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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 12:58 PM Thread Starter
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Verizon - Pay or Die

Verizon: incompetent training or corporate indifference? - Network World

Interesting take on this recent news item.

Verizon: incompetent training or corporate indifference?
Did Verizon actually decide to hold a man's life ransom for $20?
'Net Insider By Scott Bradner , Network World , 05/26/2009

The news story sounded awful. A Verizon operator had refused to help police find a subscriber who was missing and likely in need of medical assistance because he was behind on his bill. One of many headlines said it all: "Verizon willing to let 62-year-old man die unless cops pay $20 of his overdue bill." I have no idea what actually happened, but what interests me is that it is entirely believable that someone working for Verizon would do something like this.

It has to be hard to be a PR person for a phone company because phone companies are awfully hard to like in the best of times. The 1967 movie "President's Analyst" portrayed The Phone Company as the common enemy of all mankind. It was not much of a stretch to accept that AT&T (The Phone Company at the time in the United States) was after world domination. To many of us concerned with the future of the Internet, the picture today is not all that much different than it was in 1967.

Almost all large service companies have bad reputations when it comes to dealing with individual customers. This is in part because a few aberrant cases got blown out of proportion by press coverage, but all too often the bad reputation is very well deserved. Clearly, if anything like what has been reported in the Verizon case did happen it indicates a woeful lack of proper training on the company's part. Any reasonable training would include telling employees that health or safety concerns must take precedence over normal business practices. In this case the police asked Verizon to enable a cell phone for a few minutes, just long enough to get some location information. One would think that common sense would have been enough for the Verizon operator to do so, but where common sense is not common enough, proper training should have been.

Some companies or organizations seem to revel in having a bad reputation.

American Society of Composers, Authors & Publishers (ASCAP) is a good example. Any organization that threatens to sue the Girl Scouts for singing songs around a campfire must be doing so for the shock value and not to extort a few dollars from young marshmallow roasters. Others seem oblivious to the image they are projecting. Duracell, for example, is using the fear of child molestation to sell batteries in TV ads. Such a tactic should be counterproductive because it should cause revulsion, but Duracell does not seem to care.

The big carriers, both phone and cable TV, constantly try to see how much they can get away with when it comes to treating the customer like money-producing chattel. Because of this, it is totally believable that Verizon's corporate position would be to not help save a potentially dying man until someone coughed up $20. That is a very sad commentary on the perceived state of corporate responsibility in this industry.

The credit card companies just learned that there is a threshold beyond which even politicians who need money to get reelected will be forced to act. Now the card companies will be forced to be a little bit more honest and fair with their customers. The carriers may be nearing a similar threshold.

Disclaimer: Honesty and fairness is a good thing, even at a place like Harvard. But I know of no university opinion on their presence in the business models of carriers, so the above review is mine alone.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 01:00 PM
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Try American Airlines, a punch in the face would be more honest.
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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 01:03 PM
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I remember Ma Bell. "We don't care. We don't have to."
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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 03:11 PM
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TMobile people are polite. Creepy uber polite.

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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 04:07 PM
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Verizon is just awful. I've laughed out loud at their responses. After falling all over me to get me to upgrade to a Blackberry, I took it back the next week because it wouldn't ring when somebody called me. Phones are supposed to do that.

After being ignored like they never met me, eventually I was passed around to some chick (the expert) who finally barked at me while handing it back, "I don't know what you've done to it, I can't fix it." Wow. One week old and you can't get my phone to ring when someone calls?

I finally made it work.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 04:37 PM
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Lawl, cops should have told 'em they were the FBI and the guy was a terr'ist.
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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 04:37 PM
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Originally Posted by ThrillKill View Post
TMobile people are polite. Creepy uber polite.
I agree. I miss them. The only reason I dropped them was that it would be impossible to get good coverage in my area for a few years. They always did right by me.


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-26-2009, 07:51 PM
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AT&T sucks worse than any phone company. I had Powertel which became T-Mobile. Terrible service area, so I cancelled and went to Cingular. EXCELLENT customer service until AT&T bought them. It was a downhill shit slide from there. I couldn't wait to shed the bastards. Verizon is my current carrier. While they have their issues, in the end they were always able to rectify them to my satisfaction with the exception of their sorry internet service, which I straightway cancelled.

2005 S430 4Matic 'Morton' W220.183 • 722.671 Rest in Peace

Bells and whistles are thorns and thistles.
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