Sunday, April 15, 2012
I want to be a fan of Verizon. I really do. I've been using their mobile service for almost a decade now. I really wanted to have any reason to convert to their FIOS for my cable and internet. I really did. I mean, who really likes their current cable service? If there's a better option, I'm totally ready.
But Verizon, you're making this really hard on me. Last year, we had this exchange. As a follow up from that event, a senior manager of Verizon called me and asked for some constructive feedback. We spent 45 minutes talking. While I don't claim to know much about their business, I simply told him that I didn't blame the people in the store. I blamed their training. Verizon employees receive incentives to get people signed up regardless of their tactics. There's absolutely no incentive for good, rational customer service.
Verizon FIOS is now installed in my apartment building, offering a choice from our current cable only option. As a kick-off, Verzion FIOS sales people were in the lobby yesterday all afternoon, "answering questions." The real reason they were there was to get people to switch from their current cable to FIOS. Again, I don't blame the Verizon guys here in the building - that is how they get paid. And, in these tough economic times, who could possibly argue with making a living?
Here's my story. I walked downstairs to pick up my mail. The Verizon guys were set up in front of the mailboxes and the following happened:
Verizon Guy: Hello. How are you?
Me: Good. How's everything?
Verizon Guy: Great. You must be here to check out Verizon FIOS.
Me: Actually, I'm just here to get my mail. Thanks.
Verizon Guy: (Unfolds a large pamphlet with their cable tiers and put it in front of my face.) Which tier looks closest to the one you have now?
Me: Sorry. I'm moving out of this building soon. I'm not interested. (Totally true, FWIW.)
Verizon Guy: That's fine. You can get FIOS month to month with no commitment. How many TVs do you have? Verizon offers this special (points to something on the pamphlet) for 2 or more TVs.
Me: (I feel pressured into not walking away, so, like a chump, I play along.) I have one TV and I'm more concerned with your internet speeds.
Verizon Guy: We have 15/5, 25/25 and 30/30 speeds and points to 3 options. (All 3 options are more expensive than what I currently have.)
Me: (I know the answer already, but since we're here, I decided to ask anyways) What do those numbers mean?
Verizon Guy: With 25/25 and 30/30 you get the same speed both ways. So it's worth the upgrade.
Me: (Internally debating whether to follow the old adage, "If you have nothing nice to say don't say it at all" or asking this guy more questions he can't answer. I immediately do what I believe is right, since it's not really his fault he doesn't understand what he's selling.) Ok. I have no movie channels, but have cable, with HD and DVR and good high speed internet for $105 a month.
Verizon Guy: Perfect! For that, we can do this plan.
Me: The one for $127.99 per month?
Verizon Guy: Yes. We'll be installing next week. Just sign up here. (He puts a sign up form in front of me.)
Me: (I give him the "Are you kidding me?" face). Isn't that more expensive than what I currently have?
Me: Thank you for the information. Good luck with your time here.
Verizon, there's one thing I can say for sure - you are truly consistent. Your sales force is terrible in all aspects of your business. They are pushy, don't listen and are woefully uninformed of your own products. If you incentivize them with sign ups only, that's exactly what they'll push for. You must think I'm awfully stupid to leave an already reliable source of cable and high speed internet for a new unknown AND pay $23 a month more for, at best, the same quality.
It's your business. Do what you want. But if you want one opinion from somebody who ultimately means nothing to your bottom line, here it is: Treat your sales people well. Train them well. They are often the only human interaction between you and us. In turn, they will treat your current and future customers well. When you don't, you get someone like me, who doesn't trust you anymore. I feel belittled. I feel used. And ultimately, I don't want my hard earned money that goes towards phone, communication and entertainment to go to you. I have options. And I will utilize them.
Good luck, Verizon. I'm out.
Sunday, January 01, 2012
I was a post-holiday sucker and fell for eHarmony's free weekend trial over New Years. Having not dated successfully in years, there was really nothing to lose.
Their survey (or as they call it, 29 dimensions of compatibility) takes quite a while to fill out. I'm sure, like everyone else, there's a bit of self deception when it comes to some of your less desirable habits. Like, am I really going to admit that I spend a lot of time in front of my computer? Or that I don't really give a shit about over-priced gourmet food? Well, actually I did admit the latter.
So I'm as honest as possible without sounding like a total loser. It then searches for matches. You wait a minute while it does so. In fact, if you go to another window, the countdown pauses until you come back, so you can watch their advertising. After the 60 second countdown... Nothing. I wait a day, as I heard sometimes it takes a while. Nothing. 2 days? Still the same message....
After 2 days, I finally get a couple of matches. The smallest matching radius is 30 miles. In a major metropolitan area, 30 miles is far. (Ok, so I'm lazy.) I check out the matches, read their profiles and have no idea what they look like. You have to pay to see pictures. Let's face it... aren't we all interested in what they look like? If we were to be honest, that's a big part of it.
The cheapest plan is for 3 months at $45 a month. If my math is correct, that's $135 to give this a shot.
I'm not sold yet. So I read a little bit more, with some wishful thinking that there might be someone remotely interesting that would convince me to spend $135.
There's a profile "question" that has you list "5 things you can't live without". I put a lot of thought into this. I can live without most of what I have. I narrow my choices down to water, shelter, food, electricity and I reluctantly add clothes. I'm not being a literal minded dick here. I honestly could do just fine without my TV, computer and whatever else people say. In fact, it would be a breath of fresh air to find someone else that isn't so caught up in that nonsense.
I begin to read the profiles of the girls I'm matched up with. What are their answers? "Fluffy pillows", "pedicures", "hockey", "french fries" (she better have relatives that died in the potato famine, or this is unacceptable), "pinkberry" (That's frozen yogurt. Which I decided was ok, since 100% of all people that never ate frozen yogurt have eventually died. True statistic.) And almost every one put "My iPhone". So it's not just my imagination that most people I meet are materialistic.
I get an email this morning that one of the girls wants to initiate conversation. I read the first thing on her profile. It reads, "I am a Republican so Democrats need not apply. Sorry but I am looking for someone with the same values and ethics as myself." This alone I have no problem with. Good luck with that. I'm glad you're open and honest up front. You've just got the wrong guy.
When asked about politics, I pretty filled out the "Don't give a shit" form. Long story short, I don't think talking politics really ever accomplishes anything. You scream until you're blue in the face and nothing ever gets done. Life is way too short to get upset about things you can't control. You best enjoy whatever years you have on this earth, regardless of what's going on in Washington DC.
If you insist... At gunpoint, my beliefs are closest to libertarian, as I'd like to see the government stay out of most things (social and financial alike). At double gunpoint, I'd choose democrat over republican, for the simple reason that people shouldn't be told what to to with their lives. (Basically I'm choosing social freedoms over financial freedoms). How did I get matched up with this chick? Nice job, eHarmony.
Thanks, but no thanks
Thanks for the free trial, eHarmony. But I'm not interested. It's easy to get discouraged in life. Trust me, I know. There are plenty of people that'll remind you that you're not _________ enough. Instead, I'd rather surround myself with people that are genuinely happy with who they are and who I am. And for that, I suspend my search indefinitely, hoping that, one day, she'll be just right. And so will I.