My husband and I have been Verizon Wireless customers for over 5 years. We’re not the type of people who clamor to have the newest phones but we do use Smartphones to keep in contact with our family and to support the various online activities we pursue. We don’t need to have the newest phones but we do need reliable service and an internet-connected phone.
We currently have three smartphones (each is an iPhone 4s) and a standard phone on our plan. Jason and I have been eligible for an upgrade for about a year but hadn’t used it. When we found out Verizon was offering a free iPhone 6 in exchange for trading in a 4s we decided to go that route.
But it didn’t work out. Why? Because it turns out you have to order mailing materials to trade in the 4s (which you have to do by 10/15, by the way, and good luck finding the link to do so on their website! In the event you want the link it’s https://www.trade-in.vzw.com/home.php5) and then you have to order the 6 model you want. As of 10/14/2014 our local store told us delivery would be 10/31. You need to pay the upgrade price for the new phones ($220 each, $200 for the phone and $20 upgrade and set-up fee) and then you have until Dec. 31, 2014 to exchange the old phone. If the old phone is in pristine condition you’ll get a $200 Verizon gift card in the mail 4-6 weeks later. If the old phone has any damage you’ll get a gift card for $10-85 4-6 weeks later.
OK, but that isn’t what this story is about.
No, see, when we realized the “free” phones would cost us $440 up front with only a potential of $400 being refunded we decided to upgrade to something else. So, naturally we hopped over to the Verizon Wireless website.
After browsing for a bit we decided to use our upgrades on two iPhone 5 16 gb models (not 5s, not 5c, just plain old 5). They were listed as $.99 for factory recertified models. Great! That’s the price we wanted and a model that is acceptable for our needs.
So I logged into our account and looked for the phone to add it to my cart, it was nowhere to be found. I could see a 5c and a 5s, but no $.99 5. I opened a chat window with a customer service rep, I should have saved the conversation but I didn’t. Her name started with an N and was unique.
Anyhow, so the conversation went a little like this:
me: I saw an iphone 5 for $.99 on the website and I want to order two but I can’t find them
her: we no longer sell that model
me: It was on your website 10 minutes ago
her: we do sell the iPhone 5, it’s $29.99, but we’re sold out. Here is a link to the product.
me: 10 minutes ago it was available and only $.99
her: prices are subject to change at any time
me: seriously? in 10 minutes on a Monday evening? Forget it. I’ll explore other options.
her: I understand your frustration. Have a nice evening. Please fill out the customer service satisfaction survey.
In my frustration I logged out of my account, I imagined myself slamming down the telephone receiver as I did so.
And look what I saw…
(fyi, the screenshots below are from 10/15/14, a day after my initial conversation with Verizon. I didnt take screenshots at the time but I was able to recreate the entire experience a day later! Click to enlarge)
Hot darn, there is the phone I want. It’s available for me to put in my cart and it’s $.99
NOT COOL VERIZON. Not. cool.
So did I manage to order the iPhone 5 for $.99? You bet I did.
I logged out of my account and refreshed the page. I found the phone and added two to my cart. I was then prompted to log in, which I did, and then I was able to assign each phone to an available upgrade.
The phones were shipped this morning and should be in my hands tomorrow.
You know, in all our years as a customer I’ve defended Verizon from the haters. We’ve never had a dropped call, we’ve always had service, they let us hang onto our unlimited data for years after they did away with it, and the price has always been comparable (better, actually) than other providers.
I was so disappointed when I realized that Verizon was using this awful bait & switch technique. I have stayed a Verizon Wireless customer for the reasons mentioned above, and because I was able to get the phone I wanted for the price I wanted…but I wanted to let the entire world know what I experienced so they don’t fall prey to the same tactic.
I was not asked to input a zip code. The phone was available unless I was logged in. I was able to order the phone by putting it into my cart before logging in.
Regardless, now that I have let the internet world know what to look for I can rest. And enjoy my new phone when it arrives!