Verizon and the Ferengi rules of acquisition

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.
Written by Dan Kusnetzky, Contributor

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?


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