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To set the stage for this story, there are a few things to keep in mind. One thing is that Mark and I’s oldest son Reilly is on a trip to Japan for the World Scout Jamboree, which is a huge Boy Scouts of America event hosting more than 30,000 scouts and leaders from across the world to raise awareness about global issues and make friends from around the world (check out our next newsletter for that story!). That being said, I have been a little concerned about how Reilly will be able to stay in touch with us while he is away...Japan is quite far and I would at least like the peace of mind that we know what is going on with him over there! The second piece of background information is that when Mark and I first purchased Union Colony Insurance Agency, we considered switching our cell phone service to a business account, but just never got around to it. The third thing is that we have had Verizon as our cell phone provider ever since we first had cell phones.

Now that you know the background, can you think of a time where you have been frustrated by a company’s lack of communication within their own company resulting in you having to be your own detective to solve any problem that arises? Well, then you can probably relate to this story of incorrect advice and countless hours of time spent.

As I said before, when we purchased the agency, we didn’t switch service to a business account with Verizon. Finally, 5 years later I decided to make that change, hoping that it would be a simple switch once I explained my situation. When I first got to the Verizon store, I made it clear to them that I was concerned about Reilly being able to use his cell phone while he was in Japan, and I was ASSURED that he would be able to use his phone while traveling abroad. 2 ½ hours into this business of changing over the phones, the salesman informed me that I needed to put down a large deposit. What? Then they told me they needed IRS documentation to clear up a mistake with a FEIN (Federal Employer Identification Number) that was apparently invalid.
                I went ahead and approved the deposit, knowing that I would have the documentation in our file at home.  I provided the documentation the next week and asked for my deposit to be reconsidered.  I continued to follow up, believing that I would be able to have some relief.  I found out that the info I was given was incorrect; there is an actual credit rating that is put out by Dun & Bradstreet.  The "light" file (not enough credit) was the reason for the deposit.  I called Dun & Bradstreet (who for a fee of $10K) would take care of the "light" file.  Apparently, there was a duplicate file because when we bought Union Colony Insurance Agency, we first listed our home address as the business address.  That address has no credit, therefore it was "light".  I was told from Dun & Bradstreet that I could work on correcting the duplicate myself but they recommended employing one of their consultants.  Who can afford all of this?  I asked my agent friends if they had ever had issues with this credit rating for businesses.  They didn't even know it existed.  I figured out how to do some of the work myself and thought that was that.  I asked the D&B employee how to correct the duplication of credit and figured out that Union Colony’s registration with the state still had our home address on it.  Problem solved, I can change that for a $10 fee with the state.  Then I can request the duplicate be removed and the correct number to be there for anyone who needs that number. 

Then I went to activate Reilly's phone for his trip.  I was told that because I had a required deposit on the account, they would not allow a foreign unlock on his phone.  Imagine what I thought at that point.  I had asked the service rep before starting if it would affect Reilly being able to take his phone to Japan.  I was assured it would not.  I then ended up paying a refundable deposit (they get to use my money for a year).  Then I was told that Reilly would not be able to use his phone in Japan (two days before he left).  All for an 8% savings on my phone bill (less than $20 per month).
What is my lesson?  Well, for starters, if you are going to change cell phone service, do it at the time of the billing cycle.  Another issue: because I paid my bill and the check arrived after I changed from personal to business, they credited the business account (so it had a credit) and started hounding me for my personal payment, which I could prove to them that they cashed my check so where was the money?  Unfortunately, I could not see the personal account on the internet (the account was closed) and could not see my business account (invalid FEIN number) so we were having some interesting telephone conversations.  I forwarded to them my IRS info and my FEIN number was validated which allowed me to see my business account.  I could not figure out how a credit was on the account as I had set up the account to automatically be paid by my business checking account.  So I called to ask why they were deducting more $ than was owed.  Then I asked where my check was credited and where was my refund from the closed account.  I finally figured out what happened.  NOW I realize I do owe the difference between the credit from the cancelation of the old service and owed amount.

So I request a copy of the last bill on the personal account.  It shows me the account number and the amount due.  I have the bookkeeper cut a check and I send down Reilly to pay the bill.  I have him wait in line and request a receipt.  The service rep calls me from Verizon and tells me that I do not owe the amount.  I tell him to not look at the business account, but at the personal account.  He is confused but I insist that he look at the account number on the bill I sent down there.  He said ok and that the bill was paid and I received a receipt.

One day later, I receive a collection call from Verizon.  I told the young lady that this is now their problem, I have tried to pay the bill three times.  She reassured me that she was able to transfer the payment from the business account to the personal closed account but it would take about 3 business days. Ok, I think it is taken care of... oh, and what about Reilly?  Well, we found out that he could text from my iPad as long as he is connected to Wifi.  We discovered that we can rent a hotspot in Japan for about $36 for 9 days (not a lot of free Wifi in Japan).  He assures me that he will be fine and I have confidence in my Eagle Scout.  I also know at this time, there is little I can do.  We looked at renting a cell phone in Japan, but really with the iPad, why?  So off to Japan Reilly goes.

Today I received another bill for the $ owed on the personal account that I have paid 3 times.

To me, the moral of this story is that I believe it shows the lack of training of the Verizon staff along with a huge staff that does not talk to each other.  I think it is a direct correlation to many things in our lives.  How was I to know that when I have to rely on the business to know their business that I am the only one on my team?  I know mistakes are a way of life, but I needed to depend on their guidance and advice.  What have I learned?  That I will continue to train myself in my own craft so I am not like the Verizon staff. It is important to have a person in your court that is able to perform well for you, follow up, follow through, and be trained enough to do the things that we are asking.  Everyone at Union Colony Insurance is an agent, we are all trained, we all attend yearly update trainings and those of us with initials after our names have to attend more trainings to keep the initials. We are doing this because we want to be the agents our customers deserve.

Posted 8:42 PM

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