In the 1985 movie, Brewster’s Millions, Richard Pryor plays a struggling minor league baseball player who inherits 300 million dollars, subject to specific terms, which form the backbone of the comedic plot. His character, Monty Brewster, must spend 30 million dollars in 30 days, in order to inherit the larger sum of 300 million. Otherwise, he gets nothing.
It’s a good thing Richard Pryor didn’t try to spend his 30 million dollars at a Verizon Wireless store.
[Disclaimer: I am an iPhone user who is very happy with my device, fairly happy with AT&T’s customer service and slightly less happy with the network coverage. Since switching over, I try to avoid Verizon stores at all costs but occasionally agree to assist friends & family members and find myself back in a Verizon store, the fifth ring of customer service hell.]
Every time I have been to a Verizon store, (sample size = 14 stores across Minneapolis, Boston, Philadelphia, San Diego and New York), I was queued up for help on their visible in-store digital wait list. I’m sure this was the concoction of some overpaid, misguided marketing team. “Let’s display our customers’ names, in order, on a big screen. Then they’ll know how long they have to wait! Brilliant!”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of transparency. The problem isn’t the screen. It’s the pace at which customers are helped. There is zero correlation between your slot on the list and when you get the chance to speak to a Verizon employee. I have been added to the list in the second spot and still waited over 45 minutes for help.
If I have to call a customer service line and I’m placed on hold, the wait is infinitely more bearable if the phone system tells me, “your call will be answered in approximately 8 minutes.” Great. Now I can go make a sandwich.
If Verizon is only organized to deal with such a limited number of customers, they should put their stores in caves high in the mountains and dress the associates in red and black robes.
The other night, we just wanted to buy a new handset. It should have been the simplest of transactions. Instead, we were stuck waiting, digitally immortalized in the “sales” queue. Sales queue! Oh, the irony. Even if I was Richard Pryor, sitting with a briefcase full of cash, jumping up and down, screaming that I wanted to buy every outdated phone in the store at full price, Verizon didn’t care. I wasn’t going to be helped before Kristen J. and Thomas D.
We waited 35 minutes and then left.
Hey Verizon….can you hear me now?