Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Verizon Wireless seems to have no control over their own billing system...

Another blog entry about Verizon. This is not a happy one.

A while back, two of our four lines got a text message that basically informed them that they were enrolled in some monthly something or other. Something that we did not sign up for, or opt in to. We replied to the message with "stop", as was instructed by the text, on both phones. In fact, the message even stipulated that if we replied with "stop", we wouldn't be charged at all. I wasn't very optimistic about that.

Both lines got charged $9.99 on the next Verizon Wireless bill. The charge was labeled simply "Premium Messaging".

Upon calling Verizon, I was informed that the company that was charging from was named Vial and that we were still "signed up" for whatever it was. He gave me the numbers to text to get them to stop charging us. He claimed he could not stop them from charging us through Verizon's billing system, which is absolutely insane. He even tried to not credit us for what had already been charged. I had to ask for a supervisor, which magically gave him the ability to give us that credit "as a one time courtesy".

How asinine. It's a courtesy for them to not charge us for something we don't want and didn't sign up for?

The customer service rep claimed that they could put a block on our account that would prevent us from using our phone to sign up for new "premium messaging" services, but that anything signed up for online would still go through. That's right, even with it being explicitly stated that I did NOT want ANY other charges on the account...Verizon would still happily accept additional charges to the account.

The supervisor that I spoke with later denied that, and said that it if the block was instated, new services could not go through. Honestly, though, the supervisor was rather belligerent, and I very much got the feeling that he didn't know what he was talking about. Considering he was saying something completely opposite of what his rep had already said, one of them obviously was either lying or ignorant. Considering Verizon already accepted the charge from a third party without having any proof that we had signed up for it in the first place, I'm pretty sure they'll accept it again. After all, their viewpoint was that they had already been charged by the third party company, so now we had to pay them.

When I asked to speak to a supervisor again, he kept saying that I had to send the "stop" message (again) or he couldn't help me, regardless of the fact that I told him that we'd already done that. In fact, pretty sure he could look up for himself that we had texted that exact same number AFTER we were supposedly signed up. When I told the supervisor that I didn't even have access to one of the phones, he told me that he was going to notate my account that I wasn't letting him help me. That's right...the Verizon supervisor basically threatened the freaking customer! A ridiculous threat, of course, but really? How unreasonable of me to not have all four cell phones on my person at all times, right?

I asked for his supervisor, and was informed that there was no such thing. He was as high as it got "on the floor". I've worked in a call center. I know damn good and well what that means. He didn't want to transfer me, or give me an extension or voice mail, because that's how he's graded.

Now, the resolution, according to the supervisor, since we sent the "stop" text, if they charged us again, they would remove the charge. Somehow I doubt it will be so simple.

All I want is for Verizon to, you know, not charge me for things that I don't sign up for. Apparently, this is out of the realm of their control. Their own billing system, that is.

Which means it's up to me, the customer, to make sure that anything anyone ever puts my phone number in to is attached to a company with a phone number that I can then call and cancel with. Huh? How the hell can I control who puts my number in what?

Sure, I can control who I give my number to, but most of the time, it's not exactly malicious thinking that starts these things. Even the initial rep was quick to admit that anyone can put in anyone's phone number without reading the fine print (or maybe they did, why should they care, they're not paying) and sign them up for a monthly charge. He related a story where his friend signed him up for a joke a day service, giving him a monthly charge.

Of course, the supervisor was very quick to say that this couldn't happen. Multiple times he said we had to have "opted in" to the service in order to be charged. Right.

So, if you know someone that you don't like, who has a Verizon phone, start signing them up for everything that might charge them! Why not? Verizon will charge them anyway, and they can't even unsubscribe unless they can figure out how to get in touch with the company that you signed them up for, AND that company actually unsubscribes them. Which, really, why would they? They probably know that Verizon will just keep on charging.

Imagine this happening in any other industry. A credit card company adding a charge to your account because an insurer assumed you would want insurance. How about a car loan? Why not add life insurance to your car loan a few years in because the sales guy figured you would probably want it? No one need bother the customer, except when it comes time to pay, of course.

If this charge reappears, I plan to appeal to every channel that I can. The BBB, the FCC, the FTC, as well as The Consumerist and any other place that I can complain. I have nothing but time on my hands, and this is absolutely insane.

Verizon needs a way to stop any third parties from adding anything to my bill. Period. It's their billing system, they expect me to pay them, so it's their problem. I understand if people want things added to their phone bill for convenience sake, but expecting me to pay for something that someone else signed me up for is ridiculous, especially if I have already specified that I DO NOT WANT additional charges on my account.

Edit: If you're curious, the company that decided to use Verizon to force me to pay them some money is called "My Mobile Love". The code is 34095. I looked it up on http://www.uscshortcode.com.

1 comment:

  1. That is ripping people off, short and simple and getting away with it is absurd. Didnt we go thru this with the phone, gas, and electric companies several decades ago? Which why the gov't had to step in and regulate them?
    But it is a nice addition to 1001 ways to make someones life miserable.