Is Verizon Wireless really as bad as customers say?

My wife wants us to switch from our current cellphone company to Verizon because they have a great monthly rate for two phones and 2000 minutes. I had an uneasy feeling about Verizon because of the bad reports from angry customers in past years.

I Googled "Verizon Wireless complaints" and got about 672,000 hits, which might indicate they still have a problem. One of the first  sites I looked at was which has 142 complaints about Verizon Wireless. Most of the complaints were about poor customer service and shoddy billing practices.

On the other hand, reports from organizations like JD Power, Consumer Reports, and the FCC rate Verizon very highly. So who do I believe? I tend to look at the source of information and that would indicate that customers have enough problems with Verizon that it would take a giant leap of faith to switch to that company.

"Consumer Interest" organizations are dealing with massaged data and are subject to pressure from influential organizations. I would not be at all surprised to hear that the wireless industry acted to moderate the findings of such groups.

When I see hundreds of complaints about shoddy practices, deceptive claims, and indifferent customer service, I figure that this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are probably thousands more that grumble quietly and do not know where they can make their complaints heard.

And what about the people who are happy with their Verizon service? I am sure that there are hundreds of thousands of customers who live in a strong signal area and never roam enough to see interrupted service. There are also hundreds of thousands of people whose equipment functions perfectly. For them Verizon is totally satisfactory.

The true test is what happens when something goes wrong with your phone, your billing, your service. This is when you see the problems behind the shiny facade.

I live in Southwestern Virginia where the mountains make coverage spotty and I work under circumstances that cause my phone to drop on the ground and get knocked about a bit. I have had to go to my current carrier and get replacement phones and loaner phones at times. They were very obliging. I don’t get the feeling that Verizon has the same level of customer oriented service.

I want to see if anyone in Southern Virginia has GOOD things to say about Verizon, their billing, or their customer service. I am only slightly interested in their coverage. It is the service component that interests me the most.

Any comments?


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0 Responses to Is Verizon Wireless really as bad as customers say?

  1. Carl says:

    SWVA aside, I can tell you that in the fine city of Alexandria, VA, right next to the nations capital, my Verizon service is about as crisp as the Potomac river on a stormy day…

    Seriously, as I walk about the city I go from bars to Wireless Mode Off on my Treo. Never happened in Herndon area of NVA. My wife is begging me to throw out either my Treo or my Verizon service.

    The verdict is not in, but I kinda think its the service from Verizon, not the Treo hardware.

    Good Luck!

  2. Eric says:

    I’m in Southern California, so I can’t speak to cell coverage in Virginia. But when it comes to cell phone companies anywhere, I feel it is a case of choosing the best of the worst. They all have spotty coverage. They all have bad customer service. They all try to screw you when it comes to billing. Pick your poison.

  3. Gretchen says:

    A friend of ours in Manassas, No. Virginia went to WalMart to get this sorted out. She found they are very competent reps for several large cell phone providers.

    She was able to compare rates and equipment and found that WalMart’s quoted prices for service were lower than those on each provider’s web site. They apparently provide customer service as well. We shall check it out and let you know…

  4. I used phones from most of the major service providers during my 23 years in Washington: Cingular (originally Cellular One), AT&T, Sprint, Nextel and Verizon. I found Verizon’s coverage and their customer service superior to all of the others, in Northern Virginia, around the country, and now here in Floyd County. On September 11, 2001, when the terrorist attacks overwhelmed telecommunications services in both New York and Washington, Verizon was the only provider that still had functioning lines. My Verizon-based phone and Blackberry were lifesavers while working the tragedy at the Pentagon.

    Verizon is the only provider that is planning to build new cell sites in Floyd County and the only provider that has data as well as voice service. Their data service works at 1x speed (about 98kbs) in the Floyd area but they also offer the 768k EDVO services in major metro areas.

    I can’t speak for others who report problems. My customer service experiences with them have been pleasant and have exceeded expectations, which is more than I can say for their DSL service, which we used in Northern Virginia. I can speak from the baseline of having used other services and found them less satisfactory than Verizon. I can also speak to the fact that when my livlihood depended heavily on being in touch with both voice and data communications, Verizon delivered.


  5. becca says:

    We have Verizon and moved from Northern Va. to Charlottesville and thought the coverage might be bad here, but it’s even better than in Norva. Only problem is we have to drive to Richmond or Harrisonburg to go to the closest Verizon store. Our son goes to school in Blacksburg and his Verizon service is excellent and I believe they have Verizon stores around Roanoke. There will be dead spots with any carrier’s service. We have been completely happy with Verizon – the coverage and customer service.

