And the troubles began.
Like many working folks, my husband and I always have trouble scheduling appointments for installations and repairs. Because it's such a hassle to get them scheduled, I always double and triple-check dates and times to make 100% sure everything's right. Unlike a lot of companies that are more understanding of difficult schedules, Verizon refuses to send any technicians out after 5pm. Fine - we arrange a day that works for us, and I sit around waiting. And waiting.
I had a bad feeling about halfway through our schedule four-hour time block, and called Verizon to confirm the appointment. What's that? Some inexplicable problem occurred on their end, we don't have an appointment, and now we have to wait until next week? FANTASTIC. Whatever. New appointment, blah blah blah, everything works out.
Fast forward to our first bill, which is around $40/month with all the added taxes and fees that aren't assessed on digital phone lines. We weren't expecting such a dramatic price difference. But hey, that's not really Verizon's fault, so whatever. We're still getting a pretty good deal, and hey, our phones will work in a power outage!
Fast forward to now. Our DirecTV, which displays Caller ID information on the screen when a call comes in, keeps flashing "incoming call - contact your phone provider to sign up for Caller ID." We have Caller ID. Besides which, the phone isn't ringing. Clearly something has gone wonky with our phone lines. My husband checks the phone - no dial tone, just static.
I call up Verizon and get stuck in a recursive loop of recordings, which informs me that it can't determine the problem, but it will happily send a technician to check it out. Oh, except the problem better be their problem, because if it's anything inside the apartment, there will be a $91 fee just for the visit. And an extra $50 for each 30 minutes of the technician's time.
None too happy with this development, I hang up and try again, this time managing to get through to a human being who runs a test and informs me she can't determine the source of the problem either. Without giving me a chance to respond, she monotones "a technician will be there tomorrow between 8 and 12. There will be a $91 fee if it's not a problem on our end."
Me: Hold on. We're not available tomorrow. And I'm not willing to pay a $91 fee -
Her: (snottiest tone EVER) That's why I told you to try unplugging all of the phones and leaving them unplugged for ten minutes.
Me: ...I did that. But I don't want to go into this appointment blindly without knowing if I'm going to be charged several hundred dollars. What constitutes "our problem" vs. "your problem?"
Her: If it's anything inside the apartment, it's your responsibility. Phones, internal wiring, blah blah blah.
Me: Is there any way for me to determine if the problem's with my internal wiring?
Her: Are you using the master jack?
Me: ....the what?
Her: The master jack is a phone jack that looks different from the others. It goes to the outside. It usually has something that comes off on the front, and you can plug into the inside. It's usually near a door or in a closet.
So I tell her I'll call back, and go looking. I find a big ol' jack with a screw-off plate by our front door, which does in fact look different from all the others. There's nothing inside to plug into, but I try plugging in to the jack anyway. I'm using a corded phone, and not only do I get no dial tone, the phone's not even getting the power it needs to work. So I call back, confident that I won't be charged a $91 fee. This new person informs me that I have three choices for technician time blocks:
1. Saturday, any time between 8 and 5. Can't narrow it down any further.
2. Sunday, any time between 8 and 5. Also can't narrow it down any further.
3. Weekdays from 8-12 or 1-5.
None of these times works for me in the immediate future, so I again hang up and have a discussion with my husband. We shuffle our schedules around. I call back and decide to confirm, before making the appointment, that the jack I found was the master jack. Luckily, the third time is a charm and I've reached a very nice and helpful person for the first time. She informs me that the jack I'm talking about doesn't sound like a master jack at all, and further describes some attributes that don't sound like any phone jack I've ever seen in my life, let alone in this apartment. The rep runs another test, and says it still can't determine where the problem is. She reiterates that if it's inside my apartment - even if it's some wiring problem I'd have no way of knowing about or fixing - they consider it "my responsibility" and there will be a charge. The only way to make 100% sure it's an outside wiring problem would be to find this mysterious master jack and test it out myself.
This self-troubleshooting thing clearly isn't working, but I'll be damned if I'm paying someone hundreds of dollars to fix something just because it's "my responsibility." I inform the rep that if they're going to potentially assess this fee, then I'm going to potentially switch back to Time Warner digital phone - which may have had its problems, but they never assessed any fee to have a technician visit, and they also had no problem sending someone out after 5. She says she understands.
Defeated, I call up Time Warner and ask them how much it would cost to switch. They'd be willing to set us up with an introductory rate, which will end up costing us half as much as Verizon. Unfortunately, getting our old number released back will take a few weeks - we'd be potentially without phone service until March 9th. (But getting a new number wouldn't happen until the 6th anyway, due to FCC regulations and blah blah blah.)
Oh, and to get our number back? Verizon is charging a $20 fee.
I've decided to eat the $20 and get Time Warner back. Let's call it Idiot Tax for assuming that Verizon would be a good idea. Never making that mistake again!