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I cancelled Verizon account, sent a $0 Final Bill, now get a collection agency notice


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#1 Haggar

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 12:17 PM

Hey everyone,

I'll try to keep this as short as possible. I work for a very small business (3 employees). For the past 5 years we used Verizon for DSL internet & phone service. We never were late with a payment, and never really had any problems with them.

At the end of last year, we almost closed because of the economy and lack of business. We were able to find a smaller store with a much smaller rent, so we were able to stay open. We also switched to Cablevision (Optimum Online) because they offered us a better rate.

I called and cancelled our Verizon account, and everything seemed fine. Then they sent us a $300 bill ($280-$290ish). I called and after an hour of being bounced around they had no answers as what it was for. They even were like "Well, you're not even a customer of ours anymore, so there's no reason for us to help you."

Finally someone said it was an early termination fee, because our original contract said we had to be a customer for 1 year to get the rate we were getting. When I pointed out we were a customer for 5 years, they just said "Well, I don't know what to tell you".

After talking to several reps and a manager, they told me that they removed the charge (that they couldn't even explain what it was for) and our balance was $0.00. A few days later we got the Final Bill in the mail that showed the $0.00 balance.

This past Wednesday, about 2 months after we received our $0.00 final bill, we got a notice from a collections agency saying that Verizon submitted us to them for not paying a $300 bill.

My boss is pretty upset, and since "I am the IT guy" (the only person that can run the computer) it falls on me to fix this problem. I'm upset too, because it is just a total screwjob by Verizon. $300 is a lot for us to pay at this time, especially when it's something we don't rightfully owe.

So I am looking for advice from anyone. I figure it's pointless to try to call the collections agency, since even if I fax them a copy of our $0.00 bill they won't care because they just want the $300 so they can get their cut of it. And if I try and call Verizon again, it's going to be another few hours of being bounced around and "You're not even our customer anymore so there's no reason for us to help you" like they told me before.

The only thing I was thinking was of getting Verizon on the phone, and if they aren't helpful just mentioning that I don't know what to do at this point except contact media outlets like The Consumerist.com and local news to show them how Verizon operates.

Anyone have a similar experience with Verizon, or can offer suggestions on how to handle this?

Thanks.

#2 flameofdoom666

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 12:50 PM

I figure it's pointless to try to call the collections agency, since even if I fax them a copy of our $0.00 bill they won't care because they just want the $300 so they can get their cut of it. And if I try and call Verizon again, it's going to be another few hours of being bounced around and "You're not even our customer anymore so there's no reason for us to help you" like they told me before.


I disagree. I think you should call the collections agency and tell them the story. I would also call Verizon and tell them the story. Demand upper level managers, and not the peon workers. Don't pay it, fight it. It will end up favoring your side (if everything you said is 100% correct), so I wouldn't worry.

Verizon are a bunch of fucks.

#3 mtxbass1

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 12:56 PM

I'd write consumerist and see what people there say.



#4 Bezerker

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 01:00 PM

If they sent you a bill for $0.00 just send a copy to both verizon & the collection agency. Obviously it has dates on it, so they cant say you have a previous balance.

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#5 fatherofcaitlyn

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 01:07 PM

The collection agency is probably a subsidiary of Verizon.

You have a final bill reading $0.00. Don't lose it.

When they call looking for money, offer to fax them your final bill of $0.00.

If they won't accept it, just tell them you want to go to court.

Verizon sold them a fake debt. It isn't yours to pay and you don't have to prove it isn't your debt.

By the way, collect as many bill statements from Verizon as possible to show you don't have any history of a past due balance.

Eventually, the collections agency might take you to court. The judge will look over a summary of your paperwork and press the collections agency as to where the $300 is coming from. Just like Verizon, the collections agency won't be able to explain it and the judge will dismiss the debt.

If the collections agency is stupid enough to try to ding somebody's credit, your countersuit will cover court costs and lost pay by a wide margin.
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#6 Malik112099

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 01:36 PM

I figure it's pointless to try to call the collections agency, since even if I fax them a copy of our $0.00 bill they won't care because they just want the $300 so they can get their cut of it. And if I try and call Verizon again, it's going to be another few hours of being bounced around and "You're not even our customer anymore so there's no reason for us to help you" like they told me before.



