Tuesday, September 19, 2023

Verizon Sales Channel Conflict Continues

For about 20 years I've been a loyal Verizon Wireless customer, mainly for their network and coverage, not their sales experience. Over the years, I have noticed differences between their phone, online, and in-store sales experiences. I would often experience different promotions and pricing between these channels and even between phone conversations with different sales agents -- even a few minutes apart from a prior call!

My recent experience trying to pre-order a new iPhone 15 with a trade-in shows things have not improved sadly.

Here's a recount of my "comedy of errors" over a 3 hour saga with Verizon...

Contact #1:

I started by calling a sales agent by phone. The rep quoted me $730 trade-in value for my old iPhone and the new phone would be $830. So it would only cost me $100 to upgrade to the latest iPhone. She also confirmed no changes required to my current plan with this offer. And I would have to pay sales tax and a $35 upgrade fee today. That sounded pretty reasonable, but I hadn't decided what color I wanted yet since I didn't really love any of the new pastel-looking colors and what happened to white? So I told her I'd call her back.

I also found out agents can text you their contact info so you can reconnect with them so they can get their sales commission from you.

Contact #2:

Shortly after, I went to Verizon's website to look more closely at the color options for the new iPhone. Since I was already on the site, I decided to place the order online. When I entered my trade-in info, it said "$830 for upgrades." But it also said "Promo credit may change based on other Unlimited plans." What does that mean?

Trade-in Screen

So I ended up starting a live chat on the side when it wasn't clear how much I'd get for my old iPhone. A live chat agent confirmed the $830 trade-in value. I thought great because that's $100 more than what Contact #1 agent told me, so I was not going to question it! But he said I DID have to upgrade my calling plan, for only a few dollars more per month from my current plan. If I didn't, he would offer me only $200 for my trade-in :(

Net net: Between Contact #1 and #2, I got 2 different trade-in values and 2 different plan requirements for the promotion.

Contact #3:

Confused, I decided to talk to a live agent by phone again. This time she confirmed what Contact #2 chat rep said: I would get $830 for my old iPhone and I would have to upgrade my plan. If I didn't upgrade my plan, I would get $0 for it. But the market value was $130 she said. I'm not even sure what that meant! Regardless, $0 or $130 was different than $200 trade-in value I was quoted minutes earlier.

She also said today I would only need to pay the $35 upgrade fee and the sales tax would be charged to my next bill. That's different than what Contact #1 rep told me.

I asked her how many days I had to send in the old phone for trade-in. She said 7 days. That seemed like a tight turnaround, but I felt I could handle it. 

So I proceeded with the order. I'd essentially get the phone for free and pay a few dollars extra per month to upgrade my plan. I felt like it was a good deal. 

Happy that I finally took care of this action item, I was about to move on with my day...until I received the email confirmation for my trade-in. The rep had ordered me a trade-in box for the wrong phone on my family plan! Ugh! So I had to contact Verizon again… 

Contact #4: 

I thought a simple chat session to change the trade-in order would suffice. Wrong! 

After going in circles for about 15 minutes, the chat rep said she couldn't just change or cancel the trade-in for the wrong phone. And said I had to cancel the original purchase order entirely in order to cancel the trade-in order because my order was already being processed. What? Processed? How is that possible if the new iPhone wasn't even shipping until Wed or Thursday?! 

Anyways, I agreed to canceling that order and starting over with her. What choice did I have? I then waited as she replicated my previous order that she canceled. Until she told me to get $830 on my trade-in, I had to upgrade to their Unlimited Ultimate plan. WTF?!?! That was an additional $10/mo higher than what I had agreed to just an hour and a half ago! She insists that was the only way, even though my prior order showed the lower plan. As we debated this over chat, she sent me links to Verizon's website with the trade-in promotion requiring Unlimited Ultimate plan to prove her point.

Contact #5:

Then I remembered how Verizon has had this channel conflict issue for years! So I called them a third time during my chat session. I got a really great experienced sales rep, who did confirm I did NOT need to upgrade to the Unlimited Ultimate plan to maximize my trade-in value. So I proceeded with my reorder with him and told the Contact #4 chat rep that I was talking to a Verizon phone rep who said I didn’t need to upgrade to the Unlimited Ultimate plan. Her only rebuttal was a request for the new order number so she can check it. No thanks! I don’t want her doing anything else to my account.

He also stated I had 14 days to send in my trade-in, not 7 days per Contact #3. (BTW, when I got my confirmation email after this call, it said I had 30 days.)

At payment, he said I had to pay the $35 upgrade fee and sales tax today. Odd because I had just placed a purchase order in the same phone channel and was only charged the $35 upgrade fee! Nonetheless, it was not a deal breaker, but just another example of the inconsistent customer experience.

New iPhone 15

So after spending 3 hours, I think I am set with receiving a new iPhone 15 later this week and the cost offset by my old iPhone trade-in, with just a small plan price increase. I hope 🤞 


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