Re: Complaint about Verizon "Free Tablet" promotion

Miembro

This is absolutely untrue.  What happened here is called bait and switch fraud.  It is illegal.  It's when what is coming out of the mouth of the sales person does not jive with the contract.  There are laws protecting consumers against these kind of underhanded sales tactics.  The problem is sales people like you gracecake who are so steeped in their own deception of themselves and others that you actually believe the lies and rationalize the tactics.

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Google "verizon tablet scam" and you see what happened to me and my mom, and what apparently is a wide spread practice at the Verizon stores -  which should be illegal.  We added a second line and a new iPhone to an existing iPhone contract.  The sales person Imani (Porter Ranch Verizon Store) convinced us to accept two free tablets.  He insisted they were 100% free. The whole think felt wrong.  I have never felt like this at a Verizon store before.  This salesman was like a shady used car salesman.  I was concerned, so I asked him if he makes commission.  He said that he does not make commission.  He twisted the facts around creatively as to appear to present the tablets as having no monthly charge.  We didn't even want the tablets! We have no use for them. When we got home, I reviewed our plan online and it turns out we are being charged $10 X2 per month for two years for these two tablets.  Less than 12 hours later, this morning, I returned to the Porter Ranch Verizon store to return the tablets, and they continued to try to spin ** about how Imani discounted our rate in order to pay the additional $20 per month for the tablets.   Per my phone  conversation with Verizon Wireless Corporate, this was not true and was just more sales spin.  They also told me that indeed Imani and the other sales staff make commission and are heavily compensated and awarded for sales performance.   So he lied to me about that.  Why would he lie unless he knew he was taking advantage of us?  Corporate told me that the manager of the store should take back the tablets and not charge me.  The manager refused to take back the tablets without charging us $150 for a restocking fee ($75 X2).  I refused to pay this.  I would have been satisfied and we would have kept Verizon as our carrier and kept the new iPhone 6 we purchased if they would have just taken the tablets back and waived the $150 restocking fee.  The manager kept saying my mom signed a contract and she would not waive the restocking fee.   My mom was totally schooled by this sales guy who causally got her to sign multiple times.  She's got poor eyesight and could not read the contract even if it was presented, which it was not.  She simply singed her name on a iPad like *** device.   We trusted that they were shooting straight with us.   She specially asked Imani, "ARE YOU SURE THERE IS NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE FOR THE TABLETS?"  He insisted there was not.

Yes, you typically would not sign a contract without reading the fine print, but I would not expect to have to look out for myself like that at Verizon, nor did my mom, a loyal Verizon customer for over 10 years.  The Verizon Store has turned into the Wild West of dishonest salesmanship.   I dropped off the two tablets and my new iPhone on the check-out desk after they refused to budge.   The manager insisted I could not do this.  I just left them there and walked out.  I am reporting this to the Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Trade Commission, the BBB, the Los Angeles Times and any other news outlet that will publish my story and I'm presenting this to the City Attorneys Office.  I am also going to do my best to spearhead not only a local public service campaign against the Porter Ranch Verizon Store, but also a class action suit against Verizon Wireless.  This is happening to a lot of people.  Look it up online.

My mom and I are just going to go to AT&T instead and refuse to pay the Verizon contract.    Now my mom's credit will be hurt because of this nonsense.  All she was trying to do was buy me a Christmas gift and she ends up getting taken advantage of at Christmas time.  The Verizon Store in Porter Ranch, especially the management there should be ashamed of themselves.

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This is a followup post to my previous post about the bait and switch "free" tablet scam being perpetuated by Verizon Wireless Store sales people.


As it  appears I very well may be moving ahead with taking action on this, I am going to post updates here as a way to document my progress and to share the details as to this situation.

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I've spoken to the corporate call center now twice.  The second time it went to an upper tier management level.  They are conducting an investigation which apparently involves them calling the Porter Ranch, CA Verizon Store to get their side of the story.  Yet I was told that ultimately the option to waive the restocking fee falls on the store.   They told me that the store should have just waived the fee, but they don't have control over that.  That's a major problem for me and opens this up to a potential corporate fraud class action situation - the fact that at the corporate level they are not stepping in to deal with this. I'm not sure that this "investigation" will be of any avail.  In fact, it may very well have just been lip service they were giving me over the phone.

Verizon corporate reported to me based on the notes on my account that the Porter Ranch Verizon Store overnight shipped the 3 devices I left with them back to me (!?).  This clearly indicates they did not take me seriously as to what I'm prepared to do.  It was recommended to me by corporate that I go to another specific Verizon Store nearby in an attempt to return the two tablets and get the restocking fee waived.  They implied that different stores have different attitudes and I may get lucky at another location.  Once again, I am not happy about Verizon corporate's inability and unwillingness to handle this themselves.  This should not fall on the customer to have to run around town right before Christmas to beg another store to comp a restock fee that stemmed from fraud perpetuated by a different store.  This is nonsense.

