Posts Tagged ‘Verizon’
No sooner than the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) talked up formalizing Net Neutrality policy than did Verizon CTO Dick Lynch appear a week later and talked smack about metered bandwidth options. Hmm, could these items be related? Hmm…
In the past, Verizon lobbyists have left the option of a metered plan open, prefacing it with the thought of “We don’t need it since FiOS just slays cable company infrastructure.” The party line out of Verizon last week was “We can’t continue to grow the internet without passing along the cost to someone” and the idea floated about at the Fiber-to-The-Home conference was a tiered approach with people paying more for the amount of bandwidth they consume per month.
Currently, Verizon DSL and FiOS customers pay a flat rate per month for the speed they get delivered to their home, paying much more for the very highest tier of service than the entry level and mid-range speeds.
For those of us with gray hair, this isn’t the first time Verizon has invoked the idea of paying per byte. It has come up with dial-up and mobile broadband, so this not really “new. But the current crazy talk is Verizon’s way of signaling its discomfort with the FCC’s latest proposals.
One also might wash to consider the potential for anti-trust considerations if Verizon and the cable companies introduced tiered pricing at the same time net neutrality legislation came into the fore.
This week, word came out that Verizon is pulling the plug on its Hub media phone and VoIP service — all the more ironic given a report out this week saying media phones will be big business in the future. In retrospect, Verizon’s Hub product was doomed from its launch for three reasons.
1) Hub was neither fish nor fowl — it was a broadband service being sold through Verizon Wireless stores/outlets because Verizon (wireline) had no consumer outlets. There was no real champion for the concept and you didn’t see it get the (advertising) airwaves that the stock Verizon Wireless service did week after week.
Sure, it had some whistles that allowed it to access Verizon Wireless services, but you could get those through any vanilla web browser.
2) Priced to fail – You needed a two year contract for the Verizon Hub AND pay for the hardware. Oh yes, let me run to the store, pay $35 per month for an (overpriced) VoIP service and then shell out another $200 bucks for the hardware.
It’s the same sort of “Let’s charge more” strategy that has kept femtocells on the backburner at wireless carriers. Which leads me to the final point..
3) It wasn’t anything Really Special. People will pay more for better service, but Hub was a glorified cheap tablet PC with a vanilla VoIP contract anchoring it. I could be catty and say it would have been better with HD voice, but that’s an apples and oranges comparison — HD would have been a superior service to vanilla VoIP.
Net neutrality had been relatively dormant under the previous administration, but an all-Democratic Congress and Administration has put the issue front-and-center. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski drew a line in the sand this week to carriers and they’re reacting with their usual party lines.
In a Monday speech at the Brookings Institute, Genachowski indicated the FCC would formalize net neutrality rules and tossed in two additions to the “Powell Principles” while he was at it. The first four are: consumers must be able to access the lawful Internet content, applications, and services of their choice, and attach non-harmful devices to the network.
Added to the list are : 5) To prevent Internet access providers from discriminating against particular Internet content or applications, while allowing for reasonable network management and 6) Ensure that Internet access providers are transparent about the network management practices they implement.
In October, the FCC will start a formalized process with a NPRM (Notice of Proposed Rulemaking), asking for comment from the community — yes, that sound you hear is the spin up of corporate lobbyists and their “paidroot” shills — and then maybe sometime next year, there will be actual rules that emerge for a vote.
Among the biggest complainers so far are the wireless network providers who already have been under fire for exclusive deals on phones. The mobile guys say that they need to be able to manage their networks due to bandwidth constraints — which kind of begs the question as to why AT&T offered the iPhone in the first place and the move to a data-intensive LTE world. Verizon’s stock response to any suggestion of government regulation boils down to “Everything is OK, we don’t need more government rules, these are not the droids you are looking for, please move on…”
Look for the real fireworks to cut loose this fall once the NPRM is issued and the PR machines of AT&T and Verizon start cranking.
Having recently gone through my own personal quest to get Verizon to repair my landline, I feel compelled to share five tips to get better information and results out of the phone company. Business owners may want to note 3-5 in case they run into problems since they apply equally well.
I know I’m not alone in being frustrated with Verizon and in all honestly I believe the company has either intentionally or unintentionally adapted an “abandon in place” strategy for its landline business, given the number of stories I’ve heard from other people when it comes to landlines.
Every quarter, Verizon announces that they’ve lost thousands upon thousands of landline customers. But why? The company says its because of a migration to wireless services, belt-tightening, and so forth. They don’t talk about why many customers have, upon going through the rat race of trying to get dial tone fixed, gone to cable providers dial-tone alternatives.