I love when people have problems and they talk themselves out of doing exactly what they should do for dumb reasons.
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#7 keithp

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 02:03 PM

The collection agency is probably a subsidiary of Verizon.

You have a final bill reading $0.00. Don't lose it.

When they call looking for money, offer to fax them your final bill of $0.00.

If they won't accept it, just tell them you want to go to court.

Verizon sold them a fake debt. It isn't yours to pay and you don't have to prove it isn't your debt.

By the way, collect as many bill statements from Verizon as possible to show you don't have any history of a past due balance.

Eventually, the collections agency might take you to court. The judge will look over a summary of your paperwork and press the collections agency as to where the $300 is coming from. Just like Verizon, the collections agency won't be able to explain it and the judge will dismiss the debt.

If the collections agency is stupid enough to try to ding somebody's credit, your countersuit will cover court costs and lost pay by a wide margin.


Yep, this. FoC is wise and you should listen to him.

#8 rusty

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 02:20 PM

If they continue to hound you after showing them the $0 bill, just send them a $0.01 check every month toward the $300. They'll get the message.

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#9 epictempo

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 02:51 PM

Write this same story to BBB, you have a final bill of $0 so you'll win.

#10 Malik112099

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 03:15 PM

Write this same story to BBB, you have a final bill of $0 so you'll win.



Yeah, cause they have some pull....
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#11 shrike4242

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 04:18 PM

If you have a bill from them that says FINAL BILL and it shows a $0.00 balance, there's no debt you have to pay.

I think Verizon removed your ETF on one part of their system and didn't finish the job, or they reversed it, so it's still showing up as on your account.

Your contract may be set to auto-renew after a year, and if that's the case, I can see why Verizon would be thinking you have an ETF on the contract. You'd have to look at the contract terms to see if that's the case or not.

Again, if you have a final bill showing a zero balance, fax it to the collections company, indicate you have a $0.00 balance with Verizon and have them go back to Verizon to get it cleared up. I'd also suggest calling Verizon and have them verify if your balance is showing $0.00 on their end of $300. My guess is that it'll be showing $0.00 and somewhere else in their systems, it's showing $300.

You might want to do a conference call with the collections company, Verizon and yourself and just hash it out over the phone.

#12 Clownzilla

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 04:47 PM

Fax your $0 bill and a letter explaining your situation to both Verizon and the collection agency. Contact the BBB with the same info and that should be more than enough.Verizon might sue your company but with all the evidence on your side there will be no way they can win. I wouldn't sweat too much over this:)

#13 daschrier

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 06:13 PM

Verizon seems to have a problem with this.

One of my coworkers moved, had Verizon FIOS, cancelled service at his old house and signed up at his new address. Gets a letter in the mail for an early termination fee. Took him a few days on the phone for Verizon to understand what happened.
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#14 LonelyController

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 06:32 PM

mail the collection agency a check for 0.00 with a copy of the final bill

#15 sendme

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 06:35 PM

Just pay the damn thing. Send them a check wrote out for 0.00 and detatch the part of the bill you fill out after you have made a copy of it. I'm sure you will confuse the shit out of someone and it will only cost the company a check, time to write it and mail it and the postage. So it wont cost much and will Fuck with Verizon for a day or so.

EDIT: chakan posted it before I could but yeah do what we are saying.
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#16 dubbfoolio

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 07:32 PM

Verizon is shit. Their customer servce is the worst. I'd check with Verizon, I'll bet they tacked on some bullshit charges later on. They're terrible. Being grossly overcharged after being lied to multiple times, and need someone to tell you to eat shit? At Verizon, there's an ASS for that.

#17 fatherofcaitlyn

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 07:56 PM

You might want to do a conference call with the collections company, Verizon and yourself and just hash it out over the phone.


Why would you give Verizon and the collections company an opportunity to collude?

