Some friends of mine wanted help with their Verizon account. Basically, they had1 six wireless lines. I’m a pretty tech savvy guy and I’ve got two. But, nevertheless, they had six – one of which was a smart phone line with a data plan they had reduced to a normal phone plan and a wireless card plan. But, they wanted to cut back to only three lines. The problem was that of their six lines, three had had 15 months on their contract, one was their wireless card with days to go before it was out of contract, and two were their personal lines that were already out of contract. To make matters worse, one of the three 15-month-to-go lines was the former smart phone plan – which meant its cancellation fee was more than twice that of the other two lines due at the same time.
If they had just cancelled the unnecessary lines, they would have been hit with $530.00 in cancellation charges. Since their two personal lines were out of contract and the wireless card was days away from being out of contract, it would have cost them only $590.00 total to walk away from Verizon forever. 2
After talking to a Verizon representative on their behalf I discovered that you could switch phones among plans, but that if you did so you would have to assume the new plan’s phone number or get a new phone number altogether. This made matters both more simple and more complex. Here’s the solution we came up with:
- Personal phone 1 -> swapped into the former smart phone line with 15 months to go and the $270.00 cancellation charge, but now they didn’t to cancel the line
- Personal phone 2 -> swapped into one of the basic plans with 15 months to go and only $130.00 in cancellation charges, but now they didn’t to cancel this line either
- Wireless card -> no change
- Original personal line 1 -> was swapped into the former smart phone, and since the line was already out of contract, it could be cancelled with no charges
- Original personal line 2 -> was swapped into one of phone that still had 15 months on its contract, and since the line was already out of contract, it could be cancelled with no charges
- Third line/phone with 15 months on contract -> they paid the $130.00 cancellation fee, since it was $30.00 cheaper than just paying the lowest possible plan until the contract was up
My friends could actually have saved another $70 or so by swapping the wireless card onto the third line with 15 renaming months, but doing so would have meant a change to their plan which currently has unlimited data.
The practical upshot of all of this is:
- My friends had to choose new wireless numbers, which isn’t that big a deal when no one remembers numbers once they’re in the phone’s address book
- They are paying $130.00 in cancellation fees, instead of $530.00 in potential cancellation fees
- The entire process took two 45+ minute phone calls with Verizon over two separate evenings to get the whole thing straightened out
Here’s my take on this. When someone has six lines with your company, you shouldn’t require this much jumping through hoops. You should help them out to do what they want to do. If Verizon’s support person3 had the authority to realize what a waste of time and effort messing with these contracts would be, they would have said, “I tell you what – if we fiddle around with your accounts, we could find a way to cut $400.00 off of all of your line cancellations – at the cost of requiring you to choose new phone numbers. Why don’t I just waive $400.00 of these cancellations charges, let you keep your numbers, and extend all three of your contracts by 15 months?” This process would have taken 5 minutes and left their customers feeling very happy.
Ultimately, this is why it is important to hire good customer support staff – people who have the creativity to find a reasonable way to handle a situation and have the authority to implement it.