Saturday, June 21, 2014

A Wireless Wrong: My Verizon Debacle

Last Sunday, my Droid DNA phone would not charge and ran out of power. I took it to my local Verizon store in Sycamore, IL, and asked what I could do to either get another phone or get my current one fixed. The clerk there told me that, because I was six months short of my contract renewal period, a new phone would cost full retail value, and that none of the smart phones in the store were less than $400. He said I could add an additional line to my current account, which would cost $40 a month, and I could get a new phone at a discount.

Neither of these options would work for me. I asked if there was anything else they could do. Could I get another phone and pay for it over a period of time? No. He said if I had an old phone, I could activate it and use it, but that wasn't an option as I traded my old phone in when I got the Droid. He then warned me that if I switched carriers, Verizon would keep my old phone number. This turned out to be wrong.

I was forced to switch carriers and went over to T-Mobile because they will pay my early termination fees from Verizon. A new phone was included in this plan, which I will pay for over the life of the plan. Unfortunately, because my old phone didn't work, they couldn't transfer over my contacts. I knew I'd saved my contacts to the Verizon Cloud, so I figured I could get them from there.

But I was wrong. Verizon immediately deleted everything I had stored on their Cloud system when I switched over to T-mobile. I lost all my photos, videos, and contacts.

First, if I had been given more serviceable options, such as a payment plan for a new phone, or the chance to buy a used phone, or a loaner phone until my Droid could be fixed, I would have stayed with Verizon. Until this point, the service quality and network coverage Verizon provides left me a very satisfied customer.

Second, Verizon shouldn't immediately eliminate someone's personal data from the Cloud. This seems like rude and vindictive behavior. Even former customers should have access to data stored there and given a grace period -- even as little as a day or two -- to retrieve their data from the Cloud.

Because of these actions, I have lost family photos and videos that can never be retrieved. I was lucky enough to post many of the photos online, but almost all the videos are lost. This is a cruel disservice to someone who was a loyal customer for years. Verizon should realize that former customers could be returning customers again in the future. After all, I was once a T-Mobile customer, and now I'm back with them again. But I will never, ever, go back to Verizon. They stole precious memories away from me.

I came away from this experience with a hard-learned lesson. I will keep a paper copy of all my contacts name and phone numbers. The contacts I lost were accumulated over 10 years, and I was able to transfer the numbers every time I switched phones because my old phones always worked at the time I switched. Some of those numbers will never be recovered.

I will also immediately post my pictures online and may even, if possible, set it up so that this happens automatically.

So many friends and family members have been screwed over by wireless phone service companies. They offer a dizzying array of options and plans, and obfuscate everything with legalese. It's an industry that serves a basic need, and has thus become corrupted by the profit motive. It would be nice to have a phone service that is simple, affordable, allows you to keep your number, and offers all the service options and coverage that big, evil Verizon offers.

Also, the phones should be made more durable and fixable. The Droid DNA wouldn't even allow me to remove the battery. And when one component went wrong, the whole phone needed to be scrapped. It would be great to have a set up where the central processing core -- which holds all the essential data that you don't want lost or, even worse, stolen by a third party -- could be transferred from phone to phone with each upgrade.

But there's no profit motive for such an innovation, so it will never happen.

1 comment:

Gena S. said...

In searching to see if this had happened to anyone else, I came across your posting. Could not be more truer words!

I switched carriers, but was assured by Verizon's customer service prior to the switch that as long as a primary account was open (I was an addition to my husband's account), I would have access to the Cloud. This was certainly not the case when I attempted to go back into the Cloud to begin the transfer of some 5,000+ photos!

I was then told by their customer service that I had to port my # back to them, they would pull my photos "out of archives" as long as it was within 30 days of when I originally left... and Voila! I would have my photos back. I ported my #, I saw all of my pictures, and felt a huge sense of relief. (I have become an aunt twice and my dad died in the last 3 years, so those photos were everything!)

The next morning, I logged back into the Cloud to begin the transfer process, but now there were zero photos and videos being stored. I called customer service and all they could come up with is that after I ported back, my phone did a backup and overrode everything in the Cloud, essentially starting over and deleting everything! WTF?!?

I have asked them to escalate this issue to push for a better resolution than "Oh well." But as you said, what is their motivation? Certainly not advancement in technology and preservation of people's memories and lives! Thanks for allowing me to rant...