Verizon has just started offering their FiOS service in our town. We’ve been Comcast customers for a long time and have had an adequate experience, if not a great one: While we’ve had a handful of problems over the years, their service people have been good about getting them fixed. But I’ve been hearing good things about the speed of Verizon FiOS internet and we just found out that if we sign up for the service, our parish school will get a donation from Verizon. In addition, over the past couple of days we’ve been experiencing some terrible internet slowdowns in the evenings to the point where it’s unusable. That’s been enough to encourage me to look into Verizon seriously.
This afternoon I went on to their website to see what they had to offer. Their FiOS Double Play looks like a good deal: Internet and HD-TV for $70 per month for the first 6 months and then $80 for months 7-12, plus about $10 per month for a DVR. (We don’t have a landline, relying on Google Voice and our iPhones.) But what will we pay after 12 months? Verizon offers a Live Chat widget on their site, so I thought it would be simple just to ask. What I got was a frustrating experience with either a smart but limited bot, a simple-minded customer service representative, or a slavishly script-following drone:
Verizon Service Representative will be with you shortly. Thank you. (14:52:14)
Agent Yardly has joined. (14:52:16)
Yardly : Chat ID for this session is 02131124191. (14:52:16)
Yardly(14:52:16): Welcome to Verizon Online Sales Support! Thank you for choosing Verizon. What services may I help you learn more about today?
You(14:53:00): If I get the FIOS Double Play with a regular HD DVR (not multi-room), what would be my monthly bill in the 13th month, after the promotional period ends?
Yardly(14:53:30): I will be happy to help you with that.
Yardly(14:55:25): We have FIOS tv and internet bundle starting with $ 69.99 for 6 months and $ 79.99 for 7-12 months. you will get 1 HDDVR FREE for 3 months.After 3 months it will cost $ 15.99/mo.
You(14:56:20): Yes, I know about the promotional deal, but what will be my bill after the deal expires? What is the regular price?
Yardly(14:58:45): I certainly understand; however, the future prices have not yet been decided. You will be informed via email once they have been confirmed. You will also get an email 30 days prior to the end of your service period. It will include the prices and promotions for the coming year.
You(14:59:55): I understand that you can’t guarantee what future rates will be. Let’s try this another way: What would I pay today if my promotional period just ended? I just need to have a ballpark estimate to put me over the top to signing up for the service.
Yardly(15:00:35): We have FIOS bundles with month to month without any contract and you will get 1 year price guarantee.
You(15:02:10): Ok that’s great. So I get the bundle pricing one year at a time? What is the current month-to-month bundle for current customers, not new customers?
Yardly(15:03:30): Suppose if you were an existing customer,I would recommend you to call Verizon business office as online due to security reasons we do not have an access to customers database.
Yardly(15:07:00): I have not heard from you for a few moments.
You(15:07:20): I think I’m all set now. Thanks anyway.
Worse than useless. I’m a potential customer who was just frustrated to the point of re-considering whether I want to go through with the hassle of switching. Verizon could have just put this information on their website in the first place, which would have been the ideal, but at least once I started asking one of their employees directly I should have received a straight answer. In their effort to avoid “scaring me away” by their real pricing, which is probably about what I’m paying Comcast now anyway, they may have just lost the sale.
A good lesson for anyone who’s trying to “sell” anything, whether it’s an actual sale, or an ask for a donation, or even evangelizing your faith: If the buyer jumps right to the bottom line, don’t insult and frustrate him with obfuscation. Maybe he’s ready to do the deal. Or as the old salesman’s maxim says, “Don’t sell past the close.”
Photo by demandaj - http://flic.kr/p/9d6qTa