What are the options for study abroad student services?

My sister has been study abroad in Japan since August last year, 2015. She will be away for a full year. We talked about the different options she would have while she is overseas and how I will handle her phone service, etc. The problem I ran into is the service suspension policy. I thought I could suspend her line, "without pay", while she was away by using the line suspension program Verizon had to offer. I was very wrong!

So far I have had the worst time trying to keep up with the line suspension program and their system hasn't been user friendly. When she left, Verizon's policy included a 2 time line suspension program for 90 days each, giving me a total of 180 days in a yearlong period. I didn't have to claim lost or stolen, there was an option of "other" and it suspended the line for 3 months without pay. This meant that after suspended my sisters line in August, in the month of November I would need to reactivate the suspension, but until then it was taken care of. During this first period of suspension, I didn’t have any issues, her services had been reflected correctly and the line was only charged for equipment; however, Verizon's policy had changed. I was never notified and it wasn't something that was publicized. The new policy that Verizon started adjusted the suspension program for only 1, 90 day period, instead of the 2 that were offered before. Their first policy wasn't long enough for the year my sister was gone and this new policy made things worse.

I had no idea of any changes and was not prepared with a back-up plan on such short notice. When November came around and her line was activated I was informed, but only that it was about to be activated. When I went online I looked to suspend without pay again and the option was not available. I called in and was advised that the only way to suspend without pay was to claim the phone to be lost or stolen and that this program would only last for 30 days. So now I am forced to dishonestly claim that a device is lost or stolen in order to prevent payment for a service that I don't need. As a customer I was upset to hear about the policy change and that there was no way to responsibly take any other action. I tried to suspend without pay several times, November, December, January, and then February. This didn't go well either.

Apparently their new policy of 90 days included the 90 days that was already used before the policy change. My efforts to suspend the line during November through February were fruitless and the policy wasn't fully explained to me until end of January, when I had requested the line suspension several times already, spent hours calling in to Verizon and had lengthy conversations about my frustrations. At that time Verizon decided to give me a credit on the account in the amount of my sister’s service from November through January. To be honest, it didn't make me feel better. I had paid a pro-rate for each time their system switched me from suspension “without” pay to suspension “with” pay (This portion was never credited). This, by the way, is done automatically and because the status on the line is still “suspended” I, as an account owner, am not notified of this billing change until I see it appear on my new bill.

I had spent hours each month trying to get this issue figured out and their "month in advance" billing made this very hard to see clearly. Because I was always paying for a month in advance for services that were incorrectly charged, I was forced into paying a pro-rate for the time it took me to see the change in billing. I was very dissatisfied and am no longer happy with my “Verizon Experience”.

Even now, after all the trouble I went through, I still have 7-8 months left before my sister comes back to the US. The only fix that I could find is to pay off the entire balance of her phone and disconnect her line entirely. This was not something I wanted to do. I wanted the insurance on her phone to last the life of her device and now I will need to deal with adding her line all over again. Not to mention that this means she has lost her number.

My suggestion for Verizon has been to add a notification for line suspensions when the status changes from non-billing to billing. Also I asked that they review a program for students that are in a study abroad program. If they can provide a service for the “military” it shouldn’t be too hard to set one up for students, especially if they want to keep my service. I would also go far enough to ask for services in billing as well. If we need to trust them to bill us correctly for their “month in advance” billing system, then they should allow us to see the preliminary numbers if there are any adjustments. This way I am not spending more time and money waiting to see the “correct” adjustments when I can take care of them immediately. There is nothing I dislike more than being charged more money and paying more than I feel is fair.

I apologize for the length of this message, but I know there are probably a lot of other people who have similar issues and I believe that this detail is necessary to convey all the issues we customers deal with in this situation.

I hope this has helped.


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