Dropped Calls and “Downgrades to Marginal Service” : Verizon’s Failure to Serve Its Customers

stock-photo-59556924-young-woman-talking-on-a-mobileWe have been with Verizon Wireless since Jan 2008 and always had excellent service, even in the Rocky Mountains where we live, in the middle of the desert Wilderness, where virtually no other service worked when we first moved here. Beginning in May 2015, our phones began dropping calls constantly — even calls to Verizon Support — not ringing when people were calling us, “failing” even after the call had connected, etc.

After months of tech support and “open tickets” with no solution to the problem, I contacted the Corporate Office in NY, who transferred me to the SW Executive Customer Relations Team (you can easily Google the corporate office, which, if you are a customer, will transfer you to a member of the Executive Customer Relations Team in your area of the country).

After researching the problem, the member of the Executive Customer Relations Team in the SW (which covers, I believe, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico) told me that we had, indeed, “previously been in an excellent service area” but had been “downgraded to marginal service” that “doesn’t operate in buildings.”

stock-photo-44162974-serious-callWe live in the middle of the desert.

On a mountain.

No one is outside making phone calls.

Still, she suggested that I try making all my calls closer to a window, where I was sitting at my desk — in front of a window — while talking to her.

Even though that would still be inside a building, where she claims service “no longer works.”

stock-photo-77411153-young-asian-businessman-hearing-bad-news-with-mobile-phoneI told her Verizon’s service also no longer worked in my car, in the grocery store, in the local Wal-Mart, or even in the nearest large city, which also happens to be the largest city in NM. I inquired whether the largest city in NM had also been “downgraded” to a “marginal coverage area.” She repeated that we had been downgraded, ignoring my comments about the calls failing in so many other places besides our home.

I asked why Verizon would downgrade its customers’ service, and she said — and this is verbatim — “We have more customers in that area [zip code] now so when you try to make a call, you get knocked off the tower by someone else’s call. Our records do show that there have been hundreds of calls from that zip code complaining about this problem, but Verizon has no plans to install any additional towers at this time. If you wish to leave and go to another company, Verizon will not charge you any early termination fees.”

cellular-phone-tower-1309617We get knocked off the tower when someone else places a call?

What is this: King of the Mountain?
dog-pile-1540042 If I was on the phone already, why is it that my call doesn’t knock the other person off the tower? After all, wasn’t I on the phone first?

She had no answer for that.

I believe she thought I was being sarcastic, but I was not, I assure you.

stock-photo-59655824-overworkedThis is simply not the Verizon we’ve been with for 8 years.

She literally told me to go to another company for service.

And she is the third higher tier level support personnel who has “investigated the problem” and told me we have been “downgraded to minimal coverage” or “downgraded to marginal service” and that we are “free to look for cellular service elsewhere” and that we will “not be charged any early termination fees” since the service “no longer works.”

stock-photo-72552053-shockedI have never heard of anything so illogical, improbable, and corporately-insane in all my life.

Verizon has MORE customers in this zip (village of 3K and surrounding mountains) yet everyone’s service has deteriorated?

And Verizon has no plans to do anything about it?

stock-photo-57317424-isolated-business-manEven a representative from their WinBack department, whose only job is to keep Verizon customers from leaving or to convince them to come back, told me that I could leave but before I did, I should “consider that [my] customer service experience may not be of the same quality as that [I’ve] been getting from Verizon.”

Actually, I don’t think it could get any worse.

stock-photo-27696975-phone-hangYou see, in addition to our cell phones constantly dropping calls, failing calls, or not even receiving them — and not just when we’re at our home — our MiFi, which we used as our internet connection for the computer, suddenly began failing, knocking us off the net or email.

Exactly one week after my call to Corporate Headquarters in NY.

Coincidence, I guess.

About the suddenly non-existent internet service, I was told, “There’s nothing Verizon can do about it.”

stock-photo-59655968-you-are-firedThere is, however, something that I can do about it.

This week, I changed to a local, rural internet company.

stock-photo-72081743-that-moment-when-you-stumble-upon-an-online-saleSo far, our service is not only as fast or faster than Verizon’s highly touted 4G LTE MiFi hotspot, but it’s only $50/month for UNLIMITED Gs of data. Because it’s radio-microwave, and the company “has no way of knowing how many Gs we’re using,” they only charge for upload/download speed, and they determine your need for various speeds based on how many computers you have connected to the modem/router and on the internet at the same time. They said we’d do just fine with the lowest cost/lowest speed plan. They’ve been in business 20+ years, all over the state.

As of this update, almost a week later, it’s still faster than Verizon, even with multiple browsers open. And it’s only going to cost us $50/month for unlimited Gs.

I’ve been paying over $300/month to Verizon for our phones, mobile devices, and limited data.

