Hey Verizon, what happened to those discounts you promised?

Shutterstock

Verizon promises Allen Myers $35 in monthly discounts on his bill, and he has it in writing. So why isn’t it honoring its agreement?

Question: Last year, I ordered Internet, phone and TV service from Verizon. As part of the deal, I was promised a selection of discounts, such as “$10 off” my bill for 24 months and $10 off one bill. I have everything in writing.

Elliott Advocacy is underwritten by Southwest Airlines. The mission of Southwest Airlines is dedication to the highest quality of Customer Service delivered with a sense of warmth, friendliness, individual pride, and Company Spirit. We are committed to provide our Employees a stable work environment with equal opportunity for learning and personal growth.

The discounts never appeared on my initial bill. Every month, I called and they adjusted my charges, applying the $35 discount. But the following month, the discount didn’t show up. Finally, I received a voice message from a Verizon representative instructing me to simply deduct the discount and pay the balance of the bill.

Last night, Verizon cut off our email after sending me a notice to pay up now. It says we owe them $80.

I can’t believe Verizon will not honor a commitment without me continually hounding them. The bottom line is, Verizon should deduct $35 per month through April 2015. Your assistance in this matter will be most appreciated.

Allen Myers, West Chester, Pa.

Answer: Verizon should have honored the price it offered you when you signed up for its service.

So why didn’t it? Your written confirmation shows a range of discounts. I wondered if there might have been enough ambiguity in the offer to allow the company some wiggle room. Did it have to offer all the discounts, or just one of them?

Then again, Verizon might have made a mistake, zeroing out your discounts because of a mix-up on its end.

I agree with your interpretation. Verizon is saying it will offer $35 off through next year. But my opinion (and, unfortunately, yours) doesn’t really matter. It’s up to Verizon to make good on its offer as it interprets it.

Here’s what I find astounding: This disagreement dragged on for months. Verizon credited you $35 whenever you asked, but it finally got to the point where you owed the $80 and it terminated one of your accounts. What a circus!

It shouldn’t surprise me that a company will do the opposite of what it promises in writing. Corporations lie to their customers all the time, and even when they’re caught in the act, they keep doing it.

The time to have fixed this with Verizon was at the start of your relationship, when you saw you weren’t getting the promised discounts. It looks as if you tried to handle most of your communication by phone, but that meant there was almost no evidence of your interaction.

The phone message was of limited use in the end. You really needed an email from Verizon, either giving you a thumbs-up or thumbs-down on the discounts. Even if you had written instructions to pay only part of your bill, I wouldn’t have done it. Always pay the full bill. The time to negotiate a lower bill is before you pay, not afterwards.

I publish a list of executive Verizon contacts on my site. They might have been helpful to you.

Bottom line? Don’t give your business to a company that keeps stringing you along with empty promises. Verizon should have either given you the discount, or you should have cut your losses.

I contacted the company on your behalf. In response, a Verizon representative called you, explaining that a change in your order voided your previous discounts. In other words, you were applying an old contract to a new agreement, according to the company. That still doesn’t explain why Verizon continued to deduct $35 from your bill every time you phoned.

A day later, you received another call from Verizon. It turns out your discount was valid after all. You’ll be receiving $35 off your bill through next year, as agreed.

Should Verizon have given Myers the discount?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...

37 thoughts on “Hey Verizon, what happened to those discounts you promised?

  1. I’m glad they got it fixed.
    One important lesson to learn from this is that people at the other end don’t always know what they are doing. A message of just “deduct off the bill and pay the remainder” is pretty risky unless you can go online and see that credit before the bill is due.

    Good to see it got fixed, good work Chris.

    1. I was told the exact same thing by Comcast for 4 months, and each month I had to call back. Long story short, they shut off my cable for “non-payment” because I had deducted the $45 they told me to deduct when I sent in payment. I ended up leaving it off and cancelling the cable I got so sick of dealing with them.

  2. There is a saying that “the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing”, and in some of the larger corporations the right hand does not know what the right hand is doing. It’s amazing that you can call a customer service line three times in a row and get three different answers to your question.

    But it should not be suprising, the call center people are rated on how fast they get you off the phone and how many calls they can process. Or how many emails they can blow through, not fixing your issue (in most not all companies).

