It’s a bad week to work in Verizon’s PR department. Yesterday, the company announced that it’s making its Unlimited plans far worse, with new confusing options, price hikes for good service, and video throttling for everyone. But it’s not just the Verizon Wireless department that’s having a rough time of it: even Verizon’s landline department is screwing up.
The Boston Globe has a thorough story on how Verizon cut off an 84-year-old woman’s landline service on her birthday, after she refused to pay a bill until Verizon fixed her broken landline service. Cutting off an elderly person’s service is supposed to involve a careful process that ensures no one is put in danger, for good reason: the woman’s medical alert button required a landline to work, so cutting off service could potentially have had severe consequences.
Luckily, the story ended happily — if you don’t work for Verizon.
The Globe‘s story says that the woman, 84-year-old Joan Tanos, first opened a dispute with Verizon after having problems with her landline. “I have never written a letter like this before, but I feel that I am at my wit’s end. I do not feel I should be responsible for the attached bill so I am returning it with this letter. Please fix my landline and I would be happy to pay,” she wrote, as she had been experiencing “loud noises and static on the line, calls going to voice mail without the phone ringing, and messages not showing up for 24 hours.”
Verizon instead moved to suspend the account over non-payment, after sending several notices. But Tanos disputes that Verizon was clear that the account was about to be suspended: “She said the last communication she had was that a Verizon supervisor would be calling her within two days. That didn’t sound to her like Verizon intended to go through with the suspension. But the supervisor never called.”
Ultimately, her account was suspended, meaning she could only call out to 911 or Verizon’s customer service department. She didn’t even realize that her service had been suspended until she missed calls on her birthday, and a relative concerned for her wellbeing came to check in on her. The incident could have ended much worse for Tanos, as suspending her landline service caused her Lifeline panic fob to stop working.
Tanos eventually resolved the billing issue with a sizeable credit from Verizon, and technicians fixed her service.