Anthony Caruso wants a correct bill.
He ordered the Verizon FIOS “triple play” bundle — telephone, internet and television service — for his Morristown home.
“The installation was very professional and the services are excellent, but every single bill received has failed to reflect the $69.99 per month offer and eight monthly calls later — each lasting between 30 and 75 minutes — they continue to deny such an offer ever existed,” Caruso said.
Turns out a simple computer entry error caused the billing mess, and none of the telephone reps caught it.
Here’s what happened:
Caruso received the $69.99 per month offer in the mail in late May and he signed on to FIOS in June.
The promo offer was for new customers who signed on for a two-year deal. The written material said the monthly charge for the first 12 months would be $69.99, and the second 12 months would be $89.99 per month.
“The letter clearly states this price would be achieved via a $60 per month credit for months one to 12 and a $40 per month credit for months 13 to 24,” Caruso said. “Starting with month 25, normal bundle rates apply.”
When Caruso signed up June 4, he added a second phone line for $9.95 per month, and a second box for $9.99 a month. He said the rep, April, said his monthly bill would total $89.93 plus taxes.
The installers did the job on June 8.
In early July, Caruso received the first bill, for $176.44.
It was more than a little confusing: $470.32 in “Current Activity” charges minus $289.96 in “Specials & Promotions” minus $21.24 for a partial month. The bill also included a “Showtime Starz Entertainment Pack” for $16.99 and “Multi-Room DVR Package” for $24.99, neither of which Caruso ordered.
The bill also included a “first bill estimate” showing monthly charges would be $139.31.
“Very confusing collection of charges and credits,” he said. “I paid the full amount to avoid billing issues for my first payment.”
He called Verizon on July 29 to discuss the bill. Caruso was transferred three times, and a rep named Sandy helped. Caruso said she dropped the “Showtime Starz” package and applied a one-time $30 credit. Caruso decided to keep the “Multi-Room DVR Package,” so his future billing should be $104.43. Because of the overpayment on the first bill, the amount due on the August bill would be $43.21.
“I was also told I was getting $9.99 “Epix” movie channel free for three months,” he said. “The FIOS lineup shows Epix is included in my package, but I decided not to fight this.”
Caurso said he paid the August bill, but there were still problems. It showed the normal monthly price to be $133.63.
He called again, and this time spoke to a rep named Jason, who said he had never heard of a $69.99 bundle offer. Caruso faxed a copy of the offer letter to the rep, who then recomputed the bill to reflect the correct package amount.
But the September bill was for $127.26.
Caruso called Sept. 7 and spoke to two different reps. The second rep also denied the existence of a $69.99 bundle offer, but asked Caruso to again fax a copy of the offer.
The rep applied another one-time credit and said the correct amount would now be $92.16.
This continued for the next several months. The bill would be wrong, Caruso would call and the reps would apply credits.
Finally in November, a rep named John offered to start an official investigation.
“He told me it would probably take one to two months for it to conclude and that I might still continue to receive incorrect billing statements during that time,” Caruso said.
Caruso did continue to get wrongly calculated bills, so he’d call each month, and each month a Verizon rep gave his account a credit.
When the February bill came in at the wrong amount, Caruso asked the rep if his case could be escalated to a supervisor. The rep agreed, saying someone would call in the next 48 hours.
No call, so Caruso decided to call Bamboozled.
WHAT WENT WRONG
We reached out to Tom Maguire, a senior vice president for Verizon who’s come through for Bamboozled readers in the past.
In a few hours, Maguire’s team got to the bottom of the billing errors.
“The order was not written up right in the first place,” he said.
Instead of entering a two-year deal with a starting price of $69.99, the first rep entered Caruso’s order as a month-to-month contract, which has a starting price of $129.99 per month.
So each time Caruso called to complain, the reps would see the $129.99 price because the order was entered as a month-to-month contract. Even when the reps would give credits, they were applied to the wrong starting price point, and that’s why the errors continued each month.
While the reps did all give Caruso credits to bring the price down, Maguire said the reps should have noticed the root of the problem long ago, especially given that Caruso faxed copies of his offer several times.
“The reps should have realized that he should not have been month-to-month, rather he should have actually been in a two-year contract,” Maguire said. “They basically dropped the ball from my perspective.”
Maguire said Verizon is working on putting programs in place to address repeat customer calls.
“This is designed to identify cases like this for intervention,” he said.
Caruso received a called from a Verizon escalation supervisor.
“She apologized repeatedly, resolved all my issues and gave me her direct phone number should any further problems surface,” Caruso said. “In fact, she quite generously restarted my 12-month $69 offer as of this month, effectively extending the promo by nine months.”
Verizon also gave Caruso the “Multi-Room DVR Package” discounted price for the life of his service rather than the initial 12-month promotional time frame.
“Many thanks to you and The Star-Ledger. You accomplished in a few minutes what had taken me many hours over many months,” Caruso said.
Bamboozled appreciates the kind words, but the real thanks should go to Maguire and his team for fixing this with speed once it came to their attention, and for doing the right thing for the customer.
Remember, we all make mistakes sometimes. It’s how we deal with the resolution of mistakes that really counts.