Wednesday, April 04, 2007

a friendly chat with verizon

The battery on my little LG phone has been behaving poorly, and since the phone and the replacement batteries are no longer made, I decided to get a new one. It’s been three years since I signed up with Verizon, so I qualified for their “new every two” program. I picked out a new phone on their website. It was supposed to be $150 but they gave me a $100 credit plus an additional $50 instant rebate.

I put the phone into my cart and went to check out. The total was $0.00.

I confirmed my billing address as my shipping address, gave them a phone number (it’s a fedex delivery) and hit purchase.

Then I got another screen that wanted a credit card. It said that I owed $0.00, but still wanted my credit card. Say what?

And why my credit card anyway, I’ve been paying my bill for three years ... we have a business relationship, they can send me a bill and all that.

I was frustrated. I didn’t want to somehow be charged for something else, and I don’t like putting my credit card into websites for things like “guaranteeing a reservation” or “trial offers.”

So I clicked on the little icon to talk to a Verizon Sales Rep.

Here’s my little ditty (this is the actual transcript I cut and pasted ... all names are real, or at least the ones really assigned within the chat window).

Chat InformationPlease wait for a Verizon Wireless sales representative to assist you with your order. Thank you for your patience!
Chat InformationA Verizon Wireless online pre-sales specialist has joined the chat. You are now chatting with Alexander

Alexander: Hello. Thank you for visiting our chat service. May I help you with your order today?
Alexander: Good afternoon, how can I assist you today?
You: I’m getting my “new every two” phone today
You: and I selected one that’s free
You: but the site is asking for my credit card info at checkout ... even tho there’s no balance due
Alexander: Okay, congratulations on your new every 2, are you curious why you need a card?
You: yes, why do I have to enter it?
Alexander: This will clear things up, please read the following:
Alexander: The checkout page requires a credit card even if you have a zero balance. After you enter your billing address on the checkout page, your state may bill you for taxes based on the full retail price of the phone. After you enter your credit card information, the next page will show you if any taxes are due before your order is processed.
You: why can’t you just bill me on my, um, what’s it called? bill?
Alexander: Unfortunately, in order to purchase online and to take advantage of the discounts you must use a credit card, I have no control over this I apologize.
You: who does have control over this? I went into the store to get this phone ... would I have walked out of there without showing them a credit card?
Alexander: I am not sure as their policies differ from ours.
Alexander: Would you like the number to customer care?
You: can I get this phone over the phone without giving a credit card and still get it for free?
Alexander: I am not sure, as they will most likely not be the same prices and discounts that are available on line.
You: so, it’s a gamble
You: just as giving you my credit card info is a gamble should there be a security breach
Alexander: Our site is heavily protected, so only you and verizon will have that information.
You: So, if there is a breach ... ever ever with any of the data centers that Verizon has, I can come and talk to you?
You: Even though you have no control over whether or not I need to submit this card info for a total of nothing
Alexander: Sure.
Alexander: Does your state not charge taxes for online purchases?
You: You are the site that sells things, shouldn’t you know that?
You: Perhaps you could tell me if California does.
Alexander: I actually do not, I am here to help navigate through the checkout process and answer your questions and direct you if needed.
You: You don’t have access to information about states sales tax charges, but know (ephemerally) that they exist?
Alexander: Yes, I do.
You: How would I find this information out?
Alexander: Once you enter in your credit card information it will notify you if your state does and how much the taxes will be and you will have the option to continue and cancel the order.
You: but then you’ll have my credit card information
You: you already know where I live
You: why isn’t the site programmed to recognize this charge BEFORE I complete the checkout procedure
Alexander: No, I actually won’t as I can’t see what you are entering and I don’t have access to your account.
You: I mean “you” as in “verizon”
Alexander: Okay, what would you like me to do?
You: I’d like the site to be reprogrammed to be more intuitive
You: can you pass that along?
You: you have big meetings where they ask you, how can we make the customer’s experience better, right?
Alexander: That is correct, and if you would like that to be sent straight to them I would actually recommend leaving a comment on the site after this chat has ended as there will be a survey.
You: I’d appreciate the help from your end.
You: Thanks for the info
Alexander: But I will also let my boss know of your concern.
You: thank you
Alexander: And apologize for any inconvenience, and your welcome and I will.
Alexander: Would you like to complete your order or would you like the customer care number?
You: I’ll complete the order and take my chances, I’ve come this far!
Alexander: Alright I understand, do you need any additional help?
You: nope - thanks for covering it all
Alexander: Your welcome and have a nice day!
You: you too!
Alexander: Thank you for visiting Verizon Wireless, I look forward to speaking with you again. Have a great day!
Chat InformationYour chat session has been ended by your Verizon Wireless online agent.

