So, let me start by telling you about me. I have been in customer service for about twenty years across various jobs. I spent a very long period of that working in fast food across a total of three companies. I have spent the last seven-ish years working as a call center rep for Verizon. I do not kid around about the work I do. I take pride in the work I do, and I consider helping people to be my calling. I gave up working in engineering to take this path. I have actively turned down higher paying jobs to stay here. I regularly solve problems that have been shrugged off and avoided. I am that one rep in 6 that actually spent the time to call you back when they said that they would, and called back a month later to make sure that everything was still working right. I am not perfect, by a long shot, but I am dedicated to doing this job and not lazy.
That is about me. Now about the job: customer service is a terribly abusive job, if you are not aware of that, you are the problem. Neither myself, nor my supervisor gets paid well enough for the work that we have to do. So let me take a moment to fill you in a few things that we know, and you should know that we know. And while I am posting from my perspective as an employee of Verizon, I have full faith and certainty that these truths are not unique to this company, but they are just industry standards.
[pre-post edit] I needed to loop back after typing this all up and mention that the vast majority of my calls are not problematic. I love talking to all of you, and take great joy in the work that I do. When I do get a problematic call, it is almost always the situation, not the person. In my entire career, I genuinely think that I have only had a real issue with *maybe* two dozen people that called in, and two of them were actively just calling to try to be creepy and gross (more masculine sounding voice, so I get almost no perv calls). When it is problematic, its usually because you are stressed; you are afraid that its going to hurt you financially; and/or you feel like you need to exercise some sort of power to keep from being taken advantage of by a system that is designed to work for the company, not you. Please remember to work with me, not against me. If I don’t seem to get what you are saying, tell me what you hear me saying and I will not only attempt to clarify, but I will tell you what I hear you saying. (this is not a request to have you put words in my mouth, but an actual practice in negotiation, please use it in good faith). I also want to iterate again, that I am proud of the work that I do for Verizon, and though I will readily admit that it is a soulless corporation
that legally is compelled to care only about profit and is therefor, intrinsically, a blight upon the world, it is not the worst company I have worked for. With the exception of the first topic below, I genuinely believe that Verizon does more than just maintain the ethical minimum of integrity, but actually strives to be honest and forthright about what it does.
About that $35 Upgrade Fee: The Store rep did not tell you that you can “just call to get it waived.” Either that or they lied to you. Consider these scenarios.
- They lied to you because they wanted to make a sale, and that is what you needed to hear to close the deal. Store reps are quite removed from the consequences of this lie, and its one that I genuinely am willing to give you benefit of the doubt on. Please do not fall for it. If a Sales rep tells you that they can waive an upgrade fee, have them show you *on a Verizon screen* a non-editable line of text that confirms that they promised you this fee would be waived. I am genuinely sorry if this happened to you. It is terrible to find out that you have been deceived. Take it up with the store. They lied to you. And the only way to actually change that in the future is to put pressure when the lie came from, which we cannot do in Customer Care.
- The other reason that they might have lied to you is because they know your *true* name, Karen, and don’t get paid enough to deal with you. Neither does a Customer Care rep, but that isn’t their problem anymore now is it? Part of me wants to blame them for this, but I suppose it is better than chewing their leg off, like a coyote in a foot-trap. At least in this version, there is a chance you may realize that you should pay it instead of badgering someone else about it. To check if this might be your scenario, ask yourself, how many times you asked for the Upgrade Fee to be waived, implied that it was unreasonable, or mentioned how long you have been with Verizon.
- Maybe it was something adjacent to one of those two scenarios, maybe they didn’t outright lie, but said something carefully worded to let you think you got the answer that you wanted, or maybe you chose to hear more than they said. “We can’t waive your Upgrade Fee here in the store, only Customer Care can.” While that statement is moderately to completely true, it is important to remember that *can* is neither *should* nor *will*. I can waive your Upgrade, because sometimes there are system errors where folks get charged twice for a single upgrade, or they cancel the order before even being handed the device. But it was supposed to be charged, and it was correctly charged, so I’m leaving it.
- And I really hope this one isn’t the case, because even if it is, telling you will not help either of us: Maybe you are just lying right now because you know we have to assume that you are sincere. If you are lying to get a freebie, please consider that you are not just lying to Verizon, but that there is a human at the other end of the call, and you are actually making their life worse by lying, because we are penalized for applying too many credits.