    I’m shocked at some companies, I needed an explanation of benefits from an insurance company (could not get it online because of an issue on their end) and the person on the phone was looking at it on the computer and said it would take 15 business days to get by mail. I was floored, I said you have a computer, a printer, and I’m sure email or fax machine somewhere there and you can’t send it to me now when it’s your fault I can’t print it online?

    It’s all about promising you the world to get to that next call or email.

    But as Bill says, Chris got it done!

  3. I was right with the OP until the last part where it says: “you were applying an old contract to a new agreement, according to the company”

    Assume that’s true. Nothing seems to indicate that it’s not. So what is the complaint?

    Sure it is a symptom of a confusing contract and large bureaucratic company when something like this happens.

    And you’re right, it doesn’t explain why they continued to give the discount after the contract change. But if they undercharge you one month (or give an unwarranted discount, in this case), that does not constitute a contract to keep doing it.

    I’m glad to see the OP is still getting the discount, as some payback for the first few months of trouble and lost time. But the premise of the article — “Hey, where’s the discount you promised?” — is explained.

    1. Is there evidence of this “new” contract, or is it just some check boxes on their computer system that changed something about your service, that some rep did during a phone call to “make their numbers”. Did Verizon change its policy about access to customer support, such that the act of calling for support constituted acceptance of a new “contract” that included customer support.

        1. Who changed what?

          My Dad was “slammed” up in Noo Jork. He told ’em to go pound sand; wasn’t gonna pay. Complained to the original company and the State govt. Got it reversed. Never paid the dirtbags neither.

        2. No Verizon says there was a change in the order, what was the change? Just because Verizon says there was a change doesn’t mean there actually was a change.

    2. You’re missing a huge fact from the case. The OP is very clear in stating these promised discounts NEVER were applied even once. That would mean they somehow changed their contract before even being billed the first time? That seems highly unlikely.

      And if the contract had really changed, why would Verizon repeatedly make manual reductions to their balance? They were doing that before Christopher ever became involved so it certainly wasn’t because they feared bad press. I see no reason to take Verizon’s word over the OP’s because Verizon’s story makes absolutely no sense.

      1. We’re not exactly sure if or when the alleged change order went in. If it was from the beginning (i.e. before the first bill) then sure, that could explain it.

        1. Again, it isn’t overly likely they changed anything immediately after signing up. That’s much less likely than Verizon simply messing up, particularly given that in your scenario Verizon would still have to of messed up by repeatedly manually lowering the bill when they didn’t have to.

          The most likely scenario stems from how these deductions were being offered. Apparently, the consumer had the option of how to apply these deductions and it sounds like the deductions may not have even been consistent from one bill to the next. That creates a situation just asking for problems when it comes to the automated billing. Lots of opportunity there to miss getting the deductions applied properly which would explain why they were constantly willing to do manual corrections after the fact.

    3. Where’s the change? Look at where they say that when something changes and you accept it, you’re bound by the new contract? So, how about when they continue to give you the discount? Are they not now bound to give you the discount? It should work both ways, not just in the favor of the lying incompetent monopoly.

  4. When you have no power in a tightly controlled service or product, costumers always lose. Even if you have something in writing all it takes is some rep or front line manager or supervisor to dismiss it with any excuse at all, what are you going to do leave? Thats a $200 ETF, and you wont get a better deal across the street they all have the same business practices. Some are better than others on some days, and some days their the worst of the bunch. They also know you cant do anything about it, they likely have a contract barring punitive damages, so you could take a couple months taking them to small claims court and get a judgement, but they will just do it again or do something slightly different but costs you the same or even more.

        1. What’s a DTP? A breach of contract doesn’t carry punitives. However, the same set of facts may give rise to multiple causes of action and those other causes may include punitive damages among the remedies.

    1. I send ’em an image of the draft small claims court COA papers that I would file if they don’t behave themselves. That often does the trick.

