I had a visit to marketing’s Theatre of the Absurd yesterday. Although Verizon Wireless’s slogan is "we never stop working for you," apparently that does not include me.
Now that things are all good between RIM and NTP, I’m ready to make a switch from my Treo 650. Although my "new every two" $100 credit comes up in July, I was ready to pay for a new handset now without the credit and re-sign for another two years.
After being bounced around three customer service operators, I was given an 800 number for the "early upgrade department." In VZW terminology, this is the "continuity marketing" department. I was told that, despite the fact that I was ready to pay $300 for a new handset and sign up for another two years (adding 18 months to my current contract), I could not do so.
me: "do you realize I am trying to pay you $300 now and extend my contract for 18 months?"
VZW rep: "yes, but I’m sorry, you are not allowed to upgrade at this time."
This went back and forth for a while, until the "continuity marketing" supervisor made it clear that "she was not authorized" to do anything about this and her department handles "mailing out postcards and flyers." So…I’d need to call customer service. I called customer service and they said…"there’s nothing you can do."
me: "don’t you see I’m trying to buy something from you and you will not let me? how is that good for your business?"
VZW rep: "yes, I can see that but we cannot help you at this time. I recommend you buy the handset you want from eBay and call us back to activate it."
These interactions were actually not frustrating to me, but rather amazing, as Verizon Wireless is clearly unable to serve their customers because of the roadblocks established by their own processes. I’m currently working on research regarding the future of the marketing organization and this was a clear example of how today’s marketing is broken.
So if you’ve read this far and are a Verizon customer, here are three things you should know that aren’t readily apparent to the public and might help:
- The Consumerist has an entire Verizon thread
- VZW has a "three strikes" policy: if you have three issues with your phone, you are eligible for an early upgrade at steep discount to a new model.
- VZW has a three year calling plan: if you are willing to lock in for this long, you will get bonus minutes, among other things.
As for me – if I can wait until July, I might as well hold out until October and switch to Cingular or T-Mobile!