Friday January 25, 2008 10:17 am
Our Verizon FiOS customer service nightmare: Why won’t they protect my private customer information?
Seeing as we’ve been experiencing a ton of customer service issues with our Verizon FiOS service for the past 8 months, we figured it was time to put out a warning to you guys. After all, we typically hear that the FiOS Internet service is remarkably amazing, and people have been dumping cable in droves when FiOS becomes available in their area. Hey, there is good reason to. Where we are at, right outside Seattle, our choices are slow DSL, Comcast at 8.0 down and 768k up, or FiOS with a max speed of 30.0 down and 15.0 up (which is the plan we are on.)
Now let’s be clear here, we love the FiOS service. It works fantastically, it has never gone down in the 8 months we’ve been using it, and it’s, well, fast.
So what is the problem? To put it bluntly, Verizon has shown that they don’t care - at all - about protecting their users private, confidential information. Now, why would we make a statement like that? Check it.
In June, a few weeks after getting our FiOS service set up, I decided I wanted to log in to my Verizon FiOS control panel. This is something I had done quite often while with Comcast. I like to see the account activity and just make sure everything is on the up and up. What was odd though was that when I logged in, it welcomed me by name and displayed my username, but all the rest of the account information was incorrect. It showed that I was on a different speed tier plan than the one I truly was on even - it showed 5/2 instead of 30/5 (my plan at the time.)
I called in to Verizon to let them know, because I wanted to make sure we maintained the highest speeds that we were paying for and weren’t being bumped down due to incorrect information in their system. The person on the other end confirmed our speeds and said there was nothing to look in to, and that it would likely just fix itself on it’s own. Okay, fair enough.
About a month later I went in again to take a look at things under our account page. Nothing had changed. I noticed a webmail link, and figured I’d click it to see if Verizon was sending account notices to that address. Once I clicked through, I realized something was very wrong. The email inbox that I was viewing contained emails that were not addressed to me. A few minutes later I realized that the entire Inbox wasn’t mine. I was viewing the Inbox of a totally different Verizon FiOS user.
I switched back out to the main control panel and went into the billing details, and realized those were not mine either. I had the information of someone who lived in my town. I am talking about their name, their home address, their email address, the last 4 digits of their credit card, and the last four digits of the social security number.
What’s more, my info was nowhere to be found. NONE of it! I was able to see, though, that this other person paid their bill like clockwork, and they were on the 5/2 plan. That is why that appeared in my control panel. It had nothing to do with it fixing itself “on it’s own.”
I hopped on the phone to chat with Verizon about this. After about 20 minutes on hold waiting to speak with someone, I finally got someone on the line and explained the situation to them. They didn’t believe me for some reason (as if I would just call in and make this up?), so I had them log into my account to take a look. Of course, they were alarmed, took down a bunch of information, and said they would make sure the appropriate department got the notes to fix it.
Fast forward two days, and there is no change. I call back and get a different person. They read the notes, confirmed their understanding of everything, and said he would forward the details to the appropriate department. I asked if I could speak with that department, but - lo and behold - they don’t speak with customers. Awesome.
At this point, I had him check something for me. I asked if he would mind logging in to the FiOS system as the user who is showing up in my control panel. He did, and confirmed my fears. When that person logs in to their Verizon control panel, they see all of my information! MY name, MY address, MY card number, etc. I told them I wanted this repaired within 24 hours as it was completely unacceptable to me. If this person wanted to, they had a good start at taking my info and using it for nefarious purposes.
I logged in the next day and found that there were no changes. I waited another day before calling back. I explained the situation the to guy who answered, and you could tell he knew this had to be fixed right away. He said 24 hours max, he would make sure it was fixed. Two days later, nothing.
This process repeated multiple times. I got tired of calling in and being given the run-around. No one could do anything, no one could connect me to the department that handles it (because they don’t take calls), and no one could even tell me if I could get credits on our FiOS account while they got this all sorted out.
After two months (yeah, you read that right) of unresponsiveness, I got bold and just contacted the person whose information I had. I just dropped him an email and asked if he had noticed the problem. I imagined he had not, because whenever I went into his Verizon inbox, his emails were all pretty much unread. I gave him the information that I had about him, and he wasn’t happy about it at all. I called Verizon back and told them that I had done this.
This time, the person said that this was unacceptable. He put me on hold while he talked to that other department - the one that wouldn’t talk to me since I am a customer. He went back and forth between both calls, asking me for more information about what I saw on my screen. When all was said and done, he said it would be fixed within 24 hours.
The next day, I had a message from Verizon saying the issue should be solved and completely fixed. I went and checked, gleefully I might add, expecting to see the change. Instead, everything looked the same, except now instead of the Control Panel showing my username, it showed the other guys username. So it just became more like his profile, and less like mine, and I still had full access to all of this data.
I called again two days ago for an update. This time I spent over 90 minutes on the phone. I started in tech support, was transferred to billing, then transferred to east coast sales, then to west coast sales, then back to the same tech support line I originally started with. This guy spent time looking at every single thing, also logging in as me and looking into all of the details that were different. There were a few instances where he didn’t see what I was seeing in my browser, which makes things even more odd. Anyway, he took all the information down and said it would be fixed as a top priority right away. Unfortunately, it’s been two days, and still nothing.
How could all this happen? Well, apparently, the guy who came out to do our FiOS installation back in May of 2007 was, at best, having an off day - or at worst, is completely and utterly undertrained and had no idea how to set up a freaking account. He mixed up our two accounts, and Verizon has no idea how to fix it, so instead, they just ignore it, hoping I will go away without them actually helping me.
So it’s been 8 months since we have had FiOS installed, and for that entire 8 months, my personal information has been freely available to another FiOS customer who I do not know. He lives in my town, not too far away. That doesn’t leave me with a comfortable feeling. Verizon, the company that should be protecting this data, seems to opt to ignore it instead. Every time I call, save for once, there has been no action on the trouble ticket. That is how “high priority” the issue is to them.
We will keep you guys updated on this. It is fairly alarming that a major corporation like Verizon would be so lax with the private information of their customers, especially when it has been brought up to their customer service department multiple times. We will keep chugging away on this, and hopefully Verizon will come through.
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