Give Verizon a Call. They Want You To!

Last Updated Jun 9, 2010 10:54 AM EDT

The total on our Verizon statement, which includes our Internet, phone, and DirecTV service together, fluctuates a little every month. It goes up by $3, then two months steady, then it's up few more cents. Seems to me that we're paying a lot more than we did when we signed up for this deal, but I can't remember for sure.

My husband files this type of thing in a rational system in our basement, and once I picked through the puddles left by our malfunctioning air conditioner drain this morning, I was able to locate the old bills easily. In a waterproof storage bin. (What a guy!)

When we first signed up for the "Verizon Triple Freedom Bundle," back in July of 2007, the bill came in at $121 for the first several months. Last month, the bill was $151 -- a $30 increase in less than three years. Aha! We are paying more.

And on the front page of the most recent statement was a note from Verizon:

We Want You to Stay With Us

You are a valued customer & we want to deliver the very best service & value to you.

Call us at 1-888-226-0799 to find out about the new ways Verizon can save you more money.

I decided to take them up on that.

I dialed in and went through the rigmarole with the chirpy-voiced computer. Entered the phone number I was calling about. Picked "billing and payments" from the menu of options. And finally got a live voice on the other end. Valerie.

"Thank you for calling Verizon. My name is Valerie. May I please get your telephone number, beginning with area code first, please?"

(This is one of life's eternal mysteries. Why, after entering my phone number for the computer, does the human voice immediately ask for my phone number again? Doesn't she see it in front of her?)

I told her my number.

"And do I have permission to access the account?" Valerie asked.

"Yes."

"And how can I help you today?"

"Valerie, do I have permission to record this call?" I asked her. I remember reading that if customers record the calls, they might get better service.

She hesitated for only a millisecond. "Sure," she answered.

What a letdown. She didn't even ask me why I was doing it. No room for a frank discussion about my right to record the conversation.

"Well, I'm just looking at my bill and wondering if there's any way I can get it reduced," I said. "When we first started with Triple Freedom, it was around $100 a month. Now it's up to $150. So I'm wondering if there are any options for bringing the cost back down."

"You can definitely lower it by pulling the bundle, but that's going to change your services," she told me.

"We don't want to change our services," I said.

"Can I place you on a brief hold while I see if there are any promotions or discounts that might offset the price?" Valerie asked.

Five minutes later, she was back.

"OK, Ma'am? I am seeing we have a promotion right now in the system, it would give you $15 off the next six months off your billing. Would that be something that would be helpful to offset the costs, Ma'am?"

Yes, Val. Yes, indeed it would.

Valerie changed my bill and assured me a $15 credit would show up on my next statement, as well as the next five after that. I'm sure there are harder bargains to drive with Verizon, but I felt placated. Ten minutes with Valerie saved me $90. Good thing, too, because that money is going straight to the HVAC technician who's here to deal with the puddles in our basement.

Got any suggestions on bargaining with utilities or other service providers? Sign in below to share.

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