Thanks to some online networking, I was able to locate and speak to a previous employee of the Porter Ranch Verizon Store.  She went into quite a bit detail over this bait and switch scam they do.  In fact, she left the company because of the dishonesty at the store and the Porter Ranch store's management's support of the dishonest business practices.

Something I did not mention before is that there is a discrepancy on the sales tax that we paid.  It appears that quite possibly there was a hidden charge (tablet activation?) presented as a second local sales tax.  We seemed to have paid $35 extra for something.  I am not yet sure what this is, and I will consider this important and needing to be addressed, but secondary to the tablet issue.

I have consulted with legal counsel but have not yet retained them.  I may have to retain them if I file suit.  I have also been in contact with Birka-White, a class action law firm in Danville, CA as I believe this may call for a class action suit based on all the victims of this scam I have located in just one day.  It's shocking a company as large as Verizon Wireless has gotten away with this for so long.  I can only speak for California law as for now, I am only approaching this on a personal level locally and not a federal level.  I'll allow the latter to be handled by Birka-White if they choose to proceed.  As for CA law goes, here are the violations thus far:

(the following codes have been edited for relevancy pertaining to my case)

Business and Professional Code 17500: 

17500. It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association, or any employee thereof with intent directly or indirectly to induce the customer to enter into any obligation relating thereto, or to make any statement concerning services (products) which is untrue or misleading, and which is known, or which by the exercise of reasonable care should be known, to be untrue or misleading.

Business and Professional Code 17507:

17507. It is unlawful for any person, firm, corporation or association to make a representation (statement) pertaining to more than one article of merchandise or type of service, within the same class of merchandise or service, if any price set forth in such claim or representation does not clearly and conspicuously identify the article of merchandise or type of service to which it relates.

Civil Code Section 1770:

1770. (a) The following unfair methods and/or deceptive acts or practices undertaken by any person in a transaction intended to result or which results in the sale or lease of goods or services to any consumer are unlawful:

(13) Making false or misleading statements of fact concerning reasons for, existence of, or amounts of price reductions.

  (14) Representing that a transaction confers or involves rights, remedies, or obligations which it does not have or involve, or which are prohibited by law.

  (16) Representing that the subject of a transaction has been supplied in accordance with a previous representation when it has not.

  (19) Inserting an unconscionable provision in the contract.

Any violation of the provisions of these sections is a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not

exceeding six months, or by a fine not exceeding two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500), or by both that imprisonment and fine.

Most of these violations fall on the salesperson but the manager was in violation of 1770(a)(13), 1770(a)(14) and 1770(a)(16) when I went to return the tablets when she spun more lies about what went on, so even the management at the Porter Ranch store has directly roto the law. 

My minimum expectations are that the "investigation" that is being conducted result in the truth being exposed and that action be taken against the Porter Ranch Verizon store. That I be able to return the two tablets without restocking fees, and that my share plan be reassessed to be certain I am receiving a fair deal based on current prices and promotions.  If my minimum expectations are satisfied within 14 days, I will not declare war against Verizon Wireless and not pursue this any further.  If my minimum expectations are not met,  I am going to proceed with the following:

  • Return to the Porter Ranch Verizon store with a vigilante posse both to serve as witness and to spread the word in the store to other customers.  I will once again leave all three devices, refuse to pay any fees and walk out once we are done.  I will cancel the entire plan and never make another payment again, fully accepting the potential bad credit marks (which will be dealt with via legal action). 
  • We will take our cell phone business to AT&T Wireless.
  • File an official complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau .
  • Contact the City Attorney's Office.
  • Retain local legal council and file suit against both the Porter Ranch Verizon Store and Verizon Wireless.
  • Proceed with other law firms with the goal of launching a Class Action suit against Verizon Wireless.  Setting up an an initial exploratory online forum site for victims to register and share their story.
  • Work with the Los Angeles Times and other local print news outlets to publish a series of op-ed and editorial pieces about the wide-spread Verizon bait and switch "Free" tablet scam, with a focus on the Porter Ranch Verizon Store.
  • Launch an online viral campaign via social media sites to spread the word about the wide-spread Verizon bait and switch "Free" tablet scam.
  • Write an article regarding the wide spread Verizon bait and switch "Free" tablet scam and publish it at huffingtonpost.com, the verge.com and arstechnica.com and proceed to offer the article for free publication to any and all online content providers/sites. 

I will continue to post here the developments as they unfold.  Based on what I am reading online about their response to this issue,  I am not expecting Verizon corporate to step in and do the right thing, for me/my mom nor on a larger scale.  So as my family and friends are telling me, maybe I was chosen to be a victim and to take on this role, as I am the one that will not stand for it and commit to the work required to hold them accountable.

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