Tancred Dickens, a Washington DC resident, installed Verizon Fios in his home last month and to his dismay, got no internet access. After numerous hours spent on the customer service hotline, speaking to tech specialists and multiple visits from servicemen, Dickens still had no internet. After 9 days and no service, he decided to take matters into his own hands and write an email to the CEO in a last bid attempt to get internet access to his home. In it, Dickens threatened to protest nude with a picket sign outside of the local DC Verizon office or, worse yet, switch to Comcast.
Here’s the email he sent:
Dear Experts of the Labyrinth of Bureaucracy,
I humbly seek your advice on how to effectively convince Verizon to complete my Fios install so that I too may enjoy blazing fast internet speed and crystal clear television! As esteemed members of this organization who have managed to survive and thrive to the upper levels of management, I was hoping you would have some advice on affecting change in a corporate monolith such as Verizon. This letter is in reference to Ticket #DCE****** and Ticket #DCES******.
My internet and tv service was supposed to be installed on 11/25, but after 4 tech visits, 2 days off work, 1 wasted Saturday, 22+ customer service calls, 8 guarantees, and 9 days later, I am still without TV and internet as advertised. I have spoken to customer care reps, technical specialists, on site technicians, managers, and network experts, all of whom have been very polite and none of whom have managed to get anything done other than a daily unrealized assurance of service by the next day. As I keep falling for this trick of service on the following day, I can’t help but feel as though I am living the “Monty Python Dead Parrot” sketch.
I am caught in one of Verizon’s inexorable circles of despair. I have suffered through many of these cycles and I implore you to help me out of my broadband hamster wheel of alienation and psychological brutality. The first circle goes as follows: Call Verizon Customer Care, wait on hold for at least seven minutes, explain the entire situation, plug and unplug all connections, check and recheck the bloody green lights on the router, power cycle the router, plug in an ethernet cable to the router and go to the verizon speedtest site, perform 5 to 10 speedtests, wait on hold while the customer care rep contacts a technical rep, run speedtests again with the next rep, wait on hold for technical rep to contact the mysterious central office, mysterious central office deems it necessary for an onsite technician to visit my home, take day off work for onsite technician to arrive between the hours of twelve and four, technician explains there is nothing wrong and the problem resides within the mysterious central office providing too little light on data, technician assures mysterious central office is working on it and service will be up and running by tomorrow, no service next day so call Verizon Customer Care to fix the problem. Voilà! Rinse and repeat until you have taken all of your available vacation days from work!
Through sheer force of will, I have graduated to the second circle of despair. I will spare you the entire process, but it basically starts with a call to the 800 number, and ends with a manager’s assurance that competent people are now working on the case and I will be up and running the next day. When I follow up before 5 pm, I am told the techs only work at 1 AM, but when I call after 5pm, I am told that close of business has occurred and no one can work on the problem until the next day. By my calculations, this means no one is actually ever working on the problem. Please correct me if I am wrong.
As I have lost all confidence in calling Customer Care, I was hoping I could get your feedback on the following solutions I have developed in desperation –
A) Protest nude with a picket sign outside of the local DC Verizon office.
B) Perform a ritualistic rain dance to the mysterious gods of the Central Office & Network Center.
C) Create a video blog documenting each interaction with Verizon and posting it on Youtube.
D) Realize that Verizon hates Tancred Dickens and move on to (gasp!) Comcast.
Please feel free to add any suggestions or solutions as I continue this terrifying quest. If I do attain the holy grail of service as advertised, please expect my next email on billing. Wish me luck, and have a great day.
P.S. – Throughout this entire process, there has only been one person who has not passed me off to the next one, never to be contacted or bothered with my problem again. My only beacon of hope, my beacon of light has been a customer care rep called Rich who has (sniff) followed up with me repeatedly to show some compassion for this situation. Although he is not in a position to effect any change, he has been able to keep me abreast of the notes that are going on in my account. Even if I never receive Fios service, please give him a raise as he is the only individual who has shown a shred of fucking accountability
Amazingly, Fios President Bob Mudge and three managers called Dickens after the email was sent, and his internet was fixed within hours. “They were all replete with apologies, kind words, and appreciation for the scathing sarcasm in my letter,” Dickens wrote on his facebook wall. “Credits due as well. I am left with no snappy retort. They responded as well as I could have hoped for. I am either in Bizarro World or it really is true that truth is often stranger than fiction…”
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.