By Lila Bricklin
How to break the knees of a corporate conglomerate?
This was my dilemma at the end of July when I moved, and for six days desperately tried to get Verizon to transfer my good ole’ fashioned landline service all the way across the street in Mt. Airy. In the past, it was a simple transaction. Call several weeks before the move, tell them the dates and new address, and voila, when you arrived at your new residence, you just plugged in the phone and there was a dial tone…NO MORE!
As I write this, it’s been a week since this sorry saga began. Verizon cut off my service two days before I moved. It took nearly four hours with multiple transfers, speaking with a half-a-dozen Verizon employees from different departments—none of which could communicate with each other—to get my service restored. Like I had nothing else to do!
And this is a communications company?
I confirmed my move date and afternoon appointment for two days later when a technician was to install a couple of new jacks. Everything was set…or so I thought.
The next day, Verizon called with new marching orders. I was informed that service could not be maintained at both locations the day of my move as prearranged and so the cut-off date was extended one day. Still, I was told, the minute I arrived at my new abode, I could plug in my phone to the lone jack and get a dial tone.
So the big day arrived along with a big moving truck and three big men to do the heavy lifting. All was done in three-and-a-half hours on a sultry Friday morning, the last in July. I plugged in my phone.
I was stunned. Having moved three years prior and 10 years before that with no hitches, I couldn’t believe I had no phone service. I called Verizon and got the runaround. Exhausted from the move and frustrated to tears, I decided to live with my cell phone for the weekend and start all over on Monday.
As the debt ceiling debate crescendoed, I called Verizon again. I was put on hold for 20 minutes, 30 minutes and even 40 minutes. Then it occurred to me that I was burning up my free cell phone minutes. Indeed, I had used most of my time for the entire month of August. So, I picked up the land line at work, something I normally never do for personal calls. But what was I supposed to do? Have no phone service? I live alone. I couldn’t risk it. Verizon promised me I would have service by the time I got home from work on Monday, August 1st.
Tuesday, I started again—spinning my wheels—more holding, disconnects, misinformation and seemingly no way to cut through this morass. Finally I realized I had to circumvent the Verizon bureaucracy. So, I decided to contact Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the only at-large candidate I voted for last May.
A stroke of genius!
One of her constituent services aides, Candice, was more than willing to try to help. She said she would call me back before 5pm. She did and told me that I was second on the docket for the next day to have a technician come to my apartment building and turn on the juice. I was elated. I asked her how she did it—cut through the Verizon red tape. She hedged a bit and just said a business contact intervened.
Aha! She had a contact that had the authority and/or clout to make it happen. My type of woman. Now, that’s what I call good constituent services! The technician arrived the next morning and said his Northeast Philly route was suddenly preempted. He was told to get down to Mt. Airy fast. I explained to him what happened.
And on the sixth day I finally got a dial tone.
Perhaps not as important or difficult as the debt ceiling debate that simultaneously played out during this Verizon debacle, my personal outrage cut a sharp parallel.