"I didn't hear no bell..."
I sat at my desk, completely demoralized by my predicament. A supervisor at Verizon had basically told me that even though they did not have proof of a purchase, they would continue to try and collect the perceived debt that I owed them or send it to collection agencies, further wreaking havoc on my credit rating.
I strongly considered actually paying them just to make it stop. But suddenly, like a Mountain Dew Voltage at 8:00 AM, my stubborn nature kicked in. I am not sure why I thought this would help, but I proceeded to located hard copies of my credit card statements that showed that I had payed Altell in full for their service and the device. My credit card company told me that the statements would have to be sent to me (they were no longer online), but they did have a record of them.
I called the supervisor back (she was nice enough and/or required to give me her extension) and got ready for one last attempt.
Let's try this repeatedly and see if it gets better
I explained that I could send Verizon documentation that I had paid for a device in full and two months of service. Their data usage charts would also show that I only used two months of service from November 27 until January 23.
"Sir, that doesn't matter, because I have your bills right in front of me. I can see that you used more than two months of service," the supervisor replied. She agreed with me that the data usage had been from November 27 till January 23, but I also somehow owed Verizon for 3 months of service. (and the bill had somehow ballooned to over $200). Since this was obviously not making any sense to me, I asked her to explain what she had in front of her (The dates below are approximate except for the starting and ending ones; keep this in mind).
"You began service on November 27. You received your first bill on December 3. That counts as month number one. You received your next bill on December 17. You now have had two months of service."
"Let me finish, sir!" she snapped at me as I tried to interject.
"Your next bill was on January 4 and was due on January 25. This is the third month and the first month that you have not paid for. You paid for two months of service on January 23, but were missing an entire month of payment that you still owe."
I took a deep breath and tried as hard as possible not to sound condescending. "Ma'me, you are saying that from November 27 until January 23, I used three months of service?"
"Yes," she replied.
"Would you agree with me that November 27 until December 27 is 1 month?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied.
"And would you agree with me that December 27 to January 27 is 1 month?"
"Yes," she replied again.
"So November 27 till January 23 when I stopped using service and when I paid for it, is 2 months (actually a few days less), not three. Do you see the mistake here? Go ahead and read the date of activation and date that the data usage stopped back to me. It's two months. "
There was only a shocked silence on the other end of the phone.
And boom goes the dynamite
Then came what may be the oddest part of this story. After proving through simple math and knowledge of how long months are that she was wrong, the supervisor did something completely unexpected:
"No," she snapped, "I will not read the dates back to you, because you won't listen to me." Now admittedly, these had been heated exchanges, but it had definitely been a back and forth dialogue.
"I promise I won't say anything in response, just please read the start and end date for my service and confirm whether or not it is 2 months."
"No, I will not do that," she insisted.
"Please, I won't say anything else and I promise I will hang up afterwards," I pleaded. "Please just look at the dates. You have them right in front of you on your computer."
"Not anymore," she shot back. "I have closed the window and shut down the program that gives me access to your records. I will not reopen it and I am hanging up the phone."
There was also some talk of taking toys and going home
As I pleaded with her to just look at the dates, she hung up.
I had scored a victory, but a hollow one, since the bill remained. I then decided, on a whim, to call a customer service rep instead and try one more time. This lady had proven herself to either be incredibly stupid and/or more stubborn than any human being that I had ever met; maybe there was some sanity to be found in the lower ranks.
I called and got a hold of someone that instantly was much easier to talk to. I explained everything as I had before (I also included that a supervisor for his company had hung up on me when I gave her the same information). He pulled up my data usage charts and said with the first reasonable thing that I had heard during this entire fiasco:
"Well sir," he began "I'm showing that we have you down for service all the way through the month of May, 2009. What's odd is that after January 23, you never used the service again. You also have a payment credited for the two months of service that you did use, so obviously there is a mistake in here somewhere."
"Please hold for a little bit while I get this sorted out."
After a 15 minute wait, the representative came back and said that the bill was incorrect and that my account had now been put to $0 owed. I also discovered that going to the physical store to have service switched off is not always the best thing to do; they often do not make a note of it, so it is better to call. I then proceeded to lavish copious amounts of praise upon him for fixing 2 years of headaches in under half an hour. I asked if I could speak to his supervisor so that I could relay what a great job he had done.
Before the rep could start in with the false modesty routine, I reminded him that someone much higher up and with a much higher salary than him had handled the situation like a complete idiot; at the very least, he deserved some credit for succeeding where she had failed. I then got to speak with a 'quality control' representative who apologized for the supervisors behavior, called it unethical and extremely troubling, and got yet another recommendation from me for the lesser payed, yet much smarter and more resourceful customer service rep.
During the many months that this saga went on, I had some friends that advised me to just pay the fee and get it other with. There are times that it seemed like it would have made sense or at least been the least painful option. But I am glad I stuck it out, if not for the $100-$280 dollars it saved me, than for the thrill of victory over a corporate opponent.