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Upgrade Plan Change - Fraud Bait & Switch


Last month I decided to switch from a basic phone to a smart phone.  My employer offers discounts with both Verizon and AT&T.  As I was no longer under contract with Verizon, my current provider, I first called AT&T to see what kind of plans they had available.  I was offered a free iphone, unlimited talk/text, and 2 gigs of data for a base price of $60, with an additional 20% employer discount.  I called the Verizon customer care number (1-800-922-0204) to compare plan options and here's what happened:

5/13/14 - Spoke to Marisa, customer Care Representative

She extended the following offer - iphone 4s for .99, unlimited talk/text, 2G data for $60 base price, 20% employer discount, additional 20% loyalty discount, and waived upgrade fee.  Additional costs included phone tax and shipping costs.  We were cut off before finalizing the order, so we had a second conversation that same day, wherein the details of the offer were explained again... $60 base, 20% employer discount, 20% loyalty discount, waived upgrade fee.

I agreed to the plan and ordered the phone.  Marisa told me she would call back once I had completed the set up of the phone to confirm changes.

I received the phone and set it up.  No call from Marisa.  I logged on to My Verizon to see that my old 450talk/text plan was still in place and that while my new device was listed, no plan changes had been made.

5/15/14 - I called Customer Care and asked for Marisa.  I was told a rep would have to email her and have her call me.  Later that day I received Marisa's call.  I informed her that my plan hadn't been changed.  I reiterated the plan details as she had explained them to me... unlimited talk/text, 2G data for $60, plus 20% employer, and 20% loyalty discount.  She confirmed all of the details and said she would apply the changes to my account immediately.  She indicated that I would be able to see details of the changes on my next bill and that she would make the new data plan retroactive to the beginning of my billing cycle to cover any data costs between my phone's initial set up and the final plan change.

6/15/14 - I received my bill where I was charged for the full amount.  No 20% employer discount was listed.  No 20% loyalty discount was listed.  I was charged for the full upgrade fee.

6/16/14 - I called Customer Service and spoke to Michael to correct my bill.  I was informed that my plan was not eligible for the employee or loyalty discounts.  As this was in direct conflict with the offer I had accepted, I asked to speak to a supervisor.  I was then transferred to Jessie.  Jessie informed me that she would email Marisa's supervisor and ask them to contact me.

6/18/14 - After receiving no communication from Marisa, her supervisor, Jessie, or any other manager, I called customer support once again, this time speaking to Tyler.  I was given the same run around and asked to speak to a supervisor once again.  This time I spoke to Kaylee.  Kaylee informed me that they would not honor the terms of the plan that Marisa, an authorized representative, had confirmed with me on three separate occasions, stating that Marisa had made the offer in error and that the contract I had accepted did not include these terms.  She also said that because I was past the 14 day return/cancellation window, I was bound by the contract as it stood, without any additional discount.  I asked to speak to her manager and she initially said I would receive a phone call within 24-48 hours.  I asked for the names of people I had dealt with and the notes on my account.  She refused to email a copy of the account notes or read them to me.  She refused as well to give full names of anyone that I had had dealings with.  When I tried to confirm when I should expect to receive a phone call, she now informed me that it would be 24-72 hours.

I was offered a plan by an authorized representative.  I didn't haggle, prompt, or ask for additional discounts... I simply detailed a competitor's plan and asked if they could match it.  The Verizon offer was explained in detail THREE times before I accepted.  I called immediately when things didn't look correct (within the 14 day window) and was told they would be fixed.  Then I was told to wait to see details on my bill, which conveniently arrived AFTER the return/cancellation window of 14 days. 

This is an obvious BAIT & SWITCH and constitutes FRAUD.  I will be awaiting a call from a manager.  If they do not honor the plan initially offered, I have every intention of taking this matter to either arbitration or small claims court.

Sec. 238.2 Initial offer.

(a) No statement or illustration should be used in any advertisement which creates a false impression of the grade, quality, make, value, currency of model, size, color, usability, or origin of the product offered, or which may otherwise misrepresent the product in such a manner that later, on disclosure of the true facts, the purchaser may be switched from the advertised product to another.

(b) Even though the true facts are subsequently made known to the buyer, the law is violated if the first contact or interview is secured by deception. [Guide 2]

Federal Trade Commission Act

Section 5: Unfair or Deceptive Acts or Practices

Deceptive Acts or Practices

An act or practice is deceptive where

• A representation, omission, or practice misleads or is likely to mislead the consumer;

• A consumer’s interpretation of the representation, omission, or practice is considered reasonable under the circumstances; and

• The misleading representation, omission, or practice is material.

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