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Old School: Companies That Still Just Don’t Get It

This level of cluelessness just amazes me.
Jun | 28 | 2010

Jun | 28 | 2010

Sometimes, it just amazes me that so many companies are old school, and not in the good Will Ferrell movie sort of way. I’m talking about the “we don’t care about our customers because they have no place to go” kind of way. I’m talking about the companies that:

  • don’t do what you pay them to do
  • don’t acknowledge when they’ve made a mistake or caused you an inconvenience
  • make you call interminable 1-800 numbers and explain the situation again and again
  • don’t fix the problem after you wait for them to come by to do just that
  • don’t apologize for the inconvenience
  • don’t offer to do the right thing by way of a credit or some other accommodation


A few months ago, I railed against Comcast for what incredibly poor performance for Internet and VOIP service. After many phone calls and tweets, at least Comcast finally responded. While the problems have persisted to some extent over the last few months, at least the company has tried to do the right things. I received a number of credits to my account (equivalent to a few free months), multiple apologies, and calls from supervisors.

Well, at the risk of sounding like Dennis Miller, Verizon makes Comcast look like Zappos. (So the reference isn’t completely lost on you, Zappos is a company renowned for its customer service.)

I’ll spare you as many of the irritating details of this exchange as possible. For the last few months, I’ve had problems with my land line. Verizon ostensibly fixed the problem last week but, as I’ve told their reps on the phone multiple times (not that they can hear me), the problem remains. A supervisor offered me a credit of $4 for my trouble. That’s $4 American.

No, I’m not making this up.

I’ve been assured from the not-so-soothing recorded messages that a Verizon robot leaves in my voice mail that “they’re aware of the problem and are working on it.” Needless to say, after listening to these messages, I have to call a 1-800 number to talk to someone and get on a queue. Evidently, a call from a human being is out of the question. Again, old school.

After having no success with them on the phone (can someone say “irony”?), I took my plight to the web, as I am prone to do. I finally received a response on Twitter. My favorite tweet is listed below, along with my response:

@VerizonSupport – @philsimon ok, what number can I reach you?

Me: @VerizonSupport – I can’t direct message you because you are not following me and I won’t advertise my number to the world.

The problem remains and I’m already looking into dropping these wizards. There’s a reason that Verizon Sucks and VerizaRape exist.

Simon Says

The consumer is king now.

Forget Verizon. Forget my relatively insignificant phone issue. In the whole scheme of things, it really doesn’t matter to anyone but me. But I want to know how companies can continue to operate in this manner? There are so many alternatives for phones these days. In fact, I’m a bit of a dinosaur by even having a land line; many of my friends only use cell phones. With the exception of my energy company, I can’t think of a single vendor that I absolutely have to use.

My message to anyone who cares at Verizon: Get with the program. The consumer is king now. Your halcyon days are over. I am in the processing of switching back to Comcast for VOIP as I am write this. As bad as Comcast is, you’re worse. Much, much worse.


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  1. Jim Harris

    Please continue to hold…

    Your call is marginally important to us…

    A customer service representative will be with you shortly…

    If they hear laughter in the background, we can assure you that it has nothing to do with you–someone in the customer service department probably just told a funny–not about you, about some completely customer that we actually care even less about than you…

    Please continue to hold…

    Your call is beginning to get slightly more important to us…

    While you’re waiting, please allow us to explain our great new list of products and services, the development of which was paid for by all those meaningful fees on your bill…


  2. vinnie mirchandani

    Like you I gave Verizon a chance to do right on a number of grievances and did a bit better – got $ 100 credit when I asked for $ 500. So, last month I moved one line to Vonage. They keep persisting and they will lose my FiOS business also.
    In my book you will read about what the city of Lafayette, LA has done to bring high speed service to its citizens. Had to fight for years in court, but as customers we need choice and glad they did…now other cities should line up with Google and offer choices.

  3. James Standen

    Phil, I feel your pain.
    If you can imagine it, up north here in Canada where I live, its even worse.  We look longingly to the south where there is comparative cut-throat competition in your phone market.
    In the end, competition is the answer- and it will all work out in the end.

  4. Paul Saunders

    Thank you for allowing me to comment.
    Please press 1 if you want heart felt sympathy.
    Press 2 if you want to hear my customer (dis)service anecdotes
    Press 3 if you want an insightful comment about the state of customer service in old school companies.

    You have pressed 3…. connecting:
    Hi Phil…
    That sucks but doesn’t surprise me.  Any organisation that feels the need to have a “Customer Service Department” is on a hiding to customers ulitmately voting with their feet.  Customer Service is a culture that should permeate every area of a business like Quality or Value.  Old school companies tend to be stuck in their own introspective world of doing things without looking at how things are done in the bleeding edge of business and technology.
    Good luck on changing suppliers.


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