Monday, March 14, 2011

A Phone Call from a Non-Existent Number

At 2:49 PM, the phone rang. No one was on the other end. Hmmm... Must have been a wrong number. At 8:06 PM the phone rang again. Same number and same silence.

Since it was a California number, I didn't want the three hour difference to result in another wrong number in the middle of the night, so I called the number back. I was was greated by, "Welcome to Verizon Wireless. The number you dialed has been changed, disconnected, or is no longer in service..." HUH? How can I be getting calls from a disconnected number?

With my curiosity peaked, I tried a reverse phone number lookup. Once upon a time, you could get this for free, but I quickly realized it is one more thing that has been monetized. Now you have to pay for it. Forget that!

I could simply block the phone number. With Verizon I get five free blocks, but why should I waste one on a disconnected Verizon number. They need to fix the problem, but before I called customer service, I wanted to do more research.

Next I tried typing in the number as a Google search. BINGO! As I when through the results, it quickly became obvious that I was not alone; not by a long shot! It appeared that not just a few, not just a few hundred, but probably thousands of people had, and are experiencing the same thing. Not only that, it has been going on for years!

Now I was REALLY curious.

At 8:42 PM, I called Verizon Customer Service. I explained what I had found to Brad, the rep on the other end of the line. I told him that I knew I can simply solve my problem by blocking the number, but that thousands of people were having the same problem and I wanted to find out what was going on for them and the thousands of others who may experience the problem in the future.

After I gave him the number and he did a look up, he told me the number appeared "Temporarily Unavailable", whatever that meant. We continued to have a pleasant conversation about next steps. He offered to block the number for me and created an NRB ticket on the number that would go on to the network people to investigate it.

I thanked him, but told him that I wanted to be able to follow up on the ticket to find out exactly what was happening. He said I could call up in about a week to check on the status of the ticket, and that was where I left things with Brad.

I plan on following up in a week, but with my curiosity now in high gear I decided to spend a few bucks and use to see what I could find out about the number. When I visited the site, I found that it would cost me $4.99, but if no results were found, it would cost me nothing. Expecting it to cost me nothing, I continued only to find out that there were three different results for that number, but no indication as to whether any of those results were current.

Not knowing whether the results were current ticked me off. If the results were not current, I had just flushed $4.99 down the drain. Hmmm.... That would be a nice way for them to make money. If you sell old (useless) information, it's not likely you would get no results. I wonder...

Armed with names and addresses, I went back to Google. I found out about what I expected; namely that plenty of other people had spent money to find out who was calling. The first question that popped into my mind after see this was, could this be a scam to make money for the companies that have monetized the reverse phone lookup? Something just isn't right here!

I don't know what's going on and I don't know if I ever will, but I do know that I am not going to let this die here and now. I will post more when I find out more.

Oh, and in case you are interested, the number was (310) 429-5382. Do the Google search and see what you think.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Sirius... Seriously?!?

My new car came equipped with Sirius radio and a free 1-year subscription. It runs out at the end of this month, so I went online to renew. It was a simple process right up until I went to click the submit button. At that point, I began a journey into the Twilight Zone to the corner Frustration and Aggravation.

Since I couldn't order online, I had to use the phone. A process that should have taken no more than 5 minutes, took what seemed like a day and a half, but was actually just shy of a 25 minutes.

Part of the problem was that he had computer problems and had to put me on hold twice, but that toward then end of the journey. The thing is that this would not have bothered me in the least, except that by that point I was ready to rip the radio out of the car and hurl it skyward in an attempt to bring down one of their satellites.

From the beginning, he knew I had done everything up to the point of clicking submit online. In fact he was looking at my transaction online. Instead of simply processing it and change to an invoice instead of auto-renewal, he felt compelled to (or was required to) explain every detail of every option and every step to me twice, and attempt to sell me a new product or service with every other breath he took.

Had I not interrupted him at least three times, and finally ask him to stop trying to sell me things, I know the call would have lasted at least ten minutes longer.

Probably the thing that bothered me the most, were two hidden charges that got added on near the end of the process, just prior to his computer refusing to process my order. The first was a royalty fee that took the advertised price up another $30. (I failed to read the fine print in their offer.)

The other was a $2 invoice fee that they hit me with because I didn't want them to automatically renew and process my credit card at the end of the term. At that moment, I knew what the bull feels like as the picador jabs him in the neck with his lance.

Whether it be mindless representatives or mindless corporate policies that dictated the procedures I had to endure, I do not know, but they need to examine one or both, because, Sirius, seriously pissed me off for no good reason. They turned a satisfied customer into an angry one. That's no way to do business, seriously!

Update March 8, 2011 - Sirius Response

Dear Mr. Wolinsky,

Thank you for contacting SIRIUSXM. Please accept our sincere apology for the previous encounter over the phone and we hope that this incident will not permanently affect our partnership. Our objective is to provide excellent service to all our subscribers and our Listener Care Representatives are adequately trained to assist customers with the issues. We are saddened to hear that you were not pleased with the service you received, but we can assure you that our representatives will convey the Company’s guidelines in a polite and friendly manner. Please keep in mind that your concern is a priority and we value you as a customer.

We guarantee you that our team does not take pleasure in embarrassing or distressing a customer. All of our customers are appreciated and each subscriber plays an active role in the growth of XM. This issue will be forwarded to the relevant department and your concerns will be investigated. This will, hopefully, further enhance the service which we provide.

We are committed to providing you with the best in customer care. If we can be of further assistance, please feel free to send an additional email or you may contact a Listener Care Representative directly at 1-800-XM RADIO (800-967-2349).

Thank you,

Sirius XM Email Listener Care Team