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Archive for September 11th, 2009

Verizon FiOS: Wheeling and Dealing

So Verizon seem determined to spend as much money as it takes to bury us in FiOS Triple Play mailings. For the last few months, we’ve been getting at least one mailing a week with exactly the same offer. Perhaps they think we’ll eventually get fed up and buy the damned thing, although rumor has it that the offers keep coming even after you do that.

Anyhow, I called the number (877-896-3354 this week) to ask:

  • How about selling us FiOS 15/5 Internet and Freedom Essentials (unlimited US residential VOIP) for $60/month for two years with no installation fee?
  • Failing that, put us on the Do Not Solicit list to shut off the junk mail

Come to find out that:

  • Nope, the nice voice can’t dicker on the monthly price, but…
  • They’re willing to waive the installation fee ($50) without blinking
  • The fact that we don’t have a TV and aren’t interested in the Triple Play is a dealbreaker for them
  • The DNS list is just a checkbox on their display of my account: done!

At this point we’re spending $50 for Optimum Online cable 13/2 (more or less) internet and nigh onto $30 for a Verizon landline phone without “long distance” calling (which we do by VOIP these days). They can do a bundle for something like $80/month with a brief teaser discount, but no better than that. So we’d wind up paying more for basically the same thing.

After a pleasant conversation he asked if I would recommend Verizon to my friends & relations. I said “Absolutely not” and he asked if I wanted to talk to a Quality Assurance representative. Figuring it’d be good for a laugh, I said yes… and then went directly to the usual interminable wait-on-hold.

The QA guy asked why I wouldn’t recommend Verizon, so I gave him a few reasons:

  • Their phone menu system is impenetrable
  • I often get mysteriously disconnected during intra-Verizon handoffs, particularly if I’m asking difficult questions
  • Nobody in their “customer support” phone tree can explain how much the “Other charges, taxes & terms” might add up to on a bundle deal: they can’t tell me what their service will cost!
  • Nobody at Verizon can explain the random charges / credits / debits / adjustments on my buddy Aitch’s wireless + Triple Play bill. He’s a smart guy; if he can’t figure it out, I certainly can’t.
  • Their pricing is not competitive; it’s more than we’re paying now for basically the same thing. Why switch?

He actually tried to claim that I can’t get FiOS speeds from cable. I pointed out that the difference between 15/5 and 13/2 isn’t “This is FiOS. This is BIG!”, it’s just barely discernible and not guaranteed anyway. Oddly, in the last few months, Verizon has quietly bumped the base FiOS speed from 12/2 to 15/5, which I infer means they found that trying to sell a slower speed to cable customers wasn’t working out that well.

I also infer this whole FiOS thing still isn’t going as well as they’d like. If it was, the incessant offers would stop.

The QA guy said he’d call me back if they could do anything about the price; there’s evidently a New & Better Deal coming out in a few weeks. Of course, since we’re on the DNS list, we’ll never know…

I told him here’s what it would take to get me to switch: paying less than $80/month for internet + phone. I figure $60 (plus the mystery charges) would save me maybe $10/month. I’ll geek for that if they don’t screw me over for installation and suchlike.

Failing that, we may just shoot the landline in the head and go with the cheap prepaid cellphone deal. Google Voice seems to be a reasonable solution; I got a local number that’s very close to our current landline, so maybe it’s time to print up a stack o’ cards and send out some notices.

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