As I've mentioned before, my Gmail address gets all sorts of weird misdirected email from people who are way too stupid to know their own email address. Yesterday someone signed up for a My Verizon Wireless account using my email address. (In an unrelated event, my Verizon-homed Nexus 7 tablet was stolen yesterday.) The following quote is from the welcome email that I got:
This email is to confirm that a My Verizon ID has been established and can now be used to access your Verizon Wireless account online. If you did not register for online account access, please contact us immediately at (800) 922-0204.
Do not believe this paragraph-- it is a bald-faced lie.
I called last night and tried to navigate their phone tree but only got dead ends, so I tried again tonight. There was no obvious path in their phone tree for my problem but I found a likely bucket and waited on hold for a long time before I got through to customer care.
They wanted to know the phone number for the account, and when I couldn't give it to them (because it's not my account) they wanted to know if I was a customer and if so what the phone number on my account was.
"Why is that relevant?"
"We need the number so we can look up your account."
"It's not my account that's the issue. It's someone else's account, and that someone else used my email address by mistake. The address that they used is not the same one that's on MY account."
She seemed flummoxed, but eventually told me that I needed to talk to their fraud department. I got magically transferred to the fraud department's phone tree and attempted to find a bucket that fit. I eventually got through to a human, who repeated the process of trying to get the information about my account. After a bit of head-scratching he told me that I really needed to talk to customer care. "I just did. They sent me over here."
Back to customer care I went, through a phone tree, and into another hold. I eventually explained my problem to yet another human, who repeated the process of asking me for the phone number. "I don't know it. It's not my account."
"Are you a Verizon Wireless customer?"
"I am, but let's both pretend that I'm not since it will make the whole conversation easier."
She was extremely apologetic but was puzzled by what to do. "I think you need to talk to fraud."
"Please, no. I just talked to fraud and they sent me back to you."
"Oh, OK. Let me put you on hold for a few minutes while I try to figure out what we can do." She did, and came back every couple of minutes to check on me and update me with progress or lack thereof. At one point, though, I found myself being transferred without any warning. I recognized this phone tree-- I was in the fraud department again.
We repeated the process while I politely explained to them that I'd been trying to deal with this for well over an hour and the only progress I'd made was learning what it felt like to be a ping pong ball. He apologized profusely, only twice tried to get me to give him my account information even though I explained that it wasn't relevant, and then transferred me back to customer care.
Customer care dropped my call. I called back. "How are you today?"
"I'm frustrated. I'm now approaching two hours of trying to get this sorted out, but nobody seems to be able to help me."
"I'm terribly sorry. Let me see what I can do to help you with your problem. Are you a Verizon customer?"
"I am, but if we can't get it sorted out then tomorrow I won't be a customer anymore." She was very nice, and put me on hold several times so that she could get help from her supervisors. At one point she came back and suggested that it was phishing mail. "It's not phishing mail. I'm highly proficient in recognizing email fraud, and this is genuine mail from Verizon."
"It's not trying to get your personal information?"
"No, not at all."
She went back to the drawing board, and suggested that I just mark the mail as spam so that I don't see it in in the future. "The problem that I have is not that I'm getting email-- it's that my address is associated with another customer's account."
"I understand. Let me put you on hold again."
At this point I've heard more than enough about the new iPhone 6 but I'm still learning about it on a 60-second loop. I've passed the two hour mark.
And then suddenly, another voice answers the phone. "Hello! I understand that you're having signal problems?"
"Well, no, that's not my issue at all." I have now apparently wound up in tech support, and he thinks I'm someone totally different. I explain my current frustration and two-hour hell as politely as I can, and even though it's not his department he does a credible job of helping me sort it out. I learn that his name is Aaron, he's in Boise, and he started out in customer care so he knows their processes well.
"Is there really nobody in your entire company who can look up an account by email address?"
"Nobody in support can do it. We don't have that option." He does, however, continue digging through his phone lists looking for a department that might have the right superpowers.
"Is there nothing I can do? Sacrifice a goat? Hire a skywriter? Write an angry letter to the CEO? Organize a protest?"
He eventually finds a fax number and at my request a snail mail address for the correspondence team, and suggests that they will have the right superpowers for sorting this out. I decide that two and a half hours on the phone is enough for one night, and that no matter how hard I pound my head against the wall I won't get a better result.
And then I realize I still need to call the prepaid customer care line about my stolen tablet, and wonder if jumping out the window might be more fun.
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