  5. I am having the exact same issue with Verizon, only it’s a corporate discount. I have it in writing, they simply will not apply it. We had several options as far as carriers, i chose them because of the discount. Before setting up the account, i verified with 3 different Verizon reps about the discount, still nada 3 months later

    1. I had a similar issue with the educator’s discount. First they could not find my school listed so they but me under the state education dept. Wrong, so they tried a different district, I can’t prove I work for that district so again wrong. And each time they told me to wait for up to 90 days for the discount to show up. Finally I went to a different store and they got the paperwork properly processed, but still not discount. It took over 6 months and I think I finally got the discount. Don’t know for sure because it is not listed as a separate line item, just a lower base cost

  6. I’m lost. The first paragraph says it was $10 off a month, and $10 off one bill. Then later it says $35 off a month. Then he was told not to pay $35 each month, but then they say he owes $80, which is not a multiple of $35. Bottom line, if they promised him a discount, he should get it. But I don’t like taht nothign in the story adds up. Perhaps if the actual discount letter text was included, we would know what was going on.

    1. The LW said that there were a variety of discounts, which must have added up to $35 off a month total. I agree though, I would have preferred to see an itemized list of the discounts with the terms for each. As for the $80, one of the discounts mentioned was $10 off of one bill. So…(35 x 2) + 10 = $80.

    2. But it does illustrate why this would likely be a nightmare on the billing side to get applied correctly. If the customer has various options in how to take the deductions and those options can vary from bill to bill, it means the system can’t be programmed to automatically apply the discounts. Hence they end up billing the full amount every time and have to manually correct it when the customer complains.

    3. I have a Verizon Fios account with multiple discounts that show up on my monthly invoice. Even though all of the discounts expire on the two year aniversary of my contract, each is listed seperately. I had a billing problem with Verizon a few months ago. Their customer service is the worst. It took multiple phone calls and escalating through several levels of supervisors to get it resolved.

  7. One measure of a company is how well it manages exceptions, like discounts of all kinds. Do the IT people update and test the software for customer service people and for billing before a promotion starts? Do the customer service reps get thorough training and follow-up checks to ensure the reps remember the training? Are the cubicles of the reps festooned with a confusing blizzard of notices of special deals they can apply? The root cause is not the reps we reach on the phone, it is more fundamental than that.

    1. ” Are the cubicles of the reps festooned with a confusing blizzard of notices of special deals they can apply”

      I can say with near certainty: Yes!

  8. Companies like this are awful in general. I have a little war going on with Sprint on FB right now (literally, right now). Bottom line is they lied about the monthly fees when I switched to the Framily plan and I ended up paying $385 per month so we switched to T-Mobile where we pay $200 per month (includes the phones). So the monthly difference more than makes up for having to pay the remaining phone balance. When we switched, I still had a land line with Sprint. Never even turn it on to use… don’t need it. Only got it because they said to get the Navy Federal discount, I had to add a line, and the discount would basically more than cover the cost and ultimately, the benefits of getting the line (because of the added discount, which they couldn’t give without adding a line, as I said). But anyway, even though I never used it, ever, the line was still active when we switched carriers. Here’s the timeline:

    Monthly bill was auto paid from bank account on August 23. So no pending bill. Fully paid. Owed them nothing. Switched on August 30 to T-Mobile. Knew we’d have to pay for the phones, but expected a bill to come out.

    Around September 21, I find a letter from Sprint that was dated September 12 (I was staying with my parents so didn’t get the letter until the 20th or 21st). Letter says I owe $1273 (makes sense… phones are expensive) and that it’s PAST DUE and if I don’t pay in 6 days, they are shutting my lines off. I was confused by that… what lines?

    So I called in and realized they meant the land line. It was already shut off. They take their threats seriously. They said 6 days… they meant it. But I didn’t care it was shut off because it’s still in the box. I didn’t even know.

    So I asked them how they can claim anything is past due when they’d just been paid on August 23 and the new bill hadn’t come out yet. They admitted yet… nothing was past due. They just claim that it is after you switch. In other words, they accelerated the bill for no reason, including when I had to pay it, without ever sending me an actual itemized bill, or even a nice letter say “Hey… your phone balance is xyz… could you pay that please?” I had no way of verifying the amount they asked for was even right because the bill was prepared until September 23.

    Then they sent me another bill saying they’d be sending me to collections… this was dated October 7. But the bill had come out on September 24… and apparently, according to them (I haven’t looked at my bank account recently… my husband deals with the bills and he hasn’t mentioned this), Sprint actually took $1400 out of the account. So they’re fully paid and were when they sent the second letter.

