No number of calls to Verizon (which said it was Optonline’s error) and Optonline (which said it couldn’t help because the Marcellos were Verizon customers) could correct the problem.Then Bamboozled got involved.
Batches of e-mails came in from other Verizon customers who were caught between phone service providers with similar tales of Caller ID foul-ups. Then Bamboozled received an e-mail from Tom Maguire, president of the mid-Atlantic area for Verizon. He wanted to contact the Marcellos to apologize for their experience.
“Though I am convinced that we did what we were supposed to, this does not excuse the fact that you are our customer and we should have worked with Cablevision to correct this issue in their system,” Maguire said in an e-mail to the couple.
Bamboozled asked Maguire to step in to correct the Caller ID problems reported by four other Verizon customers who contacted us, and he came through. Verizon contacted the telephone service providers, and together, they made the fixes.
Many thanks to Maguire and to Verizon for stepping up and doing the right thing for their customers.
Lawyers aren’t always right
A reader contacted Bamboozled about a billing dispute she was having with an elder-care attorney who was hired to help with her ailing father’s affairs.
The reader paid $4,000 upfront for 10 hours of the attorney’s time. Unfortunately, her father passed away several weeks later, and the attorney, by his own billing statements, had only worked about two hours on the case.
The reader was happy to pay for the time served. Indeed, she thought the attorney was very helpful during a tough time for her family. But once her dad passed and no further work was done on his case, the reader thought her father’s estate was due the remainder of the upfront fee.
After months of e-mails with the attorney, she contacted Bamboozled for help. But then she got scared.
Calling herself “a big chicken,” she said she was afraid the attorney – who she hired in part because of his strong personality and his apparent knowledge of the system – might sue her if she went on the record about the dispute.
Bamboozled examined the contract and had several reputable attorneys review it, too, and we all seemed to be in agreement that the attorney should return the fee for the unworked hours.
The contract specifically states that he works by the hour, even if the contract didn’t specify what would happen in a case like this. One might think professional ethics would dictate an attorney wouldn’t keep a fee for work that wasn’t performed.
Sometimes attorneys are right, and sometimes they’re wrong. Don’t let someone in a nice suit with a strong personality scare you into backing off if you think you’ve been wronged.
If you have a disagreement with an attorney, you can file an ethics grievance or dispute fees via the state’s Office of Attorney Ethics. Call (800) 406-8594 or go to judiciary.state.nj.us/oae. That’s what this reader chose to do.
About six weeks after Bamboozled first contacted the attorney about the dispute, he sent his client a revised statement showing many more hours of work on her father’s case. Bamboozled wonders why it took so long to show a revised statement and if there’s some creative after-the-fact billing going on. That will be for the Office of Attorney Ethics to decide when our reader presents her case.
And, hey, Mr. Big Stuff: Return the money. You’re giving lawyers a bad name.
Sears strives to make it right
Last month we reported the sub-par customer service by Sears experienced by Elizabeth Jacus after her refrigerator malfunctioned. Since the story ran, Sears has been making an effort to repair the damage — not to the refrigerator, which had already been fixed — but to its reputation.
Jacus received a phone call from Craig Slater, a technical manager for the Sears Service Center in New Jersey
“He asked me exactly what happened, saying it’s to their advantage to try to correct customer service problems,” Jacus said. “He also gave me his cell phone number and said if I ever have another problem, I should call the 800-number to set up a service appointment, then call him so he can make sure it goes correctly.”
Other reps from Sears also called Jacus to make sure she bought the backup box refrigerator for which Sears had given her a $75 credit. When Jacus went to the store, she decided to buy a slightly larger model, costing about $125, and she planned to pay the difference out of her pocket.
When Jacus checked her statement, she saw Sears credited her for the entire cost of the larger refrigerator, plus tax. Another welcome surprise. “I’m happy about it,” Jacus said. “No one did anything except say they were sorry until after you got involved. Then everyone stood at attention.”
One more postscript: After reading that Jacus lost a jar of holy water when the contents of her refrigerator froze, reader Elaine Mastropasqua offered to share her holy water, acquired from the spring at Lourdes.
Jacus and Bamboozled both thank you, Elaine, for your generosity.