Photo (cc) by Matt McGee
Question: Last year, I ordered Internet, phone and TV service from Verizon. As part of the deal, I was promised a selection of discounts, such as “$10 off” my bill for 24 months and $10 off one bill. I have everything in writing.
The discounts never appeared on my initial bill. Every month, I called and they adjusted my charges, applying the $35 discount. But the following month, the discount didn’t show up. Finally, I received a voice message from a Verizon representative instructing me to simply deduct the discount and pay the balance of the bill.
Last night, Verizon cut off our email after sending me a notice to pay up now. It says we owe them $80.
I can’t believe Verizon will not honor a commitment without me continually hounding them. The bottom line is, Verizon should deduct $35 per month through April 2015. Your assistance in this matter will be most appreciated. — Allen Myers, West Chester, Pa.
Answer: Verizon should have honored the price it offered you when you signed up for its service.
So why didn’t it? Your written confirmation shows a range of discounts. I wondered if there might have been enough ambiguity in the offer to allow the company some wiggle room. Did it have to offer all the discounts, or just one of them?
Then again, Verizon might have made a mistake, zeroing out your discounts because of a mix-up on its end.
I agree with your interpretation. Verizon is saying it will offer $35 off through next year. But my opinion (and, unfortunately, yours) doesn’t really matter. It’s up to Verizon to make good on its offer as it interprets it.
Here’s what I find astounding: This disagreement dragged on for months. Verizon credited you $35 whenever you asked, but it finally got to the point where you owed the $80 and it terminated one of your accounts. What a circus!
It shouldn’t surprise me that a company will do the opposite of what it promises in writing. Corporations lie to their customers all the time, and even when they’re caught in the act, they keep doing it.
The time to have fixed this with Verizon was at the start of your relationship, when you saw you weren’t getting the promised discounts. It looks as if you tried to handle most of your communication by phone, but that meant there was almost no evidence of your interaction.
The phone message was of limited use in the end. You really needed an email from Verizon, either giving you a thumbs up or thumbs down on the discounts. Even if you had written instructions to pay only part of your bill, I wouldn’t have done it. Always pay the full bill. The time to negotiate a lower bill is before you pay, not afterward.
I publish a list of executive Verizon contacts on my site. They might have been helpful to you.
Bottom line? Don’t give your business to a company that keeps stringing you along with empty promises. Verizon should have either given you the discount, or you should have cut your losses.
I contacted the company on your behalf. In response, a Verizon representative called you, explaining that a change in your order voided your previous discounts. In other words, you were applying an old contract to a new agreement, according to the company. That still doesn’t explain why Verizon continued to deduct $35 from your bill every time you phoned.
A day later, you received another call from Verizon. It turns out your discount was valid after all. You’ll be receiving $35 off your bill through next year, as agreed.
Elliott’s latest book is “How to Be the World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). Email him at [email protected]
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