I am still shaking with shock about what I've learned about my mother's Verizon account, so please bear with me.
I discovered a few days ago that a long-running misrepresentation of service has cost my mother thousands of dollars. I'll try to explain this as briefly but clearly as I can, and then I hope for advice or resolution. Because, despite everything, my mother wants to stay with Verizon.
I came to stay with my mother temporarily until I move into my new place. Of course, I asked for her WiFi password so I can work on my laptop, etc. A few days later, she asked me to cut down my usage because she was "running out of Gigabytes". Red flag. I called Verizon Customer Service, and the automated system said that her monthly bill is around $370! This is a single woman living alone with just a personal cell phone and home internet. $370 is twice as much as I pay for those services COMBINED! I endeavored to resolve it immediately.
After a long conversation with a Verizon Agent, here is what I discovered:
In the 9 years my mother has lived in this home, she never had home wireless internet. Ever. So what has she been paying hundreds per month for?
What she thought was her wireless router is a "Jetpack"... for PHONE DATA. Like, if you're traveling. My mother has been paying for increasingly expensive phone data plans and literally using only that device to connect to her smart TV, cellphone, and laptop off of DATA ALONE. NOT ACTUAL WIRELESS INTERNET.
What's more, she has been unwittingly paying for 5 PHONE LINES on her account!! Over the years, every time she took an old or expired "Jetpack" to be replaced with a new model, VERIZON JUST OPENED UP A BRAND NEW PHONE LINE and DIDN'T CLOSE THE OLD ONE! This is how a single woman came to accumulate 5 phone lines on her account, several of which clearly show zero usage, but for which she has paid increasingly for years.
I bet I know what you're thinking. Hear me out. I took her to a local Verizon store to get help, face-to-face. The representative told me, "She's an adult; she can look for other providers if her bill with us is too expensive. She should've realized it wasn't right." (She DID, actually, I'll come to that in a minute.)
You see, this outrageous bill didn't all happen at once. It's like Battered Wife Syndrome. It happened so slowly over 9 years that my mother believed everything was justified; a natural escalation of cost inflation, and that she simply uses up "too much internet" or whatever the salesmen told her over the phone. It started out a reasonable plan and a misunderstanding (which is why the word "Gigabytes" didn't raise a red flag to her). But over the years, as Verizon charged her with additional lines and bigger data plans, all while telling her this was normal WiFi service, it just snowballed.
My mother DOES call regularly to ask about her bill and to try to get her bill lowered. But every time, sales representatives finesse her. In fact, she called Verizon last week to try to find out why her bill seems so high. The representative told her she had ONE extra line on her account (not true) but that she "needed" to keep it open just in case she needed it later. My mother asked again and again for the agent to remove the line from her account and to stop charging her for it, but he was pushy and insisted she keep it and that it "wasn't costing her much each month anyway." My mother is not a rude woman, so she gave in, hoping to try again another time.
The most morally reprehensible part is this: Over the past 9 years, my mother has called Verizon Customer Service numerous times. She has explained that she didn't understand why her Wireless Internet bill was getting higher and higher, because all she does is use her laptop occasionally. and watches Netflix on her smart TV on the weekends. She has asked questions. But not one representative told her what would have been plainly obvious to them. Not one told her what became so obviously clear: My mother THOUGHT she was paying for home wireless internet, but DID NOT ACTUALLY HAVE IT. That fact would have been plain to any Verizon Representative that looked at her account. And every time over the years that my mother has called them crying because she wasn't able to afford her monthly bill, they straight-faced told her that this was a normal plan and reasonable bill, and that she should just pay as much as possible to keep her services from being disconnected.
As I spoke to a representative in person at the local Verizon store, he called up Verizon Customer Service himself and talked to them insider-to-insider. I could hear the guy on the other line, as he looked at my mother's account. As I listened to their conversation, I overheard the following:
"This isn't cool. I bet the daughter is [removed]
"Wow...I see that the last rep she talked to got her on a new plan this past week, but it's actually going to make her bill SKYROCKET next month! Dude was just trying to make a sale."
In the end, after these two Verizon representatives stared at their screens looking at my mother's account activity, eyes goggling because it CLEARLY shows that my mother is paying for SEVERAL phone lines despite ZERO USAGE, these guys were shocked. I reminded them that my mother has needlessly paid thousands and thousands of extra dollars over the past 9 years for service she did not need or use, despite making it very clear that she THOUGHT she had a WiFi plan and needed help to make her bill more affordable.
The more I dug into her account, the more I talked to representatives and pushed for answers, they angrier I got.
I asked for a calculation of the extraneous charges, such as the cost of the extra (unused) phone lines, and asked for those charges to be credited back to her account. Guess how much she got back? Thirty bucks.
To recap: Verizon slowly got my mother paying up to $370/month for a massive, multi-phone data plan for a single woman, living alone, just trying to use her laptop. She thought she had a bundled cell phone and home WiFi plan. NOPE. Numerous Verizon representatives KNEW she thought she had home wireless. They didn't care. Each one just convinced her to go on a bigger or newer data plan. It wasn't until I got angry and pushed for answers that the local representative said plainly, "Yeah she should get Comcast or something for home WiFi rather than using a data plan. It would be a lot cheaper." You think??
When I told my mother how much I pay for my own home WiFi, I watched it dawn on her that she had wasted thousands of dollars over the years. She started to cry, and kept repeating, "All that money... I could have paid off medical debts, I could have put it into savings or retirement... all that money..."
Verizon, I ask you: What would you do if this happened to YOUR mother? What will you do for my mother now?
Despite everything, she wants to continue to give Verizon her business and maintain her cellphone plan. (She got Comcast for her WiFi provider yesterday.) Verizon, for a loyal customer that has trusted your representatives for almost a decade, and paid an obscene amount of money for basically a massive phone data plan, I know you can do better than a $30 credit.
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Follow us on Twitter @VZWSupport
If my response answered your question please click the 'Correct Answer' button under my response. This ensures others can benefit from our conversation. Thanks in advance for your help with this!
I understand your feelings and I agree based on your story your mom's account was mishandled her account. I recommend sending a letter to Verizon's Correspondence Team. Leave a contact phone number.
P.O. Box 291089
Columbia, SC 29229
Hopefully they'll be able to find a better resolution for you.