  6. Sean Pecor says:

    I switched from T-Mobile to Verizon Wireless this fall. I’m out in Boones Mill, about 15 miles as the crows fly from you fine folks in Floyd County and I get exceptionally good signal in nearly every place I travel. In fact the only time I’ve lost signal was on Ferrum Mountain Road on my way to Floyd one day and the loss of service was only for a short while.

    I do miss my T-Mobile Sidekick phone! Absolutely the best user interface for an internet smart phone to date and trust me I’ve used a ton of smart phones. Best keyboard too. But T-Mobile coverage is very spotty in Southwest Virginia.

    Verizon nationally has the best coverage. They’ve got specialized signal detection rigs that are constantly on the road with engineers detecting dead zones and flagging areas for tower installation. They’re your best bet, in my opinion. And Doug is right, if you manage to get an EVDO phone (I’ve got one – the LG VX9800) you can literally watch movies in real time with stereo sound off of the EVDO 500Kbps network.


  7. Marjorie says:

    I’ve been with Verizon for about five years. I’ve never had any problems and my bill is the same every month. If something goes wrong with our phones, they fix it! What a concept! During these five years, I’ve only had two phones. I just bought the second one last summer after I left the old one out in the rain. They’re good, but they can only fix so much.

  8. dave says:

    help stop verizarape

  9. Mindy says:

    I recently moved from Tmobile to Verizon. I have had Verizon for 6 days and I have had 7 dropped phone calls and it cuts out all the time. I was with Tmobile for 5 years and have had no problem. But I live in Utah, so coverage may be different.

  10. Risa says:

    I do not live in Virginia but have traveled with my verizon phone through Florida and North and South Carolina. Even in the smallest towns when other cell phones do not work my cell phone did. The recpetion is the best unfortunately the customer service and billing is not. My contract was extended 3 years without my knowledge. it would seem when I changed my plan they extended me without stating they would. I was told they did not have to. I had a large deposit with them that they were supposed to give back to me in a year if all my payments were made on time and they were. Verizon had made an error on my bill and customer service and I agreed to not to pay that amount since it would be credited and it was a couple months later. Verizon refuses to give my deposit back saying that I as late when it was their error. Their customer service is the worst. I believe them to be unethical to withold money and also extended contracts without informing the customer.

  11. Greyfox says:

    Most of you will just have to believe this, however over the last few days we have been assaulted by the lights of the new tower. A HUGE guy-wired truss tower. First it was a slow pulsing red light, last night though it became a white strobe that actually casts it’s light on the ceiling in our house about 4 miles north of town, near the Little River. The ridge to our south reflects this light off the wet leaves. It’s like low lightning.

    If someone drove into my yard and shone lights on our house we’d call the sheriff,
    I’m sure we’re not the only folk wondering what to do with this.

    This tower is a Verizon. The worst of it is we already had acceptable coverage, the coverage is universaly lost 8-10 mies north of us.

    If it would help I’d ditch the damned cell phone, alas…

  12. Alex says:

    A new cell tower went up last week here in Floyd County. Everyone seems to think it’s a Verizon tower, but it doesn’t appear to be active yet, as it’s a straight line from the tower to the school, and I still get 1 or 2 bars out of 5 in the school. I’ll keep you updated.

  13. Rachael says:

    I have never received such poor customer service in my life. The people at verizon are rapists.

  14. Joe says:

    There are a couple things that I wanted to respond to on this posting. Before I do so, I want to make it clear that I am a Verizon Communications Employee (55% share owner of Verizon Wireless). While I do not work with Wireless I do work in Domestic landlines.

    First off, in regards to poor customer service, when googling “complaints” “Verizon wireless” (note that the two are quoted to assure that the search is getting exclusively Verizon Wireless and not just Verizon or wireless) the hits are less than with t-mobile, sprint, and Cingular. Keep in mind that the total percentage of Verizon Wireless customers represented by this Google search is roughly 0.65%. So rather than selecting a provider based on Google hits, I would speak to neighbors and survey their providers and coverage results.

    In regards to cell towers, most are occupied by multiple tenants and not owned by the cell provider. If you are concerned with the height and location of individual towers speak with your local governing bodies. They are ultimately the ones approving the zoning permits. They have control over the height, location, and aesthetics of every tower placed.

    There are now options for disguising cell towers, here is an interesting link discussing them.

    All of that being said, I pay for Verizon Wireless service (with a 20% discount). I had AT&T before their merger with Cingular and was so unhappy I paid the standard $175 to break my contract and have not looked back.
    All services are not equal and change drastically based on your locations.

  15. Joe,

    Thanks for your comments. I would like to hear from more people with inside knowledge of Verizon.

