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Bait and Switch

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Verizon Bait and Switch on Free Upgrade Phone

January 11th 2013

Verizon Wireless Store

A Florida Verizon user was stunned to discover that the "free upgrade" phone promised by the company was just a come-on. Once he agreed to accept the phone, the hidden charges and broken promises brought the price for "the free phone" up to a triple-digit expense.

The ordeal began when a customer service rep informed the account holder that one of his several phones--a basic flip phone used by a family member--was eligible for upgrade to a free smart phone. Two models were mentioned, the Nokia Lumia and the Apple iPhone 4--both free of charge. The only fee would be a $30 upgrade fee. Then the true cost news began to filter in, the monthly charge would be increased to $120 per year. Now the free phone was $150 in its first year.

Once the customer finally agreed to the upgrade fee and the monthly surcharge, he presented himself at a Tallahassee, Florida Verizon store to pick up the new phone. This was same store that convinced him in a long conference call with a Verizon customer service representative confirming that the Lumia phone was "free," after paying the upgrade charge and monthly surcharge. But when he tried to actually obtain the phone, the customer was shocked to learn that Verizon would not honor the free phone promise.

A quick call was made to a Verizon rep, Cameron, in one of Verizon's Arizona call centers. Good-natured Cameron said the company would not honor any such promise and his records showed the Lumia would cost $50 in some locations and might cost other amounts in other locations. When the customer demanded the promise of a "free phone" be honored, Cameron went to his superior and then the call was clicked off--and no call back. The customer then called again, getting Anna in a Verizon call center located in Colorado. Anna contradicted Cameron and said yes--there were free phones, but not the Nokia Lumia. She said the iPhone 4, and many more models, were actually publicly displayed as "free" at on the company's website. See here.

Hence, once more, Verizon Wireless has four of their representatives giving four different answers to very same question. But at least Anna was the problem solver, Cameron was not. The company continues its reputation as a nightmare mobile carrier.

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