About your status as a valued and long term customer:
- 2 years is not tenure, it is basically the minimum. I have seen 35+ year accounts. The records go back to the early 2000s on most accounts.
- You do not have the power to pull away 30 some phones lines over this little slight. You are not going to convince everyone you know to leave. You do not secretly have a line to directly call the CEO (or anyone else above me, for that matter).
- There is not a single cell phone company that advertises their best offers for existing customers on television. Please stop to consider what advertising is, and what is costs, and ask why we would do that. You may or may not jive with the parable of “The Prodigal Son,” or what it implies, but that is how business like to run.
- We have a team that comes up with promotions and offers. They crunch numbers and they run spreadsheet macros, and they *alone* decide who gets which offer. You cannot speak to them, in fact, I do not even know if they are human anymore, or just a self-generating algorithm. There is not a form to submit to qualify you for an offer that isn’t on the account. If it was in the past and didn’t expire, but just vanished, we have some things we can try.
- The more times you have to tell me that you are a valued long term customer, the less effort I will *want* to spend treating you like one. I will still do my job, but I am not about to bend the rules for someone who treats me like I’m too stupid to understand what you said the first three times.
- Waves of electromagnetic radiation, the tools that transmit them, and the tools that interpret them do not care. If you are having tech problems, and if it has ANYTHING to do with your time with Verizon, its that your phone is old and wearing out (though this is usually not the case, please don’t pay $1000+ to prove me wrong). There is no such thing as preferred data or signal strength for tenured customers.
About the Past Due Balance:
- Did you pay the *full amount* listed on the last printed bill prior to the due due date listed on the last printed bill? Your balance should be listed as $0 about three and a half weeks after we charge you.
- If we send you a text message warning that you might have service interruptions, please do not ignore it. That means that a soulless machine is holding your fate in its hands. If you call us, we can take it back out of that machine’s hands. If you assume that the thing you talked about yesterday is still in effect, it is not.
About the number of times you have had to call in:
- We get it, and its frustrating. A lot of our coworkers are not actually dedicated to solutions, but are just trying to get done and move to the next call. A lot of them are undertrained, or undersupported, and all of them are underpaid. They are going to mess up. It happens. But do you expect me to admit that we employ underqualified people on a recorded line? We *have* to show each other professional courtesy, even when we make our jobs harder.
- The angrier you are, the faster I am going to want off of the call myself. If you are worried and need me to be thorough, berating me is just going to increase the chance that I take the earliest valid exit from the call. And I am the one who is dedicated to this job; imagine how it works for the ones just in it for the paycheck.
- If you keep getting the same answer, why do you keep asking the same thing?
- If you keep getting a different answer, we have a surprising amount of jargon that doesn’t sound like jargon, and a fair amount of times we don’t know which thing you mean when you mix up our jargon. It’s totally fine that you don’t know the difference between suspending and disconnecting a line, and it’s okay that you probably never thought about the difference between a line, a mobile number and a physical phone. But these things overlap in interesting ways and we are only human. If a rep can explain their answer *and* what question the other answers might have been for, then you should probably trust that they understood the actual question best.
About that supervisor you want to speak to:
- Our Sups are even more overworked in the current work from home environment. It will be at least 20 minutes if not over an hour to get one on the line, and unless we offer a callback, you are not getting one. Also, while I am on that subject, if a rep starts offering a callback right away, press them a little on it, because they might just be juking you, but please, don’t harass them. A rep *should* double down on trying to solve the issue themselves when you ask for a supervisor.
- Their job is to guide and support reps. Many of them have not taken a regular days calls in over a decade.
- It is by their directive that we told you no. That is like calling your mom because the babysitter won’t let you have a bunch of candy bars and mountain dew at 8pm.
- Yes, you have had a bad experience in the past, or you need something that requires special system access. Let me request that override/exception on your behalf, its faster, and keeps the whole system going at a better pace for other customers as well.
- To be clear though, they really do not have many tasks that they can perform that we cannot, like seriously, only about 3, and all are too boring to mention. (I lied, they can access accounts without leaving automatic timestamps that they were there. While this isn’t actually significant for customers, we call it “ghosting into an account”, which I think is really interesting use of language)
About that complaint you want to lodge/file/express/whatever:
- I am not your therapist, but when this is what your call is about, I pretend to be for a little. Unless the offense came specifically from within my direct corner of company hierarchy, you are just asking me to listen to you vent. Which I am more than happy to do, but that is all I can really do.
