Jan 172009

Last week I decided to order Verizon Fios. I’ve been tired of Time Warner Cable’s anti-competitive practices, their poor customer service, and their flaky appointments. In addition, Verizon Fios offers high-speed Internet for the home; I decided to order their 20 Mbps upload and 20 Mbps download package. (Compared with TWC, this is quite a different; my maximum download speed has been 10 Mbps and my maximum upload speed has been 1 Mbps.)

Signing up with Verizon should have been easy. On Monday, I went to their website, picked the correct package, chatted with the online service rep. and scheduled my installation. I confirmed with my manager that I could work from home on Friday to accommodate Verizon’s very large installation window of 8 am through 5 pm.

A few hours after signing up, I received a phone call from Verizon: they did not have the CSC code from my credit card. I know I entered my credit card information correctly, and I am not in the habit of giving out private credit card information to random incoming calls. So I let them know I would call back. When I called back, it turned out that Verizon had no record of my order at all. Apparently, when I did not give them my CSC code the order was canceled completely.

This wasn’t a huge problem, I thought and we were able to create a new order and reschedule the installation for the same date. The only minor snafus were when the Verizon representative attempted to get additional personal identifying information from me, such as my birth date and social security number. When I asked why they wanted that information, I was told it was totally unnecessary.

After the phone order was completed, I received email from Verizon confirming my order. Then, I received a phone call confirming my appointment. And finally, a few hours later, I received another phone call from the New York dispatcher’s office confirming my appointment. The next day, I also confirmed the appointment online.

Yesterday, I sat around my house trying to do work. Unfortunately, I found out that my company’s VPN solution does not play nicely with my cable modem, so I was only able to read email. Around 2 pm, I decided to check with Verizon to make sure they were still coming. And after navigating their phone tree and waiting on hold, at 2:30 pm I was told that I would get a call back within two hours.

At 4:30, my phone rang. It was Verizon telling me that my appointment had been scheduled and then canceled at 7:57 am. Needless to say, I was a big annoyed by this revelation. There was no explanation for the missed appointment, nor any guarantee of credit. (For what it’s worth, New York City has regulations where if a cable company misses an installation appointment, they must perform free installation and give one free month of service. Verizon was trying to get this provision waived for Fios.)

I scheduled another appointment for Saturday from 8 am through noon. At 12:05 pm, since no one from Verizon had shown up, I gave them a call again. I got through to a rep around 12:15 pm and was told I would get a call back by 1. At 1 pm, I called again–I was told that they were running two hours late.

And now we get to 2 pm. A Verizon tech just arrived at my apartment. He has never wired a large co-op apartment before and does not know where to put the ONT or the power supply. His current proposal is to drill a large hold in my closet wall to access the apartment power supply. At best, that would look terrible, so he is going to make a few calls to see what he should be doing.

I’m going to file complaints with New York City DoITT, my council member, and probably the FCC–this kind of service is absurd. I’m curious to see if I’m going to get anywhere near of a good resolution.

Update 2:41 pm: I’ve spoken with the technician who has come to install Fios. Like all of the people I’ve dealt with at Verizon, he is smart and enthusiastic. Unfortunately, the Verizon management has over-scheduled the techs and not given them the equipment they need. In this case, the tech was sent out without the equipment to thread the fiber from the main distribution point on my floor to my apartment. We’re waiting to see if he can get the equipment needed.

I’m not sure what’s so hard with this installation. Everyone I’ve dealt with is professional and pleasant, and it’s unfortunate that the employees seem hobbled by poor management. Verizon, you seem to have good product and good people! Why is this experience so unpleasant?

Update 4:30 pm: The technician from Verizon did not have the equipment he needed to perform the installation in my apartment. (He needed a tool to thread the fiber from the floor wire closet to my apartment.) His manager did not call him back, and he had to leave at 3:30 pm. (Verizon is not authorizing overtime.) I spoke with Verizon after he left for a bit, and I now have an appointment for February 1st. Who knows if they will be showing up. As I wrote before, I filed complaints with DoITT, the FCC, and my city council member. It will be interesting to see what kind of response I get. Hopefully, the official complaints will prompt change from the senior management of Verizon to run a tighter ship and bring some better management to their dispatcher teams. Also, note to Verizon: don’t overbook appointment slots.

Ironically, I would be a much happier customer if Verizon had proactively called me to cancel or reschedule the appointment. I know it’s a shocking idea for a phone company.

 Posted by at 1:01 pm

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