Since I moved into Troy Hill in 2011, I had Verizon FiOS. In this area, there are two choices. The first choice is Comcast which I had them for a while while I lived at my previous address, but was regularly plagued with problems of service quality and billing issues. In a matter of fact, I eventually found out that I “owed” them $35 which I know I didn’t. And according to the person I spoke with, they don’t send any bill beyond the final bill, so you are left to assume that the bill is paid even though Comcast doesn’t recognize it.
I signed up for Verizon, and initially had everything. Finances left me to terminate my home phone (in favor of SIP), and my very old TV broke down which was good because all of the channels I would have watched was always on the most expensive tier price. I was able to keep my Internet bill reasonable, and then Verizon got Greedy to where it will negatively affect them as far as our relationship goes.
Over the past couple of months (as of 2015-10-21), my bill increased and kept going up. I looked a couple of days ago and seen that my bill will eventually become $90. For someone that only gets $750/month, this is a significant and realistically unsustainable. I figured that with me being a what I thought was a valued customer considering I only call when I have a legitimate problem (almost all problems came from the Actiontec router/modem), and when the problem was not immediate, I tried to address it via email so I am not taking valuable time. I always paid my bill on time, and electronically with me only being late a couple of times in my 4+ years with Verizon.I figured, I can get in contact with Verizon, and simply explain my situation, and of course they will work with me to find a suitable solution for everyone. Yes, I was wrong about that.
I figured I should address this immediately. One of Verizon’s little chat popup boxes came up, and while I normally see this as a gimmick, I figured make use of it. I chatted with the representative and explained my situation. So, the cheapest option they were willing to offer me was reduce my speed from 50MBPS (which I never really thought I got) to 25MBPS, pay $72 ($18 less), and sign a 2 year contract.
Now, I felt that the reduction of speed was not worth the cost savings, but I really wanted to try to keep Verizon. I figured that with me being a reasonable customer for 4 years, I could use that loyalty to my benefit. I informed the person I spoke with that a contract was not an option. Of course, they want to force me in a contract because F*** You. So, they tried to spin it as if a contractual obligation that is always one sided against the consumer is a good thing. The only way they can spin this was that I was guaranteed that my price will not go up. I mentioned that they can simply do a price freeze. I was then recommended that I call Verizon.
Phone Call 1
So, the next morning, I did just that. I called Verizon, and told them that in order for me to continue as a customer, that I need to reduce my internet bill. And the only negotiation unacceptable was a contract. He checks through my options, and offers a “bundle” with television. I explained that the goal of this call was to reduce my Internet service, and that television services is not something that I would want or be able to make use of. He then gave me the same option as the web chat representative offered. I reminded them that a contract requirement was an automatic no, then he tried to dispute with me as to why I would not want a contract (which I will compose my rationale later). I then asked if my only option was to sign a 2 year contract, or look for alternatives that didn’t involved me paying Verizon. He confirmed those options. I then thanked him for his time, and terminated the call.
Knowing that in my area (the second largest city of Pennsylvania) we are blessed with 2 broadband providers. Even if one was to consider DSL as an option, if there is FiOS, Verizon will simply have pulled out the copper lines and DSL will simply not be available. So, even with the negative history with Comcast, I felt as if this was the lesser of the evils now.
Did an online chat with a representative and asked what other charges will apply to the promotional $30 plan that offers 25MBPS. This includes an installation fee, and a modem lease. The $30 is a price freeze for 1 year (no contract required). The person was definitely more concerned with closing the sale than actually being informative. Getting tired of the sales pitch, I told the rep that I am choosing them because they meet my needs (by their claims), and they are the lesser of the evils at this time. Started the sign up process, and will have an appointment so I can pay for the privilege of being a Comcast Customer (installation fee and modem lease) on the 22nd between 2:30PM and 4:30PM or from my experience between 2:30PM and whenever they damn well please. As with my concerns of terrible billing management, I didn’t even have service and received a grossly inaccurate bill estimate which I had to spend almost an hour on the phone with Comcast to resolve. So, yes – they are already showing they hadn’t changed, and I have yet to be an official customer.
