Yes, I’ll admit it: I make mistakes. And yes, sometimes my clients make mistakes. But most of the time, Verizon simply compounds them. Here’s one recent nightmare experience.

A client called and told me she was having trouble getting Wi-Fi on her phone. I asked her to reboot her Verizon modem, and if that didn’t fix it, to call Verizon. My expectation was they would identify any Wi-Fi problem.

Mistake number one: Mine, for not asking if any other Wi-Fi devices she had were working. I forgot she also had a tablet — and it was working.

When she called Verizon, the Customer Service Representative (CSR) looked at her account and said that her router was eight years old (effectively blaming the hardware) and arranged for a service call to replace it. My client, innocently enough, said OK.

Mistake number two: Hers, for not calling me back after she spoke with Verizon to let me know what happened.

Several days later, a Verizon technician came to her apartment. He removed her old, perfectly good router and installed a new huge device in her hallway closet. Then he went to her computer, enabled the Wi-Fi (which I had explicitly disabled when I delivered the computer a few years ago), and told her everything was working. Hours after he left, she realized that he had taken the old router.

I came along the following week to deliver a new all-in-one printer. Almost as an aside my client told me what the technician had done. I don’t know how many times I have to say this, but I will keep on repeating this forever: DO NOT LET ANYONE ELSE ACCESS YOUR COMPUTER! And if you do, let me know immediately.

I got over my anger and uninstalled the old printer’s software in preparation for the new one. I rebooted the computer, and… Darn it! The computer did not connect to the Wi-Fi. I tried every trick I knew, but the computer could not connect to the new Verizon router.

I called Verizon to complain and to get the new device set up as a wired connection. The CSR who handled this call told me that there were two fees associated with my request. The first was a $60 service charge to move the router; the second was a $99 dispatch fee to arrange the appointment with a technician to do the work.

Here’s what I told the CSR, “No! My client is not going to pay $160 to fix your mistakes. The first CSR should not have tried any form of upselling — that’s just despicable. (The new device will cost my client $15 a month forever.) The technician should not have placed the new router in the hall before asking what she wanted. And he should never have set her computer to use Wi-Fi.”

Mistake number three: All of them Verizon’s for sheer greed and stupidity.

“What would you do if this was your mother or your grandmother?” I asked the CSR. “Would you expect her to come up with $160 to fix a problem that wasn’t hers to begin with? In the spirit of the holiday season, let’s make this right.” Eventually, the CSR got a supervisor who listened to the story and agreed to waive the fees.

Another Verizon technician arrived a week later and listened to the story. He explained that the original CSR had also upgraded the old service to a new speed level and there was no way to go back. We discussed what options my client had — most were going to cost her significantly more money each month. He had a thought and followed it up. He told us that a network extender could use the old cables to connect to the network. He hooked one up, it worked spectacularly, and my client learned that because of a glitch in Verizon’s system, she wouldn’t have to pay $55 for the part. And I got to install her new all-in-one printer, albeit a week later.

Here are the lessons to be learned from this awful experience. If I don’t ask all the appropriate questions when a problem is reported, then that’s an item for improvement on my list of New Year’s resolutions. But if you are not technologically inclined (and that’s many of you), DO NOT take it upon yourself to go forward with computer-related changes without doubling back and checking with me. And I’ll offer my appreciation to the second Verizon technician who was willing to take the time to fix a problem others in his organization had caused.

Thanks, and safe computing!

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