Verizon and the Ferengi rules of acquisition

Verizon and the Ferengi rules of acquisition

Summary: I closed my Verizon FIOS account in April 2011. I am owed a refund. I've gone round and round with Verizon's automated response system, with their representatives and still can't get a refund.

TOPICS: Verizon

In the Star Trek universe, a fictional extreme capitalist race known as the Ferengi lived by a code known as the "Rules of Acquisition." These rules were designed to maximize the profitability of members of that race. Many of the Star Trek episodes turned on how members of this race would act based upon these rules. Rule number one in the Ferengi Rules of Acquisition is "Once you have their money, you never give it back."

While I can't be certain, it appears that Verizon has closely studied those rules and as implemented them in their business model.

On April 20, 2012 I returned all of the set top boxes and FIOS modem to the local Verizon store and closed my account. Shortly afterward, the moving van came to pick up all of my household belongings. My wife and I drove to our new home. She drove with a car fully of valuable or delicate household goods. I drove with the owner of our home, the cat. The closing was scheduled for a time we would be on the road.

Since that time, Verizon has been sending me monthly Email bills showing that they owe me money. Immediately upon receiving the Email bill, I call Verizon's customer service line in the vain attempt to get a refund for the negative balance. I've also sent them Email, used their online chat function and have called them trying to get a refund. To date, nothing has worked. I'm still getting Email bills with a negative balance and they're still holding money.

Each time I call, I have to wade through Verizon's very irritating voice response system to get to a representative. A recent update has made the system even more irritating because Verizon is attempting to emulate a human operator. While the computer is searching through its records, a human sounding voice says something such as "please hold on a sec," "have patience, I'm still looking" or something of that nature while the sound of clicking computer keys plays in the background. It still doesn't understand spoken English. It still doesn't offer a way to use the keyboard to enter information. It still takes forever to get to a real human being.

Once I finally make it through voice response hell to get to a human, the polite representative tells me that he or she can't do anything about this and that I need to call Verizon's customer financial service hotline.

Each time I call the Verizon customer financial service hotline, of course, either the line is busy (some times for hours) or I get through to a recorded message telling me that the office is closed and to call back later.

Although I haven't made up my mind yet what to do about this, I'm considering having my attorney send them a "produce the refund" note.

Have you had a similar experience with your telephone company?


Topic: Verizon


Daniel Kusnetzky, a reformed software engineer and product manager, founded Kusnetzky Group LLC in 2006. He's literally written the book on virtualization and often comments on cloud computing, mobility and systems software. In his spare time, he's also the managing partner of Lux Sonus LLC, an investment firm.

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  • Have you tried ...


    After a near lifetime's experience with corporate ineptitude and deceit I find the best way is just to take all companies for everything I can get, whenever I can do so. The thing is they are all pretty much the same. I laughed at Mary Jo Foley's headline 'Microsoft Customer Love'. I've put it in my list of examples of oxymorons.
  • Remember Ernestine the phone operator

    We're the phone company, we don't have to care.
  • On purpose

    American corporations have turned malignant. They know they are outside of the law or any restraint. That is what their campaign contributions and lobbing money buy.
    • They compel workers to train their own replacements

      before the replacements get shipped back to their home countries, some of our politicians vote to give or to continue giving taxpayer money to companies that offshore (with the one gross positive that we'll eventually run out of money to prop up the so-called "free market" with because we've ran out of jobs here in the process), and while FOX rants over college kids being asked about wealth redistribution to those who didn't earn their grades, they turn a blind eye to everything said above. But who said FOX had the working class' interests in mind when they write their puffery?
      • Anybody who doesn't agree with me can feel free to do web searches

        Since posting URLs to articles directly has been hit or miss of recent.

        But if you wish to flag, be so kind and respond as to why - seems the civilized thing to do, surely?
  • Comcast

    Had similar experience with Comcast. They owed me money, but claimed that it was me who owed them.
    At the end they sent my account to debt collectors.
    That got me sufficiently p&*&* off and I called their customer reps and mentioned I am planning to go court. That got their attention, I had a manager on the line immediately, I got a check and an apology 3 days later.
    Still hate their guts...
    I do not think Verizon is better of course. But after all these are all monopolies and act as such.
  • Write to the office of the CEO

    When i had a persistent problem with internet outages I wrote to the CEO. I marked the envelope "for the personal attention of...". I doubt he actually saw it but the CEO's office sent it to an elite team of customer service folks who gave me direct numbers for outage reporting and customer service.

    It might be worth a try in your case.
  • Report trm to the BBB

    Report them to the Better Business Bureau. For some reason they care about their BBB rating, so you might get more service that way.