Verizon vs. Earthlink – The Good, The Bad, and The Policy

good_bad_ugly.jpg  Here are two very different experiences I recently had with Verizon and with Earthlink.  Since they are both in the communications industry, it’s worth looking at what one got right and what one got wrong, very wrong.

Verizon – The Good:  I have a smartphone manufactured by UT Starcom that caries the Verizon label.  I was having trouble synching my phone with MS Outlook.  I called UT Starcom and they suggested downloading a recent software update. I did, and once it was installed the voice-recognition function stopped working.  A call back to UT Starcom left the head of tech-support at a loss for a fix.  I asked if I could download the original software that came with the phone.  He said that was not possible, so I was now stuck with a phone missing a funtion I used all the time.  Next, a call to Verizon to see if I could download the original software from them turned out to be no-go as well.  Here is where it gets good.  The Verizon agent offered to ship a refurbished phone with the original software at no charge and I would receive it in one or two days!  In return, I needed to return my old phone to them and the box that my new phone would come in would have a pre-paid shipping label.  A refurbished phone was not ideal, but I would get what I wanted, at no charge, in a day or two.  My problem was resolved with one call. Now that’s good! 

Earthlink – The Bad:  I’ll spare you all the details.  Partly becasue they are lengthy, and partly because I don’t want to relive the nightmare.  My initial call to Earthlink was to request an upgrade to their 6.0 Mbps broadband service from the 1.5 Mbps service I had.  One week after placing the order I had heard nothing. So I called to follow-up and  found out I wasn’t close enough to their switch to qualify.  Why couldn’t they tell me that when I called the first time?  Over the next several weeks I had to place a series of calls to get downgraded back to the 1.5 Mbps service, and to get a refund for the new modem that one senior rep offered me at no charge as compensation for all the hassle I experienced. (By the way, the only reason I got to this senior rep was due to a survey I filled out that gave them the worst marks possible)

Earthlink – The Policy: The first two times I called about reversing the modem charge I was told it was their policy to require a long-term contract to get a modem at no charge.  I told them the original rep did not mention that policy.  At this point I had spent about 11 hours of my time to get all my issues resolved.  I finally spoke to a senior billing rep who reversed the charge for the modem!  Ahh, so much for their policy. At this point though, I was beyond rescuing.  It just takes a while to change Internet service so I have to stay with Earthlink for a little longer.

Things Worth Noting:

  1. When it comes to customer support, do your best to have some idea what each possible resolution will cost, in time, materials, and word-of-mouth.  I imagine Verizon knew that the cost of sending me a refurbished phone would be less costly than the resources required to handle the multiple calls I would make into customer support if they hadn’t.  Also, their first-call resolution stats will look good, and they will have a happy customer.
  2. Customer Surveys – With Earthlink I must have made 20-25 different phone calls.  I recived 3 email surveys asking me how the call went.  Sounds like they send surveys out randomly.  However, I noticed that the survey requests only showed up following calls that seemed to go OK from the reps perspective.  Survey requests should either be sent to all your customers, or be sent in randomly.  Letting customer support reps decide when to send a feedback requests isn’t random, and it will certainly bias your results.  Especially if reps are compensated on survey results.

PS – Please send me email to my gmail address – my earthlink one will stop working shortly.

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