thanks,

What is wrong with us?!

I seem to be asking myself this question an awful lot. Really, what’s wrong with us?!

I’m put in mind of this question, again, after hearing about this story on the news this morning. Well, the little snippet on the morning top of the hour news only mentioned the case, but it was enough. Why can’t we just do the right thing, even if not doing the right thing is legal? In fact, why must there be laws forcing people to do the right thing?

Sure. I understand that what “the right thing is” isn’t always the same from one person to another. Right for whom? Right for the investors? Right for the bottom line? Right for the workers or families of workers? I guess it all depends on your values.

I guess I don’t understand why our corporations, and maybe our society in general, has the skewed values it has. Is it a byproduct of our throw away society? Things are so disposable. It’s kind of like A Brave New World. Actually, it’s really disturbing how much of that novel we’re actually seeing in our society. Think about it. Throw stuff away rather than fixing broken things. Just get a new one. (Sure, sometimes you just can’t, what with, for instance, electronics, being so miniaturized that they can’t be fixed.) Is that also how we handle people? Just throw them away, we can get new ones. They’re just parts, they’re replaceable, one’s about as good as another. Do we value each other so little? Do we value saving a penny, never mind a buck, so much that we can’t modify duties for a pregnant UPS driver? I see that UPS has announced that it’s going to implement a policy that mandates accommodating pregnant employees such as should have been done in this case, yet they maintain that their stance was still legally correct. What about morally correct? Are we so wedded to being right that we can’t unconditionally admit when we were wrong and then make things right?

I don’t suppose that this UPS driver got, or ever would get, an apology. Maybe someone sees this change in policy as an apology of sorts, but there’s really nothing worse than a conditional apology, or an apology with a defense. “I’m sorry, but I was still right” strikes me as something like that. It reminds me of this time when I had an argument with my mother. I was still living at home, though I was by then over 18. I came home late…well, I came home later than expected, at any rate. I walked in the door and I got both barrels. I was selfish. I didn’t care about anyone but myself. If I really had any consideration for anybody else’s feelings, I would have called. (It wasn’t even 10 at night, and it was a weekend!) I was pretty upset. I went back to my room. Some time later, mom came into my room, brought me a sandwich, and said, “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you pissed me off.” Nope…that didn’t help. I didn’t consider that an apology at all. Oh sure, it used the right words, or it started to anyway, but it fell short. I think you can see how.

It seems to me that we’d live in a much nicer world if we lived by these rules:

  • If you can do something for someone else, do so cheerfully. Everything we do comes back to us, good or bad.
  • If you wrong someone, apologize sincerely, completely, with feeling, and without reservation.
  • If you make a mistake, own up to it, and do what you can to make it right.
  • Say thank you, and by god, mean it.

Is that really a lot to expect?