Dennis Carr (dennisthetiger) wrote in bad_service,
Dennis Carr

The telephone, it burns....

Ah, the fun of the local telcos. Only, this wasn't really the local telco. This requires some back story.

See, sometime in 1998 or 1999, a law was passed in California stating that if you wanted telephone service from another carrier than what was already incumbent to your area, you could get it. So at that time, owing to the fact that I was already in the hole with Pacific Bell to the tune of $800, we got a line with GTE Communications.

(It's a long story on the $800 phone bill - involves a roommate with a love interest in Canada and me without a job. The bill has since been dealt with.)

I loved 'em. These guys were great, only they didn't offer voice mail, which kinda sucked. My only gripe about them was that they took a whole month to move the line over when I moved, owing to the fact that they, as the leased line, had to go through a bunch of administrivia. But that's another story for another day.

Sometime in 2000 completed a merger between GTE, Bell Atlantic, and I think one other telco to form this company called Verizon. As a parting gesture, GTE sent me a compact disk with a handful of songs about the telephone. Telephone Line by ELO, Jenny (867-5309) by Tommy Tutone, that sort of thing.

This is where the fun ended.

Anyway, owing to an error in my own accounting, a check to Verizon had been returned for non-sufficient funds in August of 2000. OK, no problem, I thought, I'll make it up. Call them, tell them what happened, and inform them that I'm sending a money order straight away. And all was good, I thought.

No it wasn't. I got a letter from them informing me that a check had been returned, and that I had until 15Sep2000 to make payment arrangements, pay it off, or face disconnection. So I call them to make arrangements.

The person on the phone tells me that I can't make arrangements. So it starts sounding like this, being mindful that this happened about five years ago:

Me: But the letter says that I can.
Agent: It's not supposed to. I need to see that letter.

(this last part goes over a few times)

Me: Look, can I talk to a supervisor?
Agent: No, you can't, but I can take a phone number and they can call you tomorrow.
Me: (thinks a moment, being mindful of what happens when people do this - typically, they don't call back) OK. I'm done asking, now I'm telling. Get me a supervisor.
Agent: Sir, I can't do that, you need to leave a phone number and they will call you back.
Me: Not in my own experience. Get me a supervisor or I will involve the California Public Utilities Commission.
Agent: (hesitates, and...) hold on. (places me on hold for a minute, and then...) Sir, it's near closing time, we have a lot of paperwork to do--
Me: (with a somewhat raised voice to the lower brink of yelling - and yes, I did cut him off, thankyouverymuch) Get me your supervisor, or I will involve the California Public--
Agent: (cutting me off this time) Just a moment sir. *hold*

I held for a moment, managed to get with a supervisor who was obviously upset that I interrupted her, got things straightened out.

One month later, I moved house.

I won't do business with Verizon any longer if I can help it. I have this problem with doing business with companies where I have to threaten to bring the regulatory agency into the fray or otherwise commit legal action against - granted I was irresponsible for sending a check that turned out to be bogus (even though I made an effort to straighten it out), but they had the responsibility for keeping their story straight.


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