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Monday, July 21, 2014

Verizon is a Curse on the Planet

When we moved back to the US from Jerusalem in 2007, we decided that we really had to get cell phones.  We went with Verizon, although I am not really sure why, looking back.  We probably passed a Verizon store en route to taking care of some other errand and decided to stop there.

We got the cheapest phones we could with the contract (flip phones, at that time.  Remember those?).  They worked reasonably well for our purposes.  Neither of us texts all that much, so the absence of a real keyboard wasn't much of a problem.

We spent years forgoing the "free" phone upgrades that Verizon offers because we didn't want to renew the contract.  I have no particular affection for Verizon--it's once of those big, faceless corporations, and I've read some unsavory information about their political donation practices.  I was holding out hope that a smaller cellular carrier would improve its coverage over time, and that we could jump ship unscathed.  The other issue is that we never fully settled anywhere, and there was always a possibility that we could end up moving someplace without Verizon coverage (you know, somewhere crazy, like Kazakhstan!).

A little over a year ago, our flip phones were on their last legs, and we decided--reluctantly--to get smart phones.  We actually tried switching to Virgin Mobile at that point, as they were far less expensive than Verizon.  Unfortunately, our apartment at that time was in some sort of a Virgin Mobile dead zone, even though a friend who lived not quite a mile away was able to use them successfully.

Anyway, this is where our current trouble started.  We ended up going back to Verizon, where we were given "free" smart phones (not true--there were fees that weren't made clear to us), and were assured that if we did move out of the country for work during the duration of the contract, we would be able to end our phone contract without paying an early termination fee.  (Shortly after we did this, by the way, we were hit with some sort of phantom Verizon bill.  I called to argue about it.  The rep couldn't explain what it was, but couldn't make it go away, either.  I ended up paying out of frustration, which is something I very rarely do).

So, in preparation for our move, Scott called Verizon today to ask about canceling our contract.  Guess what?  The fact that we are moving across the world, to a country not yet in the grasp of Verizon's tentacles makes no difference at all.  We have to either pay an early termination fee of over $500, or pay for a service we'll only get to use on trips back to the US.  Scott explained to two different reps that we were told at the time we started this contract that we would be able to end it without paying an early termination fee.  The first rep gave us some sort of bum steer to talk with their tech department, and the tech department said there was nothing they could do.

This will probably not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever dealt with Verizon, but this means that the Verizon employee who put us on our current contract lied through his teeth to us. And yes, we read over the paperwork, it was extremely long and needlessly complicated.  Plus, at that point, we thought leaving the US for work was a remote possibility--the sort of thing you ask about, but not the sort of thing you make a point of being one hundred percent sure of.

This, of course, leaves me venting about Verizon when I should be packing.  But if I can create even a little bit of negative publicity toward Verizon today, it's worth the sacrifice of time.


  1. Hannah, there has to be a way out of this! I have never had Verizon, but we did have T-Mobile. When we moved to Jordan, we were allowed to cancel our contract without a penalty when we showed them proof of our moving abroad - your employment contract could work, or a bill or bank statement you acquire once you are in Kazakhstan.

    Also, if you are taking your phones with you, make sure you get them unlocked before you go so they will accept a new SIM card in Astana.

    Good luck!!! This kind of thing makes me sooooooo mad, so I'm really hoping you can get it resolved in your favor.

    1. Thanks, Bridget! We're going to try a couple more things (my mom suggested we could visit a Verizon store in person to plead our case, and a couple of friends suggested using Twitter). Certainly, this makes me think that if/when we return to the US, we have to go with a different carrier.

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