If Verizon tells the collection company that every customer is a new customer due to some auto renew gimmick, the OP is hosed.

Make the collections company explain away a $0 final bill without the benefit of Verizon's notes or expertise.

Verizon has no incentive to help the OP, but plenty of incentive to help the collections company who they are selling debts to.
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#18 RedvsBlue

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:05 PM

DO NOT ignore the collection agency. They get a bad wrap and some are nasty but when I was stuck dealing with one because of an identity theft incident it was much more helpful to communicate with them. In most states there's a short period of time in which you can dispute it after the collection agency gets it. If you ignore them in this time period you will only have more difficulty in dealing with it later on. They will most likely want proof of why you are disputing the collection, fax them the bill with $0 balance.

#19 fatherofcaitlyn

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:22 PM

In most states there's a short period of time in which you can dispute it after the collection agency gets it.


http://personal-debt...dispute_letters

I'm going to disagree.
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#20 Allnatural

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Posted 29 January 2010 - 08:50 PM

http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/

Old, but very much relevant.

#21 Haggar

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 01:53 AM

Thanks for everyone's comments.

When I got to work today I went through the paperwork that I had saved. The collections bill was for $326.

As someone suggested, I called the collections agency first, and as someone had said it seems like they are part of Verizon based on what I was told about my account.

Basically, the woman said I had *two* accounts, the one with the Final Bill $0.00 was the "other" account. We only ever had a single account- two phone lines (one for voice calls, and one for the credit card machine) and an Internet connection. She says that it looks like the other phone line was kept open (the credit card line) which isn't true, and then it was cancelled and that's why we have a new account with a termination fee. Which makes no sense what so ever.

Luckily, I had the name of the person I spoke to when I cancelled, the phone number of the person, and the date I called. The woman asked me for a "confirmation number", which I didn't have because when I cancelled and asked for a confirmation number, the woman I spoke to at that time said "the system doesn't generate confirmation numbers, my name and number is confirmation enough." Not so says the collections agency woman "That person doesn't have authorization to cancel your account, only managers do. Without an authorization number the info you provided is meaningless." I told the woman I would call Verizon and then call her back. She said "At this point Verizon can't do anything."

So then I called our Optimum Online sales rep, because he said Verizon might try to do what they ended up doing to us, and he gave us a rebate form where Optimum Online would reimburse up to $300 if they give us a termination fee, but he was out sick and I was on hold for too long calling regular support and was unable to speak with anyone today from our new service provider.

The worst part is, the paperwork for the termination fee reimbursement offer states that we had to fax everything to them within 30 days of switching over, and now it's over 2 months, so I am 99% sure they won't help (and they shouldn't be expected to after this length of time). If Verizon hadn't lied when they said they "removed the $326 charge, just throw out that bill." I would have been able to have Optimum Online reimburse us, but since we didn't find out until over 2 months later, that option is apparently void now.

So as it stands now, Verizon still wants it's $326 because they claim I cancelled 1 phone line and the Internet, but wanted to make a new account for the other line, or something. But then I cancelled the other line, and because it was a new account and we didn't have it for a year, we get a termination fee. I think that was what the woman was trying to explain to me.

I will try to get in touch with our rep for the new provider this week, and then see what's what before I call back Verizon/Collection agency (who seem to be the same entity, since the collection agency agent knew an awful lot about Verizon's policies and my accounts' specifics.

My boss is ready to cave in and pay, which honestly would be easier for me, but I don't think it's right. I want to fight it.

I will never, ever use Verizon for anything ever. No cellphone, no Fios, nothing. They are dead to me.

#22 Guest_strongpimphand_*

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 03:11 AM

Simple fax the first time you get Ishmal on your phone will handle everything

#23 Critte

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 04:06 AM

PM sent

#24 Haggar

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 05:07 AM

PM sent


Replied, thank you.

#25 keithp

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 05:45 AM

Good for you for wanting to stand up for what's right and not cave in like your boss. Good luck with the fight!

#26 burritoman

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 05:54 AM

Contact the district attourney.

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#27 fatherofcaitlyn

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 11:29 AM

Let's run through this a little.