At the end of the chat, sure enough, a little feedback window popped up. I gave them my comments as Alexander suggested:

My issue today is with being asked for my credit card information BEFORE my total is available. When selecting a “new every two phone” I was under the impression that it was going to be free. The page where it asked for my credit card DID NOT MENTION that I “might” be charged sales tax.

An improvement to the site might be to have the Sales Tax calculated BEFORE asking for the credit card info, after all, you don’t need the card info if the balance is zero.

I like the credit card to be the LAST thing I enter on online orders, not the middle thing.

It would have helped if the online chat helper could have definitively said that my state DOES have a sales tax charge even for free devices ... it shouldn’t be that hard to provide that info to them, should it?

Thanks for your help.

So, I get to the end of this tale to say that yes, California does charge sales tax for the RETAIL VALUE of the phone. They say that this phone sells for $288.99 (yeah, right, I wouldn’t pay that much for it!).

I ended up owing some $23.92 bucks in tax. Whatever. The point is, why couldn’t they calculate that BEFORE I had to input my credit card, and why didn’t they mention that’s why they were asking for a credit card on a null total on the ACTUAL PAGE.

POSTED BY Cybele AT 5:02 pm     Curious News

  1. i’ve been trying to find that on the verizon wireless website and i can’t seem to find it.  can you help me out?

    Comment by sean on 4/16/07 at 9:55 am


  2. sean - find what?

    Comment by Cybele on 4/16/07 at 9:56 am


  3. the icon to chat with a verizon wireless representative.  i’ve literally been looking all day and i can’t find it.

    Comment by sean on 4/16/07 at 10:04 am


  4. Hey, everything you said I’ve heard a thousand times. I work in Bowling Green at an office that takes these chats for VZW.  The website needs a complete overhaul and we are truly given an embarassingly small amount of information to aid customers.  Please remember this if you ever run into a customer service rep that seems to have no idea what they’re talking about - it may not be their fault.

    Comment by Bob on 5/02/07 at 6:11 pm


  5. They sucks.They got hundred’s of bugs in this my account thing. I have had many problems with them.And tried to tell them to fix that shit. and they never did. I wasn’t able to upgrade my phone online (every 2 years) for a whole 6 months. I spend days and hours talking to them. so some idiot from the I.T department would fix that problem.and it took them about 2 year to fix that. That was in 2004 and not it’s 2007 they just fix it last month (April). Bottom line..they are cheap on I.T and they are no spending enough money and they blame this on the customer.

    Comment by Larry on 5/06/07 at 10:10 am


  6. I can’t find the online chat button on the Verizon site either. Can you please tell me where I can find it?

    Comment by Anonymous on 6/21/07 at 2:48 pm


  7. This happened to me- the walking out of the store with my “free” phone, and then TWO months later, being billed the $20 tax on the RETAIL value of the phone. That is ridiculous!!! It’s not the $20, it’s the non-disclosure of your state billing you for tax and Verizon claiming your phone is “free”. Verizon should eat the tax if they are going to claim it’s free.

    Comment by Jenny on 8/28/07 at 1:51 pm


  8. For the love of God, tell us where the chat service icon is. I used it once upon a time, but it was only because I stumbled upon it on accident. I’ve searched the site for a long time, and no luck.

    Comment by Hayley on 9/05/07 at 7:01 am


  9. I’m updating my phone, can you take the amount of the updated phone and pay the difference for the new phone, also what new phones can you get?

    Comment by Amy Noll on 9/15/07 at 10:12 am


  10. where the fuck do u find these fucking chat service bots. I fucking hate this fucking site fuck!

    Comment by Anthony on 11/08/07 at 2:04 pm


  11. hey guys..i noticed some of you couldn’t find the online chat..well it took me A LONG TIME..but i found have to compare any two phones and when you get to the screen where they show the compared phones.. you have to wait for a couple minutes and also scroll up and down..then it will pop up and you can just click chat!.. it was VERY aggravating but i did it..

    Comment by Kishan P. on 12/27/07 at 12:00 pm


  12. need to check my voicemail but can’t cuz of my screen is broke can’t see nothing

    Comment by lashainnia on 10/06/08 at 11:10 am


  13. I need help with clearing my files and programs and how to stop the pop up that shut my internet down

    Comment by tina harmon on 12/02/08 at 5:39 am


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During November it's all about me writing a novel. Sometimes it's about whalewatching. You know, and then there's other stuff.