There’s also the not-so-subtle push of FiOS when people call and complain about copper problems. “Well, you won’t have those problems if you get fiber,” says the first-line call center people. They don’t mention the all-day install it takes to get FiOS turned up.
If you are bound and determined — or have no other alternative — here are the five points I offer if you have to deal with Verizon to get a landline fixed.
1) “Attendant” is the magic word to get you through the voice recognition maze to a real human being.
After the second or third phone call, the auto-attendant robot just gets in the way. Attendant cuts through all the crap and routes you to a real human being in a call center. But don’t expect this to be an advancement.
2) If the first person to answer the phone doesn’t seem to know what’s going on, ask for a supervisor.
Call center people are, by and large, paid to get you off the phone as fast as possible. They’re reading from scripts and sometimes they don’t follow the full script and/or read through the full trouble report on the computer. I’ve had multiple call center people tell me everything was fine with my line — with a truck outside and no dial-tone on the line — and all I had to do was to unplug everything on the line, wait 5 minutes, and then plug everything back in. By and large, there’s no love lost between the call center people and the line techs who actually fix things.
Supervisors are the people in your neighborhood, in your neighborhood, in your neigh-bor-hoood… the people who you might meet each day — not someone in a call center 500 to 2,000 miles away reading from a script. You should get a straight and coherent answer from one.
If one isn’t available, ask for a supervisor to call you back. Someone will.
If you have to call more than once or twice, start writing down names, dates, times, and who said what. Promises are sometimes made by call center people and supervisors that don’t happen — and that leaves you with nothing. If that’s the case, then the next step is to….
4) File a complaint with the state regulatory commission
In the state of Virginia, you can file a complaint against Verizon online with the State Corporate Commission (SCC) Division of Communications. Under state regs, Verizon has to resolve about 90 percent of phone problems within the first 48 hours of you filing a trouble ticket. I filed online at around 10 AM, the SCC filed with Verizon by noon, and someone from Verizon was out looking at my line by 5:30 PM. A SCC complaint sets the clock ticking and Verizon gets serious about clearing the up the problem ASAP.
5) Call the President of Verizon in your state
All Verizon employees know this one. You won’t get the president, but leave a message that clearly details the problem. It automatically gets flagged as a priority and people start running around trying to fix the problem. NO, I don’t have the number for Verizon VA, but I know where to get it if I need it. You should be able to find the number you need to call on the internet.
Clone-Wars DIGEX colleague John Todd had some issues with his Comcast service a couple of days ago and posted his difficulties on social media (Facebook, Twitter).
Within a few hours, Comcast’s “hit squad” was following up on John’s post, and Tweeting back to me on a comment I made to John about the existence of the organization. Comcast has a dedicated group of peeps skimming through social media to follow up on publicized customer problems.
Given my own recent dark experiences with Verizon, I can only point to Comcast’s efforts as the latest of a number of data points demonstrating that cable companies “get it” when it comes to customer service, and the traditional telephone companies have “lost it.”
Unfortunately, the “traditional” telecom media is out to lunch on this issue. Nobody (yes, you Wall Street analysts believing what you are told) has factored this into the losses of landlines — it’s easier to blame losses to tighter home budgets, wireless, and millennials than own up to a steady decline in the values and quality for customer service and repair in the landline biz.
At one point this morning, there were two Verizon trucks plus a contractor’s pickup with backhoe at the ready.
Turns out they only need a couple of shovels.
Around the corner, the lead Verizon tech of the day found damage that apparently had come from/around work done on the cable company box — a finding that will, no doubt, be something Verizon takes up with Cox and the VA SCC.
My copper has been spliced/fixed, the temp line has been restored, so all is happy in the world for now.
But still, why was I quoted up to seven days for someone to look at the initial problem? Why is Verizon having to haul techs up from Richmond to work through a backlog of repair tickets in Northern Virginia? Would I still be waiting for someone to look at my line today if I hadn’t dropped a dime (well, clicked a link) to the VA SCC?
Posted July 13, 2009on:
At 9:48 AM, I received a call from a Verizon call center in Virginia, telling me that my landline service was fixed and if I had any questions or other problems, please feel free to call. This message was read by a human being working through a script.
Meanwhile, there’s a Verizon truck parked outside, a backhoe across the street near the above ground distribution box, and a Verizon tech and two contractors plugging in wonderful boxes to locate where exactly the line break is (hopefully not under the asphalt, please). The tech has already worked up a heavy sweat and I don’t envy his labor today.