Basically, the woman said I had *two* accounts, the one with the Final Bill $0.00 was the "other" account. We only ever had a single account- two phone lines (one for voice calls, and one for the credit card machine) and an Internet connection. She says that it looks like the other phone line was kept open (the credit card line) which isn't true, and then it was cancelled and that's why we have a new account with a termination fee. Which makes no sense what so ever.


Were you receiving two bills or one bill with two account numbers? If you only had one account number, you only had one account.

Luckily, I had the name of the person I spoke to when I cancelled, the phone number of the person, and the date I called. The woman asked me for a "confirmation number", which I didn't have because when I cancelled and asked for a confirmation number, the woman I spoke to at that time said "the system doesn't generate confirmation numbers, my name and number is confirmation enough." Not so says the collections agency woman "That person doesn't have authorization to cancel your account, only managers do. Without an authorization number the info you provided is meaningless." I told the woman I would call Verizon and then call her back. She said "At this point Verizon can't do anything."


http://dictionary.re...om/browse/lying

The collector has no incentive to let go of the debt. Verizon has no incentive to help you. Have them provide something with your signature on it where you agreed to a second account number with early termination fees. If they have the proof, pay them and move on. If they don't, advise them you will start recording their calls and read http://www.ftc.gov/b...redit/cre27.pdf. Then, let your imagination run wild with how to find them in violation. For example, contract a hobo to inform the collector he or she should not be given the amount of money owed and proceed to ask said collector constantly how much money is owed. Do so after getting the collector's work phone, cell phone, work phone and, if possible, phone numbers of the collector's spouse or family. Hell, have the hobo contact random people on a prepaid cell phone demanding the collector call back while giving out the collector's contact information. After a few bottles of Boone's Farm Wine, that stressed collector might violate consumer protection laws and net you a healthy countersuit in court.

So then I called our Optimum Online sales rep, because he said Verizon might try to do what they ended up doing to us, and he gave us a rebate form where Optimum Online would reimburse up to $300 if they give us a termination fee, but he was out sick and I was on hold for too long calling regular support and was unable to speak with anyone today from our new service provider.
The worst part is, the paperwork for the termination fee reimbursement offer states that we had to fax everything to them within 30 days of switching over, and now it's over 2 months, so I am 99% sure they won't help (and they shouldn't be expected to after this length of time). If Verizon hadn't lied when they said they "removed the $326 charge, just throw out that bill." I would have been able to have Optimum Online reimburse us, but since we didn't find out until over 2 months later, that option is apparently void now.


Good idea: Get Optimum Online to pay the bill. Unless OO has a monopoly or there is some contract with an early termination fee, they'll do damn near anything to keep your business.
Better idea: Get OO to pay you the early termination fee. If you get the collections agency to settle for less or to piss off altogether, call it a bonus.

So as it stands now, Verizon still wants it's $326 because they claim I cancelled 1 phone line and the Internet, but wanted to make a new account for the other line, or something. But then I cancelled the other line, and because it was a new account and we didn't have it for a year, we get a termination fee. I think that was what the woman was trying to explain to me.


And that hearkens back to what the second account number is and you agreeing to it.

I will try to get in touch with our rep for the new provider this week, and then see what's what before I call back Verizon/Collection agency (who seem to be the same entity, since the collection agency agent knew an awful lot about Verizon's policies and my accounts' specifics.


Calling your provider for that credit is good idea, but why call the collector? Have you affirmed the debt? Do you think the collector won't call you? I'm betting the collector will call back. Then, you can ask for proof. Try this one out: "I understand you think this is a valid debt. Would you mind providing me some sort of document with my signature on it that somehow proves the existence of the debt?" Don't worry, collectors will be more than happy to feed you some line of shit about how they don't have to provide proof. You can tell when collectors are lying because their lips will be moving.

My boss is ready to cave in and pay, which honestly would be easier for me, but I don't think it's right. I want to fight it.