    Verizon wireless service seems to rank with the very best. Their customer service is so customer un-friendly that it must be costing them subscribers.

    I would like to see them address some of the issues and bring their customer service in line with their wireless service.

  16. Interesting comments. I have been a Verizon wireless customer for more than 10 years and have received exellent customer service from them, both while living in Northern Virginia and since moving to Floyd County.

    I wonder if my experience is different because I’m a business customer and deal with the business customer service folks. They have been responsive, have issued credit for service problems, replaced lost or defective phones promptly and even waived early cancellation fees when we left Northern Virginia and didn’t need as many phones. I’ve never, ever, had a bad customer service experience with them.

    When I contrast my experience with Verizon with shoddy customer service from Nextel (now Sprint), AT&T and Cingular, I come away with a much different impression than what I see here.

    Guess I’ve been lucky.

  17. Theresa says:

    Verizon is horrible! We are currently disputing charges that were “taken care of” and now the account has been sent to a collection agency. They have terrible customer service and you constantly get the run around!

  18. Thanks for the update.

    That collection agency is savage, but they will go away snarling and empty-handed if you tell your credit card company that you did not authorize the charges.

    Good luck!

  19. Jackie says:

    Verizon Wireless has great phone service in my area (New York), but unfortunately, any time I’ve had a billing issue because of a mistake they’ve made, the customer service representatives have been incredibly UNaccomodating! I didn’t know a company could get away with having such horrible customer service policies. It’s almost as if they know their phone service is good, so they feel as if they can get away with being unfair to their customers. If you ever have a billing problem, good luck!

  20. Cheryl Biggs says:

    This is an email I sent to Verizon Wireless after a lot of searching on their site for the email link!!

    Dear Sirs:

    On January 29th, I called to lower my minutes on my Family Calling Plan, as we rarely went over the 700 min let alone the 1400. At that time I was told that ALL of my phones contract date would be extended by 1 year. It was our understanding that when our 2 years were up on each of our phones, that we would have the choice to drop your service!!

    We were NEVER told when we added the two lines in Dec 2005??? that because we increased the minutes we were changing our calling plan and thus changed the anniversary date of all of our phones.

    Your first CSR would NOT let me talk to a supervisor, and your store in the Clackamas Promonade was also no help or use!!

    I finally calmed down and called back your CSR ang got Ryan x 4406, who unfortunetly couldn’t help me, and I was FORCED into accepting ALL of our phones contract being extended by one year. I find this practice to be reprehensible. We in good faith have honored our contract with you for years, and this is how we are treated??

    My youngest daughter on the plan had to go with another provider because your features were too costly for her, so we were just making her line back to basics, thinking that we’d be able to drop it in July of this year (her anniversary date for the 2 year activation). At that time realizing that she uses the most minutes, we decided to drop the minutes back down to 700 (we aren’t changing the calling plan just the minutes). We are NOW stuck having to pay for phones we won’t be using for another year.

    My plans NOW will be that we will not be doing anything (no upgrade, no new phones, changes in service) for this next year, and removing us from your calling network completely after this so called new anniversary date is reached.

    You have lost at least 5 loyal customers, and hopefully more as I let people know about this reprehensible practice of yours, and the horrible customer service I first received!!

  21. Dino M. Zaffina, J.D. says:

    Attention Verizon Wireless Broadband Victims:

    I have commenced a Class Action lawsuit in California against Verizon Wireless for their deceptive advertising and business tactics regarding their broadband wireless service using their “AirCard.”

    If there are any victims whose service has been terminated in 2006, please contact me at and I will lead you in the right direction to be part of the class to fight back.

    Dino M. Zaffina, J.D.

  22. Rodney Williams says:

    VerizonWireless just sent me one of those notices I usually ignore- small type lots of legalese- but unless you affirmatively opt out of this new program, they have the right to release “Customer Proprietary Information”who you call when you call etc. What BS that they can do this without permission.

  23. Michael Gauldin says:

    I’m in Northern Virginia and have had Verizon wireless for several years. I’ve had no problems with service coverage but lately have had tremendous problems with their customer service staff. For some months I was bombarded by advertising saying I could save money by signing up for a texting plan. I finally did. However, I found that once I had the plan, every time I sent a text message I immediately received a text message from Verizon urging me to purchase other Verizon features. When I called to ask that these messages be stopped I was treated rudely and lied to. I have been waiting for two days now for a call from a manager to resolve my problem. I’m too old and make too much money to put up with service like this. I’m reconsidering not only my wireless service, but my land line and the FIOS service I just signed up for. Life is too short to be treated like that.

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