Phone Call 2
I probably should have asked this information in phone call 1, but I was so disgusted with how I felt I was treated that I neglected to inquire. So, I called Verizon back and already knowing that the relationship with them will be absolved, my questions were intended to be direct and to the point. I reached a representative and asked when my billing date is. He informed me that it was the 19th. So, obviously I will be responsible for one $90 payment. I then asked if they prorate services at termination. If so, this will mean that I will have to be responsible for $3/day that I will have Verizon in this billing month. He asked why I am inquiring. I informed him the the truth and that I will be terminating my services with Verizon this week. He of course needed to know why, and I informed him that I will have to select Comcast as my provider because I couldn’t get a sustainable solution with their company. Now, the representative goes into “Aggressive Sales Mode” and informs me as if he was concerned over the well being of my internet resources of the vastly superior benefits Verizon has over Comcast. I then brought him back to reality and informed him that I already know the consequences and there was a reason why I chose Verizon when I moved into their service area. However, nothing he said changes the facts. He then informed me that there was a $65 option that is available to me. I told him it is rather conventient that there is this option when I am in the process of terminating my relationship with their company. He then informed me this option was always there. I then reminded him that as being a human being, I am not able to see what is on their screen, and sounds as if for what ever the reason, the previous people I spoke to neglected to provide that option, and told me my only option involved a contract, and that is a Verizon Problem. After a couple of more minutes of him trying to salvage a failed negotiation, we terminated the call.
Since Comcast will come between 2:30PM and when they damn well please on Thursday, I will wait until Friday to go to the East Liberty neighborhood of the city to return the router and terminate services. And while I am sure that Verizon will have a problem with it, I will have to make payments on the $102 I will owe them. This is obviously due to the requirement to pay an installation fee with Comcast, and current bills always take precedence over terminated accounts. I am sure I am going to have problems with Comcast, but at least for a year (if they fixed their first of many billing issues that I will have), my bill will be 1/3 of what Verizon will charge me. I guess this is the perk of being a loyal Verizon customer. The price will be expected to go to $65 which is about the same price that the representative from phone call 2 offered. I will try to get a better price about month 10. However, Verizon burned their bridge and it is their responsibility to eventually build a new one.
Why No Contract?
First, in the United States, we have some of the worst Internet Services in all of the developed countries. Considering the US is the birthplace of the Internet, this is a disgrace. In the United States, most areas have just 1 broadband provider, and I am lucky to have 2. However, if one is given a choice to eat dog fecal matter, and human fecal matter, it is still fecal matter – no matter how pretty it may look. With that in mind, the ISPs have made their business off of forcing customers with a ball and chain around their neck. Contracts are very one sided with very little opportunity to address any real problems. As long as some service is provided, the ISP fullfills their part of the bargain. When you see Internet speeds, that is usually what you will get in an ideal situation, and not the norm. Therefore, I will expect to get 10MBPS out of my 25MBPS plan I am going to be paying with Comcast.
Now let’s look at the results of a contract. An ISP will like to remind you that they are obligated to keep the price where it is under a contract. They then make it sound as if they are doing this because they value you. No, they are doing this because under a contract commitment, they are required by law to keep that price. This is why a person can terminate a cellular contract if the price went up on their account. Now, if you move beyond their service area, they obviously can’t provide service to you, and therefore contract is null and void.
So, what happens if you lost your job, or the cost of living forces you to terminate Internet? Well, if you are under a contract, the ISP can force civil and legal action against you. Unless you are homeless, and therefore have no service address, you are required by civil and possibly criminal law to keep with the contract. Now are these ISPs throwing people in jail, no of course not. That is bad publicity, but in some jurisdictions, they have that right too. But they can press civil action against you for the amount that the ISP would have received to the end of the contract term, and usually can add a number of other charges such as a termination charge, late fee charges, attorney fees, and all so you can save 20% and get half the speed.
So Verizon, thank you for treating me like an unvalued customer, and only willing to offer an alternative when you forced my hand in choosing your only competitor. I am really glad that my four years of loyalty and commitment to you (at least half by my choice) meant something to you. It was a pleasure doing business with you.