Six Ding Dongs and a Golden Nugget: My Troubles With Verizon

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What are the three most important aspects of providing technical support? Train your people. Train your people. Train your people. Simple. But based on my multiple experiences last week – seven to be precise – Verizon Wireless doesn’t get it. I’ve actually praised Verizon in the past for the positive, “can do” attitude of its mobile office and broadband support staff. But I guess my early experiences, probably with core staff who were involved in getting these initiatives off the ground before widespread adoption, were an aberration. The “can do” attitude remains – but now it’s coupled with “can’t do” performance that staggers the imagination.

Consider what just happened to me. My trusty, rusty, five-year old ThinkPad finally kicked the bucket. Couldn’t open Windows with a can opener. Dead as a doornail. So, I rushed online to buy my new ThinkPad, being a trackpoint devotee of the highest order, and Lenovo’s the last out there still offering precise trackpoints instead of sloppy touch pads. When it came, I discovered that I’d uncharacteristically failed to copy my broadband Outlook settings into my Verizon Outlook contact record, so I had to call Verizon to retrieve them. And call, and call, and call, and call, and call, and call I did.

Here’s where the story gets really scary. Service rep one gave me the wrong values. After inserting them over and over again without success, I hung up and called service rep two. She gave me different values, but the values that didn’t work. After she continued asking me over and over again to reenter the same values, I hung up and called service rep number three. He gave me yet another set of values, and when they didn’t work, he told me that for some reason the system was rejecting my password (how he knew it was the password not the user name is beyond me), and had me select a new password. When he said it would take 80 hours to take effect, I yelped. He came back and said a reset wouldn’t take nearly that long, and to try again in a day.

I actually waited for three days before trying to connect again, but to no avail. So I called service rep four, who informed me that 80 hours was hard and fast, no exceptions (like they wait until 79 hours, 59 minutes to throw the switch in order to fully irritate the customer). So I waited until after 80 hours and tried connecting again. Guess what? So I called service rep number five, who castigated service reps one through three for not knowing what they were doing, before she authoritatively gave me the “definitive” values. Which didn’t work. At which time I blew a gasket and demanded to talk to her supervisor, ding-dong number six, who gave me still another new set of values. Hey, guess what again? These values that didn’t work either.

Six ding-dongs. Six different sets of values. None of them worked. But this bloke had authority to go up on Verizon’s server, where he spotted something amiss. He told me he would fix it, and to connect tomorrow to verify that it worked. Like I would have trusted him?

So it’s Saturday now (this saga started on Tuesday), and I tiptoed into the office, trying not to upset these new magic values. I won’t make you guess. YOU IDIOT. I’m sorry, YOU IDIOTS. So I called rep number seven and asked for another supervisor. He made the mistake of asking me what the problem was, and his head must still be ringing, days later. But he recovered, apologized (the 151st apology I’d received), and asked me to read all the Outlook settings. He then told me that several were incorrect, and gave me new ones. I’d encountered all the new settings on previous calls, but never in this combination. So we tried, but I couldn’t connect. But he was cool and told me we’d stay on the line until I was connected (which from my perspective could have taken weeks). Then he asked something no one else had regarding the age of my Verizon Mobile Office software. When I told him that I was one of the very early Broadband users, he grunted in approval. So we went to “Control panel” and “Add/remove programs to uninstall the Venturi accelerator component of the software that’s a.) no longer necessary; and b.) KNOWN TO CORRUPT ENCRYPTED DATA ON THEIR UPGRADED BROADBAND NETWORK.

A couple of mouse clicks later, and my “Test settings” command in Outlook for the first time in 247 attempts. What a travesty. And this guy was probably a college student working weekends for beer money rather than one of Verizon’s “service unprofessionals.” Now does this whole experience stink, or what? And I wish I wasn’t writing for a “family blog” so I could say what I really think – #%^&*[email protected]$#^^&%$#@+&%?*[email protected]!!!!

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