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Verizon Wireless - Complaint about Verizon Wireless (and collection agencies)
Posted on Friday, May 19th, 2006 at 7:11pm CDT by 887b71ef
Product: collection agencies
Company: Verizon Wireless
I've finally had enough of this company and decided to post here to warn people of what to expect from the company I refer to now as Verizon Witless. I hope people will, after reading this post, think twice about purchasing services from this company. If you already have service from them, well, consider this a cautionary tale along the lines of "it can happen to you".
I'm not going to go into detail about all of the claims I have against this company. There are many - they do a lot of things that I believe are illegal. For example, for some time the monthly bills were mailed to me after the payment due date. I think it was being deliberately done so that they could impose late fees they wouldn't otherwise be entitled to receive. I refused to pay the late fees.
My refusal to pay anything except the current month's charges led to their sending a notice, separate from my bill, in June of 2005 that I owed them money. I sent them a letter on June 13. I did not receive a reply.
On June 27, 2005 I mailed them a check for the monthly payment. The check, like all checks sent to them since mid-2001, was marked "Payment in Full".
On June 28, without any notice, Verizon Wirless suspended my cell phone
service. When I discovered this, I called their customer support office. I found out they received the check I mailed the day before. They were suspending my account anyway and claimed I owed them money. I cancelled my account immediately and told them I would not pay them another dime. I sent a letter addressed to the "Chief Executive Officer" on June 28.
Eventually, I heard from someone in their corporate offices - I believe her name was Ms. DeClemente but I don't recall for certain right now. I
exchanged several letters with her to no avail.
Since my check was clearly marked "Payment in Full" I feel I do not owe them any money. I also feel I do not owe them any money because the late fees they had been adding were illegal and entirely due to their own actions in the way they handled billing.
I have consulted with a lawyer and have been told I am on extremely firm
legal grounds in refusing to pay considering the check was clearly marked "Payment in Full" and they accepted the check without reservations. Under the law, by accepting the check they acknowledged that the debt was paid in full. If they did not wish it to be payment in full, they had to have either written something on the check indicating that it was only a partial payment, or they had to return the check with an explanation that they were not accepting it as payment in full. They did not do any of these things or any of the other things required under the law to refute the presumption that the check was accepted as full payment. As far as I am concerned, under the law, I owe them no money as of June 28, 2005 and, since my account was cancelled on that date, and they had already suspended my service, there is no possibility that any charges could have accrued after they accepted my check.
On July 19, 2005 I began receiving calls from their collections department. Until mid-August, they called several times a week. Each time, I refused to pay and told them why.
In October 2005, I received a phone call from someone identifying herself as an employee of Verizon Wireless. During the course of the conversation, I discovered that she was not an employee of Verizon Wireless but rather an employee of a collection agency called Collection Company of America in Norwell, MA. About a week later I received a letter from them. I wrote them a letter on October 26, denying the claim (which had now mysteriously increased) and demanding they cease further attempts to collect. I included a copy of my cancelled check. (An aside here: I believe that CCA violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act in several ways. For one thing, the law requires them to identify themselves as a collection agency when they call. But, this is a subject for another post.) I never heard from them again.
In January 2006 I checked my credit with each of the three credit-reporting agencies and found that Verizon Wireless had posted to Transunion that I had a delinquent debt with Verizon Wireless. Even after sending Transunion a copy of my cancelled check, they refused to remove the entry. (As an aside: I believe that Transunion violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act, since they clearly had knowledge that the information received from Verizon Wireless was false after seeing my cancelled check. Again, a subject for another post). Transunion did allow me to post a "consumer statement" which I have done. I thought that would be the end of things.
On May 19, 2006 I received a phone call at 8:22am. When I answered the
phone, I heard a tape recorded voice saying "Thank you for calling. Your call is very important to us. All operators are busy. Please wait and someone will be with you shortly." This message repeated every 10 seconds or so for about 10 minutes. At that time, a "gentleman" came on the line who identified himself as John Townsend and he was employed by National Enterprise Systems. He did not say that the company was a collection agency. He said he was calling because his company had "inherited the debt" from Verizon Wireless. He threatened to ruin my credit if the debt wasn't immediately paid. It was hard to get any information from him because he kept interrupting me when I tried to speak. When I finally had a chance to speak and began to explain
that I did not owe any money, he interrupted again, became verbally abusive and threatened to "ruin you financially if you don't immediately pay". He ended the call after that statement.
Later that same day, at about 4:55pm, the phone rang again. A recorded
voice said: "This is Mark Sutton with an important business proposition for you. Please call 800-925-6143." No other information was given. I called the number thinking it could be a recruiter since I'm seeking employment. I thought it could also be a telemarketer and I wanted the company name for a complaint since my number is on the national Do-Not-Call list. However, the number turned out to be for National Enterprise Systems. Although a recorded voice identified the company and said to wait on the line for assistance, no one picked up the phone on their end.
As of May 19, I have had *NO* written contact from National Enterprise
Systems so I cannot write them to dispute the claim. I believe the calls are in violation of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and I have filed a complaint with the FTC. The threat to ruin me financially is clearly an "abusive collection practice" prohibited by the law. According to research on the net, the parent company of National Enterprise Systems is a company called NCO. That company has a history of extremely abusive and illegal debt collection practices. See http://ncosuks.blogspot.com/ for more info. NCO has also been fined $1.5 million by the FTC for violations of the Fair Credit
Reporting Act. (See http://www.ftc.gov/opa/2004/05/ncogroup.htm).
Anyway, this post is about Verizon Wireless. I know I am not the first
person that has had problems with them over the very same issues: mailing bills after the due date, imposing late fees they know they are not entitled to impose, turning the file over to abusive collection agencies even when the debt is not valid, etc.
For what it's worth, complaints to the FTC, the FCC, and my state's Office of the Attorney General and other agencies have, so far, fallen on deaf ears. Verizon clearly has too much power and the consumer has none. The only power the consumer has is to take their business to other companies. I encourage people to exercise their power and take their business to another company.