I am writing here to try and get to the bottom of some confusing interactions my family has recently been having with Verizon and its customer service.
During early January, my significant other traveled to Croatia while I remained in the US. Mindful and wary of the potential international charges, we communicated only by Apple iMessage and FaceTime while on WiFi. WiFi assist, which I understand uses cellular data to supplement WiFi connectivity, remained disabled. They are on a separate plan with a different carrier.
Fast forward until a few days after she returned. Suddenly my phone was completely unable to send text messages or make calls. I struggled to get into contact with my mother, with whom I share this account, and she informed me that the same was true of her and her partner's phones as well. Attempts to make outgoing calls went straight to Verizon account services, which puzzled us, as my mother had just paid our upcoming bill early, and we were in the middle of the billing cycle.
Ordinarily, we receive texts from Verizon for major account activities, including matters related to billing. We have always appreciated this transparency. In this case, we received no communication from Verizon: nothing about an overdue balance, no warning about additional charges, no explanation for the interruption in service, etc.
Having our calls and texts disabled without proper transparency, warning, or communication from Verizon is something we'll remember well. First, we missed all attempts to notify us of a family emergency (a close relative's hospitalization for a life-threatening condition). Second, my mother missed important health insurance communications regarding her surgery scheduled for the very next day. Voicemails from these calls did not become available to us until nearly a week after our service was restored (which I'll discuss next). Last, I rely on my phone frequently throughout the day for both work and school. At least in that domain, I had the freedom to find workarounds. For the first two matters, we simply missed crucial communications.
As soon as possible, my mother visited her local Verizon store to try and remedy the situation. Customer service at the store explained to her that they saw no balance owed on the account, and could not explain why our service had been disabled, such that all outgoing texts failed to send and calls went straight to an automated message about billing.
Finally, she spoke to a manager who informed her that 230.84 USD in international charges was the reason for our disabled service. He was unable to provide any additional information regarding the date, location, and nature of the charges. He informed her that we could pay the charge and have our service restored or investigate the charges further, but not both.
This was confusing for us to hear, once again, because my mother had just paid our next bill early, and we were in the middle of the cycle. Moreover, not even I, with the primary number on the account, had received any notice from Verizon regarding the situation. I hope others with busy lives and personal, academic, and vocational responsibilities can understand that we cannot manage with an interruption in our service, much less an one that occurs not just on short notice, but in fact with no notice at all. So, of course, we paid and decided to hopefully work with Verizon later on, in writing, at a better time.
Verizon's way of doing business about this issue was such that we had no opportunity to proactively understand, handle, or remedy the situation. This was hardly the way to treat loyal, always early-paying customers of several years. Our relationship with Verizon has always been such that Verizon clearly and properly notifies us of what is owed, and we pay according to predetermined, transparent deadlines in exchange for what has, overall, been fair service. Verizon violated this convention, and not without consequence for us. I have close friends with a wide array of competing carriers, all of whom are surprised to hear of this behavior.
What's more, it seems there are still barriers to us getting a straight answer about the standing of our account. In fact, My Verizon states: "Thanks, you've paid in advance. We'll apply $230.84 toward your next bill which will be ready on Feb 10th." Sorry, what? Was the first customer service agent correct, then, that we had no balance in the first place? Why was our service disabled if that were the case? I hope we are not alone in finding this confusing.
As such, we would very much appreciate a straight answer. We would especially appreciate it if that answer were to include an explanation for Verizon's proceedings during this situation. This experience has been very disappointing for us. We are looking into switching carriers.