I need help with my Verizon collection bill!

Verizon collection bill

Maggie DeLoach’s daughter has a problem with a Verizon collection bill. But she paid her phone bill in full. How can she get the debt collectors off her back?

Question

I’m hoping you can help us with a Verizon collection bill. I don’t seem to be getting anywhere on my own.

Verizon has turned over my daughter Elizabeth’s account to a collection agency for a small amount of money which we could easily pay. But we do not want to cave in to Verizon’s bad business practices and greed.

My daughter recently switched cellular providers to AT&T. She received a notice that her Verizon contract would be due for renewal at the end of April 2019. We went to a Verizon store to suspend her account where an employee told us that we could carry Elizabeth’s number over to a new account after we had paid off the balance of her phone.

On April 22nd we went to AT&T and signed her up for an account. At the same time, we paid the final balance on her phone, $291.

A month after switching phones we realized that Verizon was still taking automatic payments out of Elizabeth’s account so we called our credit card and had further payments to Verizon blocked.

Verizon then began sending Elizabeth text messages requesting overdue payment of $15 with a “fine” of $25 tacked on.

We went to a Verizon store near us and were told that they could not help us unless we had a PIN for the account. Elizabeth had never set up a pin number.

We wrote Verizon a letter asking them to stop billing and sent a copy of her final payment to Verizon. And we also copied the Better Business Bureau.

We went back to a Verizon store, hoping that we could track down her former account and straighten this out.

The Verizon store specialist was unable to find an account under Elizabeth’s phone number so referred us to a helpline. The helpline was unable to give us information on Elizabeth’s account without the PIN and a password.

Verizon continued to bill and last week we received a notice that the bill had been turned over to a collection agency. Are you able to help or should we just swallow our spite and pay the bill? — Maggie DeLoach, Sunnyvale, Calif.

Answer

Don’t give up, Maggie! Companies create immense systems meant to trap you — and your money — and to leave you in despair. Oh, of course that’s not the intent. But that’s what they do. You can’t let ’em grind you down.

You’re a good mother to be paying your daughter’s phone bill and to be fighting this for her. As a parent myself, I can barely contain my anger when someone tries to take advantage of my son or daughter. I’m also furious when they go after my retired parents. But I digress.

I can see that you’ve kept a beautiful, fully annotated paper trail. Good work! You have every piece of correspondence between you and Verizon. Cellular carriers are notorious for wanting to do everything by phone, which gives you no opportunity to collect a paper trail. You saw right through that. Nice work.

I can also see that you tried to advocate this yourself. You contacted your local Better Business Bureau and a newspaper action line, hoping someone would help. You wrote to everyone you could. Nothing worked.

You could have paid off the small amount of money Elizabeth owed and been done with it. But you stuck to it on principle. Your daughter canceled her account and followed Verizon’s instructions. Somehow, the system kept billing her.

Then, despite your efforts to clear the matter up, Verizon forwarded her bill to a collections agency.

How to contact Verizon

A lot of folks panic when they see a Verizon collection bill. But not you. When you reached out to me, you were indignant but calm. And after reading the details of your case, so was I. (This isn’t our first Verizon case, but the outcome is unique as you’ll see in a moment.)

There’s one thing you didn’t try: Sending a brief, polite email to one of the executive contacts at Verizon. I list the names, numbers and email addresses on my nonprofit consumer advocacy site, Elliott.org.

I love the resolution on this one because you did it yourself. You sent a letter to the company’s president about your Verizon collection bill. A staff member contacted you and agreed to zero out the debt and to contact the credit agency to clear your daughter’s name.

Problem solved!

Posted in Problem Solved Tagged , ,

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can’t. He’s the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes weekly columns for King Features Syndicate, USA Today, and the Washington Post. If you have a consumer problem you can’t solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter.

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