Good idea: Let your boss pay the bill. If $300 means nothing to him or her, let the fool and money part ways.
Better idea: Let your boss pay the bill and let Optimum Online pay you for the early termination fees. Let's call it a bonus.
Best idea: Let your boss pay you the early termination fee. I mean, it's YOUR job to take care of it. Then, let Optimum Online pay you for the early termination fees. If you get the collections agency to settle for less or to piss off altogether, call it a bonus.
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#28 shrike4242

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Posted 30 January 2010 - 04:57 PM

Most telcos are very anal about being picky when it comes to canceling service.

If you have an account with a main billing telephone number and a secondary number underneath it, if you call in to cancel only the main billing telephone number, they'll spin off a new account number with the secondary number as the BTN.

Here's the wrinkle with canceling service for telcos, and I speak from experience on this one. If you don't specifically give them all the phone numbers you want to cancel and just tell them you want to cancel the account, they may take that as your intent to just cancel the main number listed as the BTN on the account. After that, they happily spin off a new account with the secondary number and keep billing you. Since they may a new account number for the other line of service, they may have started it up another contract on it, and with that comes the ETF.

Did you ever get any bills in the mail besides the "old" account, for this "new" account? In two months' time, I'd like to think they would have sent you a bill in the mail, assuming you were getting paper bills. If they were electronically-delivered bills, then it's the same scenario, in two months, they should have sent you something.

The one thing working against you, and in a very bad way, was the fact that you had no confirmation number from the rep in question. She was outright lying to you when she said her information was enough to prove you canceled service. If you look on the final bill, there should be something on it with some type of order number, which would be listed on the bill next to the credit you'd be getting for the cancellation of service. Since you pay a month in advance for the service, you'd get back a credit from the unused portion of your service and next to that credit on the bill should be an order number, which would be some alphanumeric sequence, possibly starting with a "D" for disconnect.

I've run into this issue with AT&T for my work, and I doubt Verizon would be any different. I'd check your final bill as well as any bill right prior to it and see if there's any order number on it for the disconnection. If you have that, then you can prove the disconnection order, though without it, you might be up the creek.

#29 camoor

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 03:14 PM

Most telcos are very anal about being picky when it comes to canceling service.

If you have an account with a main billing telephone number and a secondary number underneath it, if you call in to cancel only the main billing telephone number, they'll spin off a new account number with the secondary number as the BTN.

Here's the wrinkle with canceling service for telcos, and I speak from experience on this one. If you don't specifically give them all the phone numbers you want to cancel and just tell them you want to cancel the account, they may take that as your intent to just cancel the main number listed as the BTN on the account. After that, they happily spin off a new account with the secondary number and keep billing you. Since they may a new account number for the other line of service, they may have started it up another contract on it, and with that comes the ETF.

Did you ever get any bills in the mail besides the "old" account, for this "new" account? In two months' time, I'd like to think they would have sent you a bill in the mail, assuming you were getting paper bills. If they were electronically-delivered bills, then it's the same scenario, in two months, they should have sent you something.

The one thing working against you, and in a very bad way, was the fact that you had no confirmation number from the rep in question. She was outright lying to you when she said her information was enough to prove you canceled service. If you look on the final bill, there should be something on it with some type of order number, which would be listed on the bill next to the credit you'd be getting for the cancellation of service. Since you pay a month in advance for the service, you'd get back a credit from the unused portion of your service and next to that credit on the bill should be an order number, which would be some alphanumeric sequence, possibly starting with a "D" for disconnect.

I've run into this issue with AT&T for my work, and I doubt Verizon would be any different. I'd check your final bill as well as any bill right prior to it and see if there's any order number on it for the disconnection. If you have that, then you can prove the disconnection order, though without it, you might be up the creek.


This is very informative. Thanks for the info.

Seems there are all sorts of ways they have of getting you.

#30 shrike4242

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 05:16 PM

This is very informative. Thanks for the info.

Seems there are all sorts of ways they have of getting you.

It's not always a literal intent to try and screw you over, it's more the case that you have to be anal-retentive specific on what you're disconnecting for service, or they just proceed to keep whatever you don't mention alive and well. With a new billing account number, of course.