    To make it worse, when I made them turn off the land line, the guy told me it would be $170 for the termination fee. I asked several times “That’s it? Are you SURE? NOTHING else? NOTHING? Because I’ve been lied to repeatedly about what’s due in the past.” And he said “that’s it… $170”. I asked about future monthly fees, or a fee for the box itself… things like that. Nope… JUST $170. That’s ALL.

    Not true… again. They charged $10 for a prorated month (okay… but he still lied about it… I asked specifically about further monthly charges) and then they had the gall to add a $15 late fee. FOR WHAT? They admitted the bill was paid, on time, through my bank account. I’m so glad we are with T-Mobile now.

    Edit: As I said below, they’ve been getting their money on time, monthly, through auto pay.

    So I realize now that they took the $1400 for the phones on 10/15, but they sent a second threatening letter on 10/7. So basically, according to them, as soon as I left Sprint, the phones were due. But they never sent a bill. They didn’t even finalize that bill until 9/23 or 9/24. So before they ever sent a bill or even a letter asking me to pay it, they sent the collection letter on 9/12. And then since my next scheduled on time payment for the 9/23 bill (that wasn’t finalized when they sent the collection notice… it wasn’t a bill… it was a letter) wasn’t until the 15th, they sent me a notice on 10/7 demanding I pay and if I didn’t it would go to actual collections. So… 2 collection letters for a bill that wasn’t due until some AFTER both were sent. When I called, they told me they are automatically sent out. They don’t know why.

      1. Oh I’m considering getting you involved. I’ve been seeing if they would figure it but I doubt it.

        I just checked my bank account and found out they’ve taken their monthly charges out every month. I was wrong about the date… it actually gets pulled on the 15th. So on August 15, they pulled their money out. They pulled the monthly charges out on September 15 for I guess August (because I just found out their contract says there is no proration for a month if you leave… so even though we left on August 30, we paid for the entire month… if it had been prorated, it would have been either a week or 2 weeks… but instead it was the full monthly charge… I didn’t know that provision was in there… it’s annoying… a money grab IMO).

        But anyway, they pulled their money out on September 15 for our last monthly charges, and then they pulled the money for the phones and the termination fee on the land line box on October 15. No late payments. And yet… a late charge. They’ve acknowledged nothing was late and yet are playing a hide and seek game where they will talk to me until they realize something is wrong… VERY wrong… and then they go silent. “We’ll call you back” and then they don’t. “Send us an email” and they don’t respond.

        It’s only $15… but that isn’t the point. The point is, you don’t treat customers like that.

    1. Magic phrase: “What is the ticket # for this call? And your name is? Your title? And your employee ID#?
      Why? Because I’m going to need to be able state you said this when it will inevitably go wrong and I want you to feel the pain too.”
      OK, maybe not the last part, but get a reference or ticket #, the employee name and any identifying stuff. Press them to send you an e-mail about the issue and their promises as well.

  9. In my opinion, Verison should have given the discount they used to entice the writer to buy their services. The phone bill (at least MY phone bill) is such a complicated thing, it takes great dedication to understand it. I wonder how many people who were promised the discount and never got it, forgot about it or didn’t realize it never appeared on their bill.

    Could this be a social engineering project where a company delays applying a promised discount, hoping people will forget or not realize they never got their due?

  10. i’ve been “dealing” with verizon for the past 5 years. (and i record every conversation, just in case.)
    i will admit that the service has gotten better, but i’ve had to fight for every wrong billing, every service outage credit, every failure to properly diagnose problems, etc. and i document everything in writing every time i have to call! (my file folder of verizon bills with notes is 2″ thick!!)
    unfortunately, they’re still trying to mess around with my bill – the latest one is inexplicably $7 higher than the last, and i’m going to have to spend an hour on hold trying to figure out why, and get the extra charge removed. (all the while, i’m getting constant phone calls from their telemarketing department wanting to “review” my “plan”… aka, wanting me to add TV service when i don’t even have a TV!!)
    if i had a choice, i wouldn’t use verizon, but no choice here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: