Is Hotwire ‘making stuff up’?

Do online travel agencies make things up in order to keep your hard-earned money? That’s what Gavin Lipschitz wanted to know after he made a recent reservation through Hotwire.

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Hey Verizon, what happened to those discounts you promised?

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.

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?

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A little disconnect on Sprint’s discount offer

Sprint promises Jennifer Thomas a discount, but it doesn’t come through. Can she force the phone company to honor its word?
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Yes, $859 is lower than $766 — you got a problem with my math?

If you think you can beat a travel company at its pricing game, then meet Ron Faul.
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Hey, where did my Sprint discount go?

Michaelstockfoto/Shutterstock
Michaelstockfoto/Shutterstock
When Denise Mendoza “upgrades” her Sprint account, the discount she had for years is gone. Is there any way to get it back?

Question: I’ve been a Sprint customer since 2003. We’ve had our ups and downs, but I was always able to resolve my issues with them. Until now.

I have had a discount with them since 2005. This May, I responded to an offer to upgrade my account at a lower rate.

When I called, they said the offer was for new customers only.

“What about old customers?” I asked. “Shouldn’t you give someone who’s been loyal to you that price?”

A representative agreed to waive the rule and I signed a new two-year contract. The sales manager told me nothing would change on my account, except the rate.
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Maybe this Groupon deal wasn’t a deal after all

auremar/Shutterstock
auremar/Shutterstock
Groupon is a bargain website that promises daily deals and “unbelievable” customer service. But Stuart Lord says he got neither when he bought a VIP wine package in California’s Sonoma Valley — a deal he later discovered was significantly overpriced.

Here are the specifics: The offer was for two people for two nights at the Sonoma Valley Inn and two “VIP” wine tastings. Total price: $169.

“The advertisement said it was worth $320 — a 47 percent discount,” he remembers.

Only, it wasn’t.
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Liar, liar! 28 percent of hotel guests admit they stretched the truth for a discount

If you’ve ever fudged a few facts to get a hotel discount, you’re not alone. Almost 3 in 10 hotel guests admit they stretched the truth to save a few bucks, according to a new survey.

Asked if they’d ever lied to secure a discount, 28 percent said “yes.” A majority — 72 percent — said they’d never misstated a few facts in order to save money.

The survey of more than 800 travelers was conducted last week by readers of this site, Consumer Traveler and members of the Consumer Travel Alliance.

Although the number of hotel guests who say they’ve lied may seem high, it mirrors similar surveys conducted in the past. (I’ve dealt with the subject of guest honesty in previous columns, including this memorable story.)

Of course, not everyone can agree on a definition of lying.
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