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This is Paul Hirsch

Paul Hirsch

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A little Verizon Rant

(If you want to skip the background story, hit ctrl-F and search for “the punchline” – it’ll take you past the setup)

So, earlier this week, I broke my cell phone. It was Monday night, and I accidentally dropped it off a counter in my kitchen. This shouldn’t be a big deal – I was paying for the full replacement insurance, and I was still under warranty. Between the two, I should be able to get a replacement.

I go to the Verizon Store on Tuesday, and ask about getting my phone replaced. No problem – my coverage handles it. The only problem is that my particular phone (HTC Touch Pro) is not being stocked by any stores or local warehouses (it wasn’t exactly Verizon’s most popular or loved phone).

Still not a problem. I pay $16 to get priority overnight shipping, so I’ll have my replacement by 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. I knew I wouldn’t be able to coordinate my day to intercept the package at 10 a.m., but I could get the delivery slip and pick it up after 4 p.m. It’s tough not having a phone or my contacts available, but I can muddle through a couple days if need be.

I pick up my phone from the local FedEx Express center, bring it home, open it up…it’s the wrong phone. They sent me the HTC Diamond instead of the Touch Pro – a similar phone, but made differently (it’s smaller, doesn’t have the slide-out keyboard, etc.).

Now, here’s a little insight into the replacement plan. When you invoke the manufacturer’s replacement, you receive a stripped down phone that contains no components – no external card, no battery, and no battery cover/backplate (and it’s a certified reused phone). Normally this makes sense – if you’re replacing a bad unit, you shouldn’t need to replace all those components too.

I call Verizon, tell the customer service representative my story, and he goes through his script, asking me what’s wrong with the replacement. He actually asked me “do you not like the phone you got at all?” No, I don’t like the replacement phone, but that’s beside the point. It wasn’t the right phone! So he escalates this up to a service tech who can give me more option insight and options.

Here’s the punchline. According to the technician who handled my escalated complaint, it is standard procedure to replace the Touch Pro with a Diamond in the event the warehouse does not contain any Touch Pro units. It is standard procedure to replace a customer’s phone, on warranty, with a completely different phone.

Does anyone else see the problem with this?

I now have a broken phone with all its componentry and a replacement phone that doesn’t even have a back cover! If I’m supposed to replace my Touch Pro with the step-down Diamond unit, what the hell am I supposed to do with the back cover, slap a piece of duct tape on it? Wrap it in Saran Wrap? Rubber bands?

When I was two years old, my parents gave me a big wooden box (looking back, it wasn’t really that big, but I was small, so I was impressed). This box had a bunch of holes in it – a round hole, a square hole, a triangle hole and a few others. Then they gave me a bunch of wooden shapes to insert into those holes. Here’s the test – if you can successfully insert those shapes into the right holes at the age of two, you might not grow up to be a complete moron!

Well, it looks like someone in Verizon management didn’t do too well on the box/shapes test, because here I am with a Touch Pro back cover, which is a few millimeters longer than the Diamond and in no way fits or locks into the back panel, and a Diamond phone that is completely useless to me.

I think it would do Verizon wonders if they added the following cognitive test to management candidates in order to assess their problem-solving and decision-making abilities:


All of my ranting aside, the Verizon technician was very helpful and accommodating. I was three weeks away from being eligible for a phone upgrade (which I was planning to do anyway), and we worked out a compromise where I get my upgrade early and they ship it out next day (which means tomorrow/Friday, because the warehouse was closed for the day when I called), and I get to keep the half-assed replacement phone, which I can probably throw on eBay for $20 as a replacement unit for someone else who actually has a Diamond.

This does mean that my total phone downtime will be nearly four days by the time all is said and done – Monday evening through Friday afternoon. I can receive calls on my broken phone, but with my screen busted, I have no idea who’s calling, I can’t return missed calls unless they leave a message, and I can’t receive or send text messages. So I’m pretty handicapped in the cellular department.

Bottom line: I still like Verizon. I like the service, the coverage and their phones. Their support staff are very nice (in store and on the phone), and they did try to make everything right in spite of their mistakes. They just need to replace Bobo the warranty monkey with someone who can make better decisions regarding how their warranties get honored.

Thus endeth my rant.