Writing Off Verizon

By Mike Johnson

When I canceled my Verizon account I had a $90 credit. Instead of issuing me a check, they sent my refund on a prepaid Mastercard.

What the hell?

Cell phone companies always make two erroneous assumptions.

That every customer lives in range of a cell tower and every one of them is under 20 years old.

A technology-challenged, retired geezer on a remote mountain is NOT their core customer.

Oh well, I thought, I’ll just take the card to the bank and have them drain it into my account.

Nope. No cash option.

OK, I’ll just spend it at a store.

But first, I was required to dial a number to activate the card. But before that could occur, they made me listen to the annoying card owners manual. This lecture explained all the things I must do to make the card work, implying they’d had lots of trouble calls from other refund customers.

Then I had to create a pin number. Now I have to remember it. And track the balance. And use it before it expires.

The hell with all that. I’ll just use it the next time I spend more than $90 at Walmart and get rid of it all at once. Which was yesterday.

Nope. The card wouldn’t scan in the self-serve lane. So it’s back in my wallet, unspent.

Well played Verizon, well played.

Basically, this is a big scam that dicks with us and helps them. Verizon gets paid by Mastercard for using the thing. Then a percentage of customers – either by the hassle or expiration date -- never spend the entire “refund,” giving both companies free money.

I basically had to set up a separate bank account just to access my own $90, which I had paid them with effortless, negotiable money. They refunded me with a scavenger hunt.

What if every Verizon customer did something similar when we made our payments to THEM?

Instead of paying online or mailing a check, what if we paid them with a note promising $90 worth of pencils?

Make them call our house to arrange shipment. Make them choose from a list of approved sharpen locations. Put a deadline on ordering the pencils. Run them through the entire activation mill.

“If you want pencils that write in Spanish, press 1.”

“If you want IQ test pencils, press 2.”

“If you identify as a crayon, press 3.”

Perhaps they too, would just give up frustrated and let us steal their money.

Which reminds me of that classic axiom, used by badgered writers for centuries.

A pencil can easily find humor, but an evil corporation must be lead.


Update: My buddy at Walmart convinced me to use the $90 Mastercard to buy a $90 Walmart gift card that DOES scan at the self-serve checkout. So I did. I'm still on the Verizon scavenger hunt! I hope to spend it soon!

Update 2: Spent! Good riddance!


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