Verizon: You’ll Take It and Like It

June 5th, 2009 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »


I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am that my local phone company, Verizon, has made a generous gift of a peachy keen new voice-mail system. I can’t tell you because I am not.

Nearly everything wrong with such near monopolies comes with this announcement, one which offers no alternative. That is, there is no alternative except to find a new phone service. This is the catalyst to drop the land line entirely or go with someone’s package deal of net, phone and maybe TV.

Living in Boston, I don’t have many choices. The city gets payoffs generous rebates from some suppliers, like Comcast, for permitting monopolies. Suburban chums have options of several cable companies and several phone companies. Verizon even provides their pretty damned good FIOS packages to most of them, including a free HDTV to one wavering chum for taking a low-cost package.

Not in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood. In fact, they won’t even offer DSL. That’s not because it’s technologically impossible. Rather, they just won’t switch my phone to the nearby central switching system. They route it many miles away to a different neighborhood and say, “You’re too far away to get DSL.”

slaves.jpgSo, for the voice mail?

The imperial and gutless Verizon left voice mail. On the home machine, each box had the identical, infuriating message. They’d replace our existing system with a new one. By the way, none of the greetings, settings, passwords or existing messages were coming over. At a time of their choosing, the old system will suddenly die and you must reprogram every aspect of system yourself. Your sudden last voice mail will say reprogram it or you don’t have voice mail.

We were get a letter, which has subsequently arrived, with the new and different commands to use. There is still no date for the transition and, of course, no alternative. We’ll do as they say and be grateful that:

  1. The main access number for the whole system remains the same
  2. We get a few trivial features that we didn’t want and didn’t request

The letter ends, “We value your business and appreciate the opportunity to serve your local telecommunications needs. Thank you for choosing Verizon.”

Having written on staff for business and management magazines for years and been a technical communicator for many more, I am stunned and amused by their arrogance, deceit and incompetence. In this century, placing nearly the entire burden for migrating to a new system on the customers is unbelievable. Moreover, spinning it like a benefit and a choice completes the corporate dunce dance.

Having been involved in software and telecommunications systems development too, I know better. Real companies who care about keeping customers happy — or keeping customers at all — automate software upgrades. They do the work and let the end users customize.

Whether their new voice-mail technology was internal or from a vendor, part of the specification and migration process should certainly have been in how to capture and move the existing accounts. Sine qua non, as we say in the Latin biz.

Instead, on a schedule of their choosing, Verizon suddenly notifies customers of the pending changes. They tell us to wait and act like trained monkeys when the (yet unannounced) time arrives and we hear a sudden voice mail saying our voice mail is hosed. They add that it’s our responsibility to go through the tedious process to return our voice mail to what we had before in effect.

I’m checking my options and Verizon is not on my list.

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2 Responses

  1. adb says:

    Death to landlines.

    Did you get Google Voice yet?

  2. Harrumpher says:

    I have had GC and just updated it to GV. Honestly, until I can use VOIP directly over the ‘puter to speak and listen I’m not pleased with it.

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