The Great Verizon Caper Ends, Second Half; Verizon 10 - Rocker - 0

As many of you know, Ol' Rockerbilly has had a gun fight going with Verizon for quite a while. In the last episode, Verizon gave RB one year's free internet service for one year as a peace offering.

Unfortunately, this plan has not worked. After three months of poor service, commercial arrogance, shoddy performance, long lapses in access - which The Phone Guy said was, "The consumer's fault. You live too far from our point of origin" - and an almost-criminal disregard for consumer rights, I finally called Verizon, which was an adventure in itself, and cancelled the free on-line access service. As I told The Phone Representative, "I would rather pick s--- with the chickens that to continue with this insanity."

Getting in contact with Verizon On-line has been, as I mentioned, an adventure in itself, not to mention futility. When one dials the Verizon 800 number and starts trying to respond to the nine commands, the service starts fading out until there is no sound - nothing. Then one must start all over again, ad infinitum.

Also, Verizon utilizes a log-in protocol which requires the user to key in a Verizon-assigned password - which doesn't work. This past Thursday, I had to key in my password seven times, only to get the same message, "Error 691: Access denied because username and/or password invalid on the domain." Since I couldn't contact the Verizon Technical Division because the sound kept fading, I called the local operator who told me she couldn't connect me as that, "Is a different division."

After a few choice words, The Phone Lady said she would contact the on-line division and have them contact me. Told her that wouldn't work as I don't answer the phone. She didn't understand that and asked why. Told her I didn't want to. She didn't understand that and asked how I knew when another party called me. Told her I let my machine do all the work, and, in fact, I had disabled the ringer bell so I wouldn't be bothered by people I don't want calling me. She didn't understand that. When I told her the telephone in my home was for my convenience, not telemarketers and other cretinous sub-humans, she told me would do a direct connect - whatever that is.

The guy who responded had to be the dumbest person east of the Pecos. First, the sound kept fading in and out and the guy didn't speak English. And was worse on geography. He kept insisting I was in Virginia. Gave him the old West ByGod Virginia shot - which he didn't understand. After a whole lot of meaningless dialog which didn't work because of the fading in and out and The Verizon Technical Representative's lack communication skills, The VTR asked me what was my Operating System. Told him Windows 98 SE. He said, "Froom Meeckrosahft? Dey knew next to noothing on the enternect. Vat or dey?"

Hung up, called the billing office and discontinued the free service - which had I listened to my old pal, John Triplett, I wouldn't have accepted anyhow!

The last shot here is the following from another old pal, Lew McDaniel, recently retired after 30 years service to West Virginia University, Forward Planning and Development, who has had his own tribulations with Verizon.

"OK, you got me started on Verizon. I have dealt with them professionally for about 15 years. All during that time, I found them arrogant, got the market-cornered minded, and completely out of touch when it comes to data and true customer service. But shrewd PR guys. They overcharged West Virginians for years on voice service and when actually caught and fined for doing so, created the World School program. In that one, they installed Internet access to K-12 schools and called it a public service, when actually they were paying off back the fine overcharges. Plus, they picked up the tab only for the installation of the access. The monthly freight they got credit for under a federal program.

"Somewhere along the line, they hopped in the sack with Governor Gaston Caperton with the operator center in Charleston. Then used its continuing presence (it is gone now I think) as blackmail to get what they wanted through the public service commission. Then Underwood's administration helped them along when some state departments failed to pay some of their telephone bills (actually the fault of a single departmental manager in Underwood's telecomm shop). Verizon said, fine come up with a number and pay that - until something else got them going again and they threatened to bill individually at a much higher rate if they did not get their way.

"Nothing is ever their fault and the technicians that come to your house know next to nothing (there are a few exceptions) about data. All they check for in continuity to your house - voice continuity is relatively easy, data quality continuity is a different matter.

"Their argument on everything is they have an established a cable plant that they cannot afford to replace. Anything new, they say, has to have sufficient subscribers per mile to cost justify the installation. That notion works just fine in towns and cities, but not in rural areas --which most of WV is. Western rural states have faced the same problem and overcome it in some cases via their public service commissions. Some have not.

"From my viewpoint, cable has almost as big a presence in WV homes as telephone service and will eventually drive data services into some, not all, more rural areas. Also eventually, cellular voice and data service will supplant copper cable plants, hence Verizon's move into wireless. Once those bastards are competing in the cellular world, they have a LOT of competition and I do not think they can do well."