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If Only FiOS Billing Was As Good As FiOS
Phantom charges and months-late bundle discounts...
by Karl Bode 07:02PM Wednesday Aug 08 2007
FiOS is deservedly seeing good reviews from our users because of the speed and reliability of the connections. Verizon is deservedly seeing praise for being the only telco with the foresight to see that fiber is the future. However, if FiOS has a weak spot, our users say it's Verizon's FiOS billing department.

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Customers tell us they're being incorrectly billed for service they didn't order, aspects of installation not performed, and channels they never asked for. While these users like the service itself, they say resolving errors is difficult and navigating phone support is a nightmare.

The billing anomalies vary greatly from customer to customer. One user complains to us that TV Poland mysteriously showed up on his bill to the tune of $18 per month. After calling and getting confirmation that it had been removed, it re-appeared the following month.

Another user complains about a phantom $75 extra PC installation charge. One FiOS customer tells us he's been charged for a high-definition set-top box he doesn't actually have going on eight months now:
"The big one to me is that they don't seem to be able to reliably correct errors when they are found. I have been getting an HD STB charge since the beginning of the year, the only problem is that I don't have an HD STB. Every month I call. Every month they credit me the charge. Every month they assure me that it is now fixed. Of course the next month we start the dance all over again."
The most common complaint is that users aren't always seeing bundle discounts they signed up for reflected on their bills.

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One customers says they signed up for a one year promotion where he was supposed to pay $70 for 20Mbps/5Mbps FiOS broadband, bundled with Verizon's Platinum TV Package. Four months have passed and the company is still charging him the standard price for individual services.

According to Verizon's Jim Smith, the company's current billing system involves some "complex billing system interactions" that require activations to sync up before bundled discounts are applied. "What matters, though, is that the discount always runs for the full period promised, either 12 or 24 months, even if it does not start in month one of the service" he says.

In other words, those of you not yet seeing bundle discounts will see them in time, and for the full length of the contract you signed.
Software upgrades are being installed mid-August to remedy this and to assure that for new FiOS bundle customers, discounts are immediate
-Verizon's Jim Smith

What's Verizon doing about it? "Software upgrades are being installed mid-August to remedy this and to assure that for new FiOS bundle customers, discounts are immediate and actually cover the promised period from service activation forward with no delays," he tells us.

As for the other erroneous charges, Smith attributes these to "simple data entry errors made during the ordering process [which] should be remedied with a call for help." That's probably no help to the user who spent 2007 trying to avoid paying for a phantom set-top box.

As it stands, FiOS support comes from special fiber solutions centers, separate from the call centers and tech support that works on DSL. Given the product's just getting off the ground, we'll assume they're just working out the kinks. "Basic order correction and adjustments can generally be made by the regular call center reps, however," says Smith.

Hopefully early FiOS billing issues are a small, soon to be resolved cost of broadband on the bleeding edge, and not a persistent headache.

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Tavistock NJ

3 recommendations

Why billing is screwed up

Most likely the issue is that their billing systems have been outsourced(don't know about Verizon FOR SURE) to some 3rd party(probably overseas). And I have seen 1st hand how this usually works. Verizon system designers(process engineers) and project leaders spec out a system. The specs are written up and then turned over to some outsourcer who hasn't the fainest idea about the business they are writing code for. Language barriers; not enough system testers; poor training on the delivered system all conspire to deliver a system that is frequently obtuse and nearly unusable to the customer service reps.

When the customer service rep inputs some correction for billing, he thinks the job is done. But the system is often so screwed up, the end result is a bill that doesn't go away or reappears at odd moments.

Unfortunately, this is now a common occurrence for US businesses. Especially those who have outsourced their most critical systems to the lowest bid contractor. It is a penny wise, pound foolish way of doing business.
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