Letters To No One: Verizon Wireless
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It seems like just yesterday I was an unhappy iPhone user. My contract sucked, it was too expensive, my cellular service was as reliable as a prostitute entrusted to score drugs with my money, and the last software update to OS4 completely destroyed my phone. On good days, it took only 40-60 seconds just to open up a text message. Believe me when I tell you, iPhone 3G and 3GS users, the operating system upgrade will render your phone useless.
On July 11th my AT&T contract ended. With a [for all intents and purposes] broken phone, shitty phone service, and rumors of terrible iPhone 4 problems, I decided that the time was nigh to leave AT&T for good. Sure, Verizon Wireless hasn’t had a signal at my girlfriend’s house in three years, and part of the reason I ditched the service before was because my workplace was also in a dead-zone, but I was willing to overlook those crucial flaws if only I could get as far away from AT&T as humanly (maybe I mean cellularly) possible. Shit, I hated AT&T so fucking much.
One morning before work, on the day that my wireless contract was to expire, I drove to the nearest Verizon Wireless store and told them that I was coming back. The prodigal son was returning. Please provide me with a working phone that possesses Internet capabilities and some cool “apps” that could keep me occupied when I should be working, I demanded. I asked how the service was these days? Getting any bars in Echo Park or Silver Lake yet? How much is a standard two-year contract in 2010, anyway? What’s that you say, I can have one of those fancy smartphones I see science fiction movie commercials for on the tee-vee? That sounds reasonable. How much does it cost, considering the phone line I abandoned two years ago is surely eligible for an upgrade by now?
Two-hundred-fifty dollars? Are you fucking kidding me? Why don’t you just rape me with the phone? De-pants me right here in your little kiosk, in front of the customers buying overpriced “skins” and ear pieces so they can drive and talk at the same time, slather the little sound transmitter in jelly and insert it into my anus. If you’re going to force yourselves on my wallet, you might as well get my virgin asshole too while you’re at it.
Oh, you say there’s a one-hundred dollar rebate available? I guess that makes sense. Plus, I still have a few bucks left over from this year’s generous tax refund (Swan Fungus lost a lot of money last year, folks, so the IRS was very understanding and sent me a hefty refund — here’s hoping for profitability in the next quarter). I’ll take the phone. How long until I get my hundred dollars back. Four-to-six weeks? I can handle that.
[cue montage of me working, sleeping, beating off, crying, sleeping, working more, crying while beating off, and maybe getting a hit during a softball game]
An envelope arrived in the mail last week. I was careful not to rip into it too hastily, as I might have accidentally torn my rebate check in two pieces. Money has been tight this month, what with the $200 turntable service, the $280 parking ticket, the $250 car service, and the $250 cell phone (soon to be $150, but still…), $180 doctor’s bill (it seems my old chronic intestinal issues which derailed my class ranking during my late high school years have returned) and a recent rent increase have conspired to drain me of funds. I had a good run for the first six months of 2010, but July was an abnormally expensive month. I’ve been looking forward to this $100 rebate check. More so than my monthly blog advertising check, which hasn’t come for three months now. I searched through the paperwork for a check but I couldn’t find one. Then a credit card fell out of the envelope.
A Visa card? From Verizon Wireless? What the fuck?
Upon closer inspection I noticed that I had not received a credit card but a “gift card,” with a balance of $100 embossed beneath my name and a picture of that gay-ass Verizon “Can You Hear Me Now?” guy on it.
What? Where’s my check? What the hell am I going to do with a gift card?
At first I thought it was a Verizon-specific card, but I quickly realized it was not. It was just a $100 gift card. To some people it’s not worth a second thought. I get that. It’s all money. I could have just used the card in place of cash to take care of the little things I need on a day-to-day basis instead of using it to pay rent, because what it all boils down to is that whether I have a little plastic card in my pocket or a check to deposit in my bank account, the money will ultimately end up someplace else. But I think this is wrong. For Verizon to assume that I want a gift card, that I will appreciate a gift card, that I have use for a gift card, is beyond me. No doubt Verizon has some sweetheart deal with Visa that makes this rebate outcome more favorable to their company than sending customers a check.
If I were to use this card for its intended purpose I would have to constantly remember what the balance is, I would have to make sure I don’t incur any “dormancy fees” from not using the card, there’s a “valid thru” date on it (so it could expire?), and if I don’t use it in a timely manner I could be forced to reauthorize the card every single time I’m trying to use it. It’s just a dumb, shitty idea on the part of Verizon. It’s a means by which they can get away with not cutting me a check for $100.
After an hour or cursing out Verizon to anyone who would listen, I decided to read the literature that came with my new gift. The “fine print” insert listed a variety of ways to use the card. One of them was, quite simply, “transfer money to you bank account!” Beautiful, I thought. I can just go to the URL imprinted on the card and transfer the money. Then it’d be just like getting a check.
But first, lunch!
Instead of using my bank card, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my stupid Verizon card. No bother, I’ll just use it to make that $4.96 purchase I would have otherwise debited from my checking account. If, by the way, I didn’t have the $100 Visa gift card, I would have just used my checking card and would not have given it another thought. The “bonus” of having a gift card in no way helped me in this scenario. So, now that lunch was over and I knew how to terminate the card, I could follow through and put this stupid thing to rest.
First, I had to sign up for the Verizon Wireless rebate card website. I tried different usernames like, “fuckthiscard,” “this_card_sucks,” “ihatethiscard” and “fuckverzion,” all of which were taken. I settled on, “youcantbeserious,” which was my reaction each time I had to re-enter all my information due to my desired username being already taken. Once I was granted access to the website I saw my account and my balance ($95.04). I looked around the page for a button I could click to transfer money. I could not find one. I went through the help pages. I clicked every possible link on the website. Then I figured maybe I’d find the instructions for money transfers in the “fine print” where I originally read about sending money between accounts.
And then I saw it. In the tiniest fucking font imaginable, so close to the bottom of the page that it looked like the bottom-half of all each letter was cut. Verizon prohibits you from transferring money from the card to your bank account once it has been used.
I was seething. I told myself, “I hope that $4.96 sandwich was worth it, asshole, because I’m going to fucking kill you after work.” And had I not come up with a very illegitimate way to get my $95.04 in cash a few hours later (I won’t say how, but I will say that I’m smarter than the average Verizon customer for figuring it out) I just might have killed myself after work. Fuck Verizon. Fuck your stupid rebate program. Fuck Visa gift cards. Fuck you so hard you shit blood for a week. Fuck you in the mouth so hard you lose a tooth. Aside from the monthly payments I make for my phone, you will not receive another penny from me until my contract has expired. Not for hardware, not for apps, not for anything. And I will post this letter on my wildly successful website to warn people about your stupid “rebate” offer. If it stops even one person from buying a Verizon phone simply because they are eligible to receive a rebate, it will be worth it.
Thank you for your time. Please respond at your convenience.
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