Last Saturday, I was in Colonie Center taking care of some shopping and other business. And since there was a Verizon store in the mall, I figured I’d go to their automated kiosk and pay my cell phone bill.
Should take about 25 seconds to complete.
Twenty-five minutes later, I left the Verizon store with my blood pressure soaring.
Oh I paid my cell phone bill. But I made the mistake of paying it at the Verizon store.
Let me explain.
I’ve learned over the years to deal with Verizon as sparingly as I possibly can. My BlackBerry KEYone phone is an unlocked out-of-contract phone within their network. I have their unlimited data plan, and that remains for life so long as I don’t sign up for a new contract. I also have a package of minutes for when I call Canada for my duties with the National Basketball League of Canada.
And it’s not like I want to buy a new phone or any new accessories or toys or gizmos or whatnot. Verizon doesn’t carry any BlackBerry gear, so it’s a waste of my time to even look for same in the Verizon store. All I want to do is find the kiosk, pay my bill, and go get a sandwich in the food court.
So where’s the pay kiosk? Can’t find it… it’s not here … it’s not there … hmm …
All right, I’ll just have one of the Verizon employees help me out.
There were two Verizon employees on the floor at the time – one girl was transferring contacts for a customer from one cell phone to another … one … contact … at … a … time …. The other employee was trying to sell an elderly couple a phone plan with a new iPhone family deal and whatnot.
Ten minutes later, I’m still waiting.
Fifteen minutes later, I’m still waiting.
Finally, twenty minutes later, one of the employees motioned to me to come to the counter.
“I’d like to pay my bill.”
“Okay, sir, I need your phone number … your pin … your zip code … and what did you say you wanted to do today?”
“I want to pay my phone bill, please.”
“Okay, will that be cash or credit, sir?”
“On my credit card, please.”
“And would you like to pay the full amount?”
Seriously? You only want me to pay a portion of it so that it can lapse into billing overages? Facepalm… “Yes, I would like to pay my entire monthly bill.”
He took my credit card. “And may I see your driver’s license?”
Gotta give him points for double-checking.
“Sir, what type of phone do you have on this account?”
“I have a BlackBerry KEYone.”
“We don’t sell BlackBerries here,” he said.
“Wouldn’t you want a more modern phone? Can I interest you in an iPhone? Or maybe one of our new Samsung Galaxy phones?”
“No. No thank you. I just came here to pay my bill.”
“You’re paying a lot on your bill. I can get you into an unlimited data plan, it can save you some money.”
“I already HAVE an unlimited data plan.”
“But that’s an old data plan, I can put you into a better one.”
“What’s better than unlimited? Are you going to pay me for using my phone?”
“Sir, we have some new unlimited data plans, all you need to do is sign up and – ”
“No. I am not going into contract with your company, it’s not happening. I just came here to pay my bill.”
“I see you also have a minutes plan with Canada.”
“Yes I do.”
“We can offer you a better plan, with alling available for Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.”
“I don’t need to call Mexico or the Caribbean.”
“But if you did, you could call on our plan.”
“No. I just came here to pay my bill.”
“But sir, if you would just let me offer you this – ”
“No. Your unlimited data plan has hidden caveats in the fine print. I’m not falling for it.”
“We have nothing hidden.”
“Then why does your advertisement offer unlimited plans with an asterisk in the advertising?”
“But sir, let me just click a few buttons here and I can save you – ”
“No. The minute you click those buttons, I lose my grandfathered unlimited data. And that’s not happening.”
“But sir, this will only take a moment, here, let me do this – ”
“No. My bill is paid, right?”
“Yes sir, your bill is paid.”
“Then that’s all I came here for. Good-bye.” And I left.
Steam coming out of my ears. And any thoughts of noshing on a sandwich in the food court just went out the door. Along with me. Out the door of the mall and back to my car.
Now I know why Verizon took that kiosk out of that store. And I now know why they hide the kiosks in their other stores. They don’t want Joe Customer to come in, pay their bill and leave. They want to upsell you for new phones, new plans, new this and new that, so that they can throttle your service, block you from visiting sites that don’t kowtow to Big Red Check, and try to do surreptitious stuff to your account and tell you that they’re helping you out.
And you can bet your last shiny NYNEX that the cashier at the Verizon Store was probably jockeying to get a commission if he could get one of the last remaining “unlimited data” grandfathered customers off that plan. Not today, crumbcake. You can kiss my shiny Bell Atlantic tuchus on that.
Rule number one of dealing with any telecommunications company. Telecommunications companies are not your friend. They will screw you over every single time. Do not trust them. Do not think they are working in your favor. Their contracts are one-sided, their agreements have loopholes that benefit them (and not you), and if, by some miniscule accident they find that they gave you an additional bonus, they will try every possible trick in the book – legal and illegal – to close that loophole around your throat.
Yeah. Next time I feel like paying my phone bill in a Verizon store…
I’ll drive home and pay it with a scheduled check from my bank instead.
Can you hear me NOW, Verizon?
Nah. You don’t care.
You’re a telecommunications company.
By that very definition, you have no soul.