Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Verizon vs Nick: Round 1

(photo @ dailyvista)

Many of you have probably heard me complain about the juggernaut of crappy customer service that is AT&T.  What some of you may not know is that my worst customer experience EVER involved Verizon Wireless, a service that I did not have with them, and 2 years of certified letters, notes to credit agencies, and screaming into my phone receiver.

In November of 2008, I decided to get a wireless aircard for my laptop.  I was going to be traveling some over the holidays and I wanted to be able to connect to the internet.  I was also still hopelessly addicted to World of Warcraft (and the latest expansion had just come out), but either way, I needed my interwebs and my raiding guild needed me!

Online gaming:  The best way to relax during your free time

I went across the street from my apartment to an Alltel store because 1.) They were across the street and 2.) They offered an unlimited data plan, something I definitely would need for online gaming.  To avoid any sort of contract and to be able to pay month to month, I bought the device outright.  I was told that I could come in and turn off the service or restart it at any time since I paid for the aircard itself in full.

After two months of usage, I walked into the Alltel store, paid my balance, and asked them to turn off the service, which they did.  I even went home and checked on my computer to make sure that it was not receiving service, which it was not. 

Flash forward with to 9 months later...I began getting random calls from odd area codes that I have never seen before.  I come to find out that most of the area codes are from Washington DC.  This clearly meant that the government knew about that time a few of us stuck a bunch of election signs in Jimmy's yard, and now it was time to face the music.


After a little digging, I found out that it was actually a debt collection agency...which was odd since I didn't have any outstanding debts.  I never use my credit line on my credit card (I pay it off each month), my car is paid for in full, and the last time Satan offered me a golden fiddle in exchange for my soul, I told him that I was the band director and that the orchestra was in another part of the building.

I called the company; they explained that I owed Verizon Wireless over $200 in unpaid bills.  I explained that this could not be possible since I was shackled to ATT&T, and that was that...until the calls kept coming in.  I was finally told that since Alltel had been bought by Verizon, my debt with them had transferred over.  This still didn't make any sense.  I also had never received any bills or notices from Verizon, though I definitely got my share of junk mail from them.

This makes me want to buy your product.

I eventually got a hold of someone that read back what Verizon thought was my mailing was not correct, hence never getting a notice from them, but getting calls from a bill collector.  What made all this even more frustrating was that Verizon claimed they could not access my account because it had been handed over to a debt collection agency.  The debt collection agency claimed that they only had a bill for what I owed; no data usage, no explanation, no receipt.  All that was with Verizon...who told me that they could not access any of that information because my account was with the debt collection agency.


The one nugget of information I did glean from customer service rep was that my account was (allegedly) deactivated in January (as I had done), but somehow had miraculously been reactivated a few weeks later.

I sent a certified letter to the collection agency, explaining that the charge was not valid, I had proof of purchase of the charges that actually WERE valid, no receipt or anything with my signature existed (because I never purchased or agreed to purchase the extra air time), the debt was completely invalid, and they should take off any record of this debt from my credit bureau reports (which by this point had taken a slight hit because of it).  I also sent a message to the attorney general and whined about it on reddit.

I attempted to contact Verizon about it; they listened to my phone calls, put their fingers in their years, and yelled "NOT OUR ACCOUNT ANYMORE CAN'T HELP YOU!! LA LA LA LA LA!!"

There was likely the flinging of poop in my general direction, as well.

Despite Verizon's insistence on treating me like a crazy person yelling at them on the subway, my persistence with the other factors in this entanglement worked.  I went from receiving 2-3 calls per day to not receiving any.  I had fought the law...and the law LOST!  I went about my existence free from the shackles of a phantom debt and annoying debt collection calls (which had made me feel like one of those people on debt consolidation commercials that show up on afternoon television) for a few wonderful months.

Then one day, I opened my mail and found a letter from a new debt collection agency.  It was for the same phantom Verizon bill.  So began the next round...

Next Up: Nick vs. Verizon: Round 2