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Qwest: The saga that will not end

The Qwest b.s. simply will not die!

As you’ll recall, in the last episode I received a nasty form letter claiming the credit union bounced a payment (it did not) and threatening to shut off my phone service. In the ensuing call to Qworst, customer disservice representative “Brad” told me this was fixed and my bill should revert to the normal amount, around $86.

Yesterday, I opened the monthly phone bill to find a gouge for $169.03! Further examination revealed that the cost for phone service had jumped from August’s amount of $26.72 to $43.15; Internet service was jacked up from $29.99 to $89.98!!

So, with my tape recorder running (having learned from “Brad” that the recorded voice’s claim that Qwest records your conversations with its reps is not true in 99% of calls), this morning I call back again and reach one “Alex.” He is obsequiously apologetic and, when he hears the reprise of the endless story, he decides he needs someone in authority and puts me on hold while he tries to reach the “Loyalty Department.” (Yes. That’s what he called it.)

A while later he comes back online and says he himself has been on hold. He disappears again. A few minutes later, he comes back on the phone to report he still can’t get past the hold button but on reading my bill he thinks a $108.29 credit was issued on 10/16 and I should have been billed only $69.03. He says I’ll be credited for the overcharge next month.

I say I can’t afford a $170 bill this month. He says he’ll have to go to the collections department to get the overcharge removed from this month’s bill…then he notices the $108.29 credit actually was applied to my bill.

I point out that the bill is unintelligible and it’s impossible to tell whether this is true or not (after all, look at what he had to go through to come to that conclusion!). I also state that I want the automatic payment from my checking account canceled NOW, and I will pay whatever is actually owing by check. He says he’ll call collections, stay on the line with me, and arrange for the credit to go through this month.

Then I point out the weird increases in the costs of “phone services” and “Internet service.” Now he says in this case he needs to talk to “Escalations” after all. He puts me on hold again.

Forty-five minutes into the call, I’m still listening to Qworst’s annoying “Get in the Loop” ad, endlessly looping.

Now someone named “Amber” gets on the line. She demands that I turn off the tape recorder, saying no action will be taken as long as the call is recorded.

Got that? It’s OK for Qworst to tape-record you, whether you like it or not, but not OK for you to record them.

She says the local service came to $22.64 with tax and that the apparent differences between the two monthly bills are the result of Qwest’s new layout for the bills—that magically, the amounts are really the same. This doesn’t sound very believable to me. She says $30 was added for a renewal fee for long distance—that I’m on a “membership plan.” I say no one told me any such thing, and that I had not signed up for any plan. She says I was billed that much last year.

Not until after the phone conversation ends do I think about the fact that Quicken is still live on my computer. When I check, I discover that no such extra fee was levied last year, so she simply lied to shut me up.

At any rate, I reply that $30 does not account for a difference between $85.99 and $169.03. She says I was billed for 2 1/2 months’ worth of Internet service because the upgrade in September was not billed at the time. She said the bill for the Internet service went up. I said I was told there would be no change in the amount due. She said that was “misinformation.” (Read: another lie?) Then she said she would return the service to 256K and backdate it, reducing the fee.

Scant satisfaction: I still have a ridiculously inflated bill I can’t afford resulting from a chain of events that started with Qwest’s DSL screw-up, entailed several examples of “misinformation,” and has wasted hours of my time.

This morning’s phone call alone consumed over an hour.

I called Cox, using a number given to me by a friend who claims to be satisified with Cox’s service. There I reached one “Rose,” who said that the midlevel Internet service runs at 9mb/second (if I’m not mistaken, that’s somewhat better than “256K”) and costs $45 a month. The phone service costs $20 a month, for a total of $65. This afternoon, when “Rose” arrives in her office, I’m switching from Qworst to Cox.

Qworst corralled me into a two-year cell phone contract about 18 months ago, and so that runs until June. As soon as it expires, though, I will let the cell phone service go, leaving me with a much more affordable phone bill. The only reason I got it at all was to have some way to call for help if I get in an accident or if my car craps out on the freeway; as it develops, all cell phones will dial 911 for free, whether or not they’re connected to a service. Not only that, but in many areas you can use an unconnected cell phone to dial a number and have the call charged to your credit card. The call may cost around $3 a minute, but that’s a far cry from $30 every month for a device you hardly ever use!

The Consumerist has published a list of Qwest senior executives’ addresses. I intend to get in touch with several of these folks and request an early cancellation of that cell phone with no gouge, given the gross mistreatment I have suffered at the hands of the company’s customer disservice staff. Interestingly, The Consumerist also reports a scam similar to the one The Josh pulled on me was inflicted on another woman. Apparently Qwest has a track record for this sort of thing.

Whatever you do,
Previous chapters:

Back Again—Temporarily?
“We Value Your Business”
Unbundled! Qwest Strikes Again
What Happens When a Live Qwest Guy Shows Up
Qwest Redux: How Do These Companies Stay in Business?

8 thoughts on “Qwest: The saga that will not end”

  1. … nope, still speechless … I am really amazed you stayed civil.

    That said, I used Cox for my two year tenure in AZ and was amazed at the customer service. The techs were nice and, best of all, the person you talk to on the phone is usually empowered to actually take action. Plus they have a nice tech support number where the first thing you hear was whether or not they already have a reported outage for your area (saved a lot of time). Totally unsolicited, they also sent a refund to my forwarding address for a few weeks I had paid for but not used. Returning to Charter back here in the midwest resulted in a similar “never, ever again” declaration. I get service through my apartment complex now, thank goodness.

  2. I gave up on Qwest in Phoenix years ago due to extraordinarily poor service. I’ve bundled phone with internet through Cox with very good results.

  3. LOL! It doesn’t do any good to get ornery with the poor troglodytes who answer the phones. They’re just wage slaves working in a truly miserable job, and the truth is there’s not a darned thing they can do about their employer’s policies. Sometimes they lie so as to crank a commission to supplement their puny salaries (videlicet, “Josh”); other times, as in the case of “Brad,” they misunderstand or are contradicted after the fact by someone else in the food chain; still other times, they lie to put you off or get you out of your hair (bringing us to “Amber”).

    Thanks to both of you for the good words on Cox. SDXB says that out in Sun City he’s heard plenty of complaints about inconsistent connections and Qwest-like customer service, so by this morning I was feeling pretty discouraged. On the other hand, if you google reviews of Cox telephone and Qwest telephone, you find LOTS fewer complaints about Cox than you do about Qworst.

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