FIOS Signup Not Remotely Seamless

In an effort to save some money and get some faster net service, Jenn and I signed up to switch to Verizon FIOS. A couple of friends of mine have switched and like what they’re getting, so we’re hoping we like it, too.

That said, one of the primary reasons a lot of folks I’ve talked to have switched is that they don’t like Comcast for one reason or another. I’ve only ever had good customer service with them, so the company affinity thing isn’t really an issue. The converse is actually true - we’ve had horrible customer service experiences with Verizon, so switching, for us, is really taking a risk customer-service-wise.

Unfortunately, thus far, I’ve not been proven wrong. Even signing up was a tiring, painful experience.

(Note: Responsibility in our house is structured such that Jenn is in charge of phone, TV, and internet service, so the experience explained here was primarily hers. I was sitting right there, but it was Jenn the whole thing actually happened to, not me. I can’t imagine that it’d have been any different had it been me except there might have been more cussing.)

We started on the Verizon web site, trying to sign up for their phone/TV/internet combo deal. We’d have called, but there’s an internet-only special that they say you can only get if you sign up online. We got all the way to the confirmation stage when the phone portion of things blocked us - we couldn’t keep our phone number if we signed up online. Unacceptable. When we signed up for Comcast Digital Voice, it was a seamless experience - they took care of everything.

Jenn got into an online chat with a service rep who was absolutely no help. He reiterated that you have to sign up online or you won’t get the discount. He also maintained that they had no way to transfer phone numbers that weren’t already under Verizon control, so we’d be forced to choose a new number. Local number portability tells me otherwise.

As part of the rep’s helpful “chat,” he sent Jenn various links that, when you follow them, actually get you to run through the entire sign-up process again. She must have filled out the online form like five times and no true help (beyond the copy/paste form letter sort of chat from the online rep) was forthcoming.

Time for a phone call. We called Verizon to find out what was going on and let them know about the number portability thing. The phone rep insisted that you have to sign up online to get the discount but that one thing you could do is cancel your current phone service, get a confirmation number of some sort, and when the Verizon phone service started up, you could provide this confirmation number and keep your original phone number. That, of course, means that between the time you cancel your original phone service and the time they start the Verizon service (which could be a couple of weeks out), you don’t have a phone. Again, unacceptable. The other option we had was to register online for just internet and TV service and add the phone service later - part of the “cutover window” problem was, apparently, that they would have to run lines to our house and for some reason couldn’t run lines and cut our phone over on the same day. (Yeah, it sounded like a line of crap to me, too.)

By this time we were getting pretty frustrated with the whole thing. We wanted the bundle discount that you “only get when signing up online” but the online form wasn’t flexible enough to allow us the options we needed. There was also absolutely no help forthcoming for us on how to keep our original phone number. Jenn decided to take the route the phone rep suggested and just get net and TV service through the online form and sign up for phone later.

She filled out the form again and got to the payment screen. She filled out the payment info… and it wouldn’t accept the credit card. In fact, it wouldn’t accept any credit cards - not mine, not hers. We tried like five different (working) cards.

In a moment of last minute desperation, we placed one more phone call to Verizon. Make it or break it time - they either solve everything right now, or we’re sticking with Comcast.

This time we actually got a representative who knew what she was talking about. You don’t actually need to sign up online to get the discount. After a little conversation, we got exactly what we were hoping for to begin with - a full service conversion to Verizon services and we get to keep our phone number. No cutover window where we’ll be without service. The way it should have been to start with.

All of this took between two and three hours to get through. Two phone calls and two online chat sessions. Navigation around a nearly-impossible-to-use site with not enough options. It reminded me a lot of my recent chats with Xbox Support.

We’re signed up and we should be getting converted over on February 9. I really hope this wasn’t a sign of things to come. The reason we didn’t have Verizon phone in the first place was the poor customer service and they haven’t proven us wrong yet during this attempt to sign up. You would think the signup process - the process where a customer is literally waving money at you, asking you to take it - would be absolutely seamless. I mean, if they can’t get the signup process right, what happens when I actually have a problem?