After the new service was installed, I upgraded several of Apple’s Mac OS updates that were waiting and which would have used more than 30 Gs of data with Verizon, over multiple billing cycles, costing me a fortune over several months to do all my computers and mobile devices: the upgrade came down in about the same amount of time as Verizon used to, but without any “data usage.”
stock-photo-72248995-smiling-young-african-american-woman-working-on-laptop Then I updated the 27 apps on my iPhone 6S+ that appeared after the iOS upgrade to 9.1.

Did my guy’s phone and all our iPads.

ALL AT THE SAME TIME.
stock-photo-57360236-surfing-the-net-togetherYeppers, my Lovelies.  I was on the computer, using the internet and email — working on a blog, with several browsers open, uploading and downloading — while all this was taking place.

No problems.

No disconnects.

No fails of the internet.

stock-photo-55509590-celebrating-unexpectedly-good-newsAfterward, when I called Verizon to cancel our “no longer under contract MiFi,” the calls dropped 5 times.

Literally.

If some relatively small company in the rural SW Rocky Mountains can provide this kind of reliable internet service, then Verizon is simply lying about its dropped calls, constantly failed calls, incessant busy signals, non-ringing phones when others are calling you, no VoiceMail indicators on your phone (you have to dial *86 to find the VoiceMails, but the phone doesn’t ring, so you don’t even know you have a call, and your VoiceMail alert doesn’t ring either, at least not on iPhones, so you don’t know there’s a message), failing internet connections, lack of customer service, lack of follow-up response to technical support tickets, lack of follow-up customer service, even failure of support techs to return your call to them if you get disconnected or the call fails while you’re talking to Verizon support about the “failing/dropped calls” problem.

stock-photo-73331023-support-phone-operator-with-headset-at-workplaceThere’s very limited internet service up here on Big Rock Candy Mountain because we’re, well, in the mountains, and there’s no FIOS, no Uverse, or Broadband. We have no land-lines up here, so we can’t even get dial-up internet service, though some of the people down in the little town about 10 miles away do have land-lines. For all I know, they’re using dial-up. The only other alternative is Hughes.net, and the last time we were with them, they were worse than Verizon has gotten.

stock-photo-58284234-angry-girl-with-headset-quarreling-with-someoneNow that we have this fine, fast, cheap, reliable internet service, we are looking for new cellular service, preferably one that will operate off any towers in the area.

stock-photo-76628171-young-business-people-working-with-headset-in-officeI don’t know what Verizon is doing (or not doing), but there are pages and pages of customer complaints on Verizon’s Customer Forums (you have to sign in and search for “dropped calls, failed calls, marginal service area, or poor customer service” to comment or reply, but you can read the comments without signing in by clicking on the link above, which is to one of the complaint forums).

These forums all list the exact same complaints and problems, dating from 2013, and in areas all over the US. And this is only one thread. There are many more.

Furthermore, all the customers are using the same words and phrases in their complaints when reporting Verizon’s response to their support calls: “your service has been downgraded,” or “you’re now in a marginal coverage area,” or “the service will no longer work inside buildings.”

That usage of the exact same words to so many different customers over the entire United states during the last three years is a very clear indication that not only does Verizon know about the problems, it has told its support staff exactly how to respond to customer complaints.

Those forums have also convinced me that Verizon has been stealing from me for years because I thought they were the only alternative in this rural, Rocky Mountain, desert area.

They’ve certainly been stealing from us since May, when our service “was downgraded” and “became marginal” — as if an earthquake happened and moved a mountain between our house and their towers, or the service became marginal due to acts of God and nature that were beyond Verizon’s control.
stock-photo-79198269-angry-frustrated-young-woman-shouts-into-her-cellphone-gesturing-angrilyI’m taking one of our old phones, before recycling it, and testing out some of the other cellular companies in the area to see which still has “excellent coverage in this area,” as Verizon’s map indicates that we do, and which we did have from Jan 2008 until May 2015.

Then I’m telling Verizon to… well, I’m sure you can guess.
stock-photo-74652207-elderly-man-speaking-on-phone I’d advise all of you who are experiencing the same difficulties of dropped calls, failed calls, failed MiFi internet connections, failing MiFi devices, and complete and utter lack of customer-oriented customer service to stop wasting your time on the phone with Verizon tech support, as I did for months, and look for another company.

Then tell Verizon what to do with its service.

I mean, lack of service.

stock-photo-23536296-frustrated-businesswomanOnly when enough customers leave Verizon and its bottom line (corporate-speak for “profit”) is negatively impacted, will Verizon be forced to improve its wireless coverage and services — instead of “downgrading” them to “marginal areas” that “don’t operate inside buildings.”

stock-photo-76882997-smiling-customer-support-operator-at-workAfter that, when the tech support personnel end each call — as they do — with the words, “Thank you for being a valued and loyal Verizon customer since [insert year]; you’re the best part of Verizon,” they might actually mean it.

If they have any customers left to say it to.

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