- Complaints need to filed internally to the location of the transgression. We used to have a proper complaints department, at a mailing address. We had to close them because they had to slog through too many people whining and acting entitled to actually focus on real complaints. Thank Karen for her work in ending that department.
- I suspect you will have the most success going to community.verizon.com, but that is still a big maybe that your complaint will actually make it back to the source of the transgression
About how expensive it is:
- Yep. We do not negotiate price. It’s simply not an option. We can look for better plans, but you will be paying the sticker price for whatever plan we find.
- Verizon (to my knowledge) has NEVER claimed to be the lowest cost service out there. We do claim to be the best, but let me be VERY clear that our claim of best is based on aggregate data. That means that where you specifically live, another company may have much better service than Verizon.
That other company that says they use the exact same network:
- Yes, in 1996 a (we swear its not a) trust was signed into law that created, among other things, a loose set of rules ensured access to use any cell towers, with some technical mumbo jumbo that amounted to “reasonable rent”
- Access to the network is not the same as priority on the network. Many of you will never notice a difference in your daily use. Some of you will only ever know what it means to be second class in a given area.
- Those other companies can easily be editorialized as parasites. They can also easily be editorialized as scrappy heroes of the little guy. Neither is true. Every cell service provider I know of is a company, and they are all trying to make money off of you.
When I tell you that its not going to work that way:
- Do you really think I want to take away your free phone? No. I want to prevent you from duping yourself into losing your phone number that you’ve had since you were a teenager and still having to pay full price for the phone. Do you have *any* idea how easy it would be for me to just let you make that mistake?
- Companies are big. They have a ton of lawyers. They have teams dedicated to looking for the loopholes and making sure that we aren’t the ones with our necks in the loop when it snaps closed. If you think you found a scheme to trick Verizon into a better deal, you have not.
When you tell me how much money you make per hour and that this is costing your time:
- Since the pandemic started, we have been desperately understaffed. There is definitely something to be said about the fact that the labor force is just saying “nah” right now, but that’s not this sub-reddit. But what is pertinent here is that if you have to spend more than 20 seconds complaining about it, you are part of the problem now too.
- How much of that time was you talking?
- You know that many of us are just barely above the poverty line, right? Think about how much we care that you lost out on 2 hours of consulting fees. (side note to remind you that losing work for a phone not working is not the same complaint. That sucks, and I am sorry that happened)
- If you really make that much money, why are you getting this bent out of shape over the thing you keep arguing about? I mean, $20 is still $20, but wouldn’t it have been more worth your time to not argue when I told you the answer that you didn’t like?
When you thank me for speaking English:
- Language matters, and being able to understand and convey messages is important. There are few things more agonizing for me than the sick feeling I get when I have to ask someone to repeat themselves for the fifth time because I cannot understand what they are saying. It makes me feel like a terrible person when I have to spend so much time just understanding. And then I worry that I am overcorrecting my attempts to be accessible. I would greatly prefer if I could speak and understand everyone else’s dialect and never had to struggle.
- But mentioning it at the start of the call makes you sound a either a little racist, or really racist, so lets just skip it, mkay?
- On a related note, we have translators if you need one! Please, don’t be proud; if it will make both our lives easier, lets do it! (I personally try not to offer one unless I am struggling, because I know it can be point of concern and don’t want to be that guy form bullet point 2)
When you tell me that you can go get better service at a better price with company X:
- Why don’t you? Seriously. If the service is actually better, and cheaper, why are you still here? Companies don’t listen to how many reps take a 5 minute “cry it out for being abused” break per day, they listen to profits. Verizon will NOT change based on that complaint.
- See the above section about the fact that we cannot negotiate price, and the above point about cell towers not caring how long you’ve been with us.
- I’m serious, talk to friends who use that other carrier, get their take, dive deep. Ask them the worst parts. Ask them how often they have data issues. Compare their usage habits to yours. If you will actually be happier with another company, don’t stay with Verizon out of “loyalty,” because rest assured that loyalty to you won’t keep your phone on for another 60 days without payment.
And in closing: I am a human, so are you, and so are my coworkers. We all deserve dignity and we can all make mistakes. Please try to work with me, and believe me when I have to tell you something that you don’t want to hear. Verizon, is not human, it is a machine that exists to make money, and will only adapt to things that directly effect that goal. And your Upgrade Fee is not getting refunded.