Note to Verizon: This is the second time where I’ve got a rote call center call TELLING ME THE CIRCUIT IS FIXED WHEN A TECH IS STANDING OUTSIDE TRYING TO REPAIR IT.
Honestly, once may be bad luck and/or human error, twice indicates that the processes and the procedures are broken and need to be fixed.
It would be to laugh, if it wasn’t costing you money and goodwill.
Now we await Miss Utility before the digging starts, I think…
Previous postings in this saga of repair, in chronological order–
Tuesday, July 8
Verizon wireline’s 7 day service window – I’m told that someone might not look at the dead phone line until Monday, July 7
Friday, July 10
Virginia PUC responds faster than Verizon landline repair - File a complaint only with the Virginia SCC (PUC)
Virginia PUC motivates Verizon repair for landline and other mysteries – Tech comes out, declares line dead, need new copper
Saturday, July 11
Verizon Repair fiasco continues… – Verizon call center droid says service is restored, unplug my phones, plug back in, should have dialtone
Straight talk from a Verizon supervisor… – Tech working on my line calls me back, tells me call center is wrong, didn’t read trouble ticket
More repair activity from Verizon this Saturday – Tech comes out, jury-rig a NID-to-NID connection for dial tone.
Sunday, July 12
Verizon repair Sunday phone call – Richmond supervisor calls to discuss activities
Verizon supervisors work on Sundays, it appears.
I spent 10 minutes on the phone going over the repair status of my Verizon landline with a Verizon supervisor. I currently have dial-tone through a temporary jury-rig (hmm, reminds me, must take pictures) between my NIC and my neighbor’s.
The sup was concerned that I didn’t get phone calls from either one of the techs who came out on Friday and Saturday. I told them I wasn’t as torked off about that so much as the call center person who told me that my line was fix on Saturday, go unplug-and-replug your phones in. The supervisor noted that, well, the quality of call center people in the technical industry these days…
ANYway, after telling him for my great-great love when I did talk to the techs and how I didn’t understand how Verizon could tell me it could be up to 7 days for someone to even look at the problem, he said I should see a dig crew out on Monday, presuming Miss Utility can get out here and mark the other lines (cable, electrical).
Pull into my driveway at approximately 2:30 PM today to see the s local Verizon guy in front of my access box (NIC), and there’s a piece of gray wire coming out of it, looped around/across my neighbor’s fence perimeter. The wire crosses the fence on the other side of my neighbor’s lawn and is plugged into my neighbor’s NIC.
I have Verizon dial tone. It’s an ugly lashup, but I’m not going to complain at the moment
Filing a complaint with the Virginia SCC (think PUC) is powerful s**t, my friends.
I also have a call from another person at Verizon who has sounded the alarm and says I should expect a Miss Utility truck today to mark the buried lines, with a contractor out either today or Monday to dig up and splice in new copper.
At 11:40 AM, a Verizon supervisor — the second tier guys who actually know what the f*** is going on — called me back and clarified the status of the phone repair–
1) The copper is dead between my house and the distribution point, there are no alternatives, Verizon is going to have to dig and put in new copper.
2) This process may take up to 7 days (worst case), since it is now a weekend, Miss Utility has to be called to mark the lines and then Verizon’s contractor has to come out to dig-dig-dig… *sigh*
3) “Bob” the supervisor noted that if the first-line person who had taken the call had scrolled down the record a bit more, she should have seen that A) Phone line was dead, Jim and B) There was another work order generated for replacing the copper from this morning’s tech assessment. So, she should have not told me that I had service restored and go through the rote ritual of “unplug the phones, wait 5 minutes, try again, that doesn’t work, call back.”
The supervisor — who I bet installed his share of network when he was younger — did not think kindly of the first line response person. Ya gotta love a guy who doesn’t sugar coat things
The moral of this story should NOT be “I hate Verizon.” I love the line guys and techs who don’t try to B.S. me, they just tell me what’s going on, like the guy yesterday up from Richmond working through the backlog of repairs. These are people who care about the customer and have pride in their work and they know that they can make a person’s day because they’ve dealt with some of the back office crap and it doesn’t make them any happier.
I really wish Ivan and the rest of the Verizon senior leadership would stop and take a moment to reassess and repair Verizon’s customer service organization on the landline side.
P.S. Shoutout to Andy Abramson — happy to make you smile!