Last week I went online and agreed to pay a little more for faster Internet. There are three adults in the house, and we all make pretty regular use of the ‘net for a variety of activities, so it seemed worth another $15 a month for a 50% faster connection.
We don’t have cable TV. My connection from Verizon is an ethernet connection, not cable. So this should have consisted entirely of my checking a box indicating that I want to pay more, followed by something in one of their data centers telling something in my house to operate at a faster speed.
But there are lawyers involved, so I had to click through 4 or 5 screens and check off at least four boxes because lawyers that work for tech companies make a lot of money by slowing things down and making them more complicated.
And this was Verizon, so after telling me that faster Internet would only cost me $15 a month more, they sent me an email saying “Your order has shipped!” I didn’t know what they were talking about.
I lied. I did know what they were talking about. I immediately knew that they shipped me a new router.
As I mentioned earlier, I have no cable connection; only a network connection. Since paying Verizon $10 a month or so for a crappy router would be silly, Verizon’s network cable is plugged directly into my expensive and very fast router.
So why would they send me a new one? I called, suspecting I knew the answer.
Their customer service person claimed that they sent it in case the equipment I have cannot handle the faster speed. This is male cattle feces. They have the ability to check their connection to my equipment and ensure that it is fast enough. They could do this automatically as part of the sales process.
I asked if I would pay a monthly fee for the router.
Yes. If I didn’t return it, I would.
I was right. That’s why they sent it!
So, since the package was not sent requiring a signature and I did not have a chance to refuse it, I went to the Verizon store to return it the day after it arrived.
Fun fact: you can’t return FIOS equipment at a Verizon Wireless. Never mistake them for one-stop-shopping business for cellular, Internet, and cable.
I didn’t open the box for the router. I had to open the shipping box because it since it didn’t say Verizon on it anywhere, but once I realized what it was, I left the router box sealed.
At the store, the customer service rep immediately opened the router. He had to scan a barcode on it to get my account info, apparently because the packing list inside bore no information about the device or why it as shipped.
Once it was open, I got a good look at the router. It was for cable service. I couldn’t have used it if I wanted to.
So, either Verizon doesn’t know what equipment I have, or they were hoping I would just throw the unused equipment on a shelf and pay a monthly fee for it.
While I was there, I overheard a conversation. I have paraphrased it below.
Service Rep: “Can I help you, Ma’am?”
Customer: “Yes, I would like to upgrade to the new cable boxes and faster Internet.”
Service Rep: “Can I have your phone number?”
Customer: (provides her number) She beckons to her husband, who was admiring the 65-inch display TV that was in desperate need of adjustment.
Service Rep: “Your contract is expired.”
Customer: Looks at Service Rep as she doesn’t understand why she should care about this, she just wants those things she asked for when he asked her how he could help.
Service Rep: “You’ll have to get a new phone number.”
(In the interests of space, I won’t try to recount the Customer’s husband proceeding to lose his composure. I’ll summarize. Add your own histrionics.)
Customer’s Husband: “You have to port the number. It’s the law.” (He’s right.)
Service Rep: “That’s only between companies. We don’t have to when it’s inside our business.” (He’s also right, but in a very unhelpful way.)
Then the rep spent some time poking around on his computer and discovered that they could keep their number.
For a $22 fee.
I live in an area that’s lucky enough to have two cable monopolies instead of just one. I can only imagine how much more petty and abusive it is when there is only one.
This business model is based on abundance; clients are willing to sustain an abundance of abuse from the only company(s) that provide the service they need.
At some point, that abundance will run out. The FCC will eventually take the steps required to let broadband wireless providers become viable. This will be at least four years from now because the rather modest progress we’ve made with policing Internet providers is rapidly being undone right now. (#MAGA!)
My only hope is that I am still around when it happens so I can happily switch to one of them and watch these thieves recede into irrelevance and bankruptcy.