Help Squad: Credit card glitch zaps Verizon customer’s balance

Richard Cooper, of Park Ridge, called on Help Squad to ask for our assistance on a problem with his cell phone carrier, Verizon.

Cooper explained that he is on an automatic payment plan with the company. For $15 per month, which gets deducted from his credit card, he is charged per minute for his phone usage.

He said the rate plan had been working out well, but thanks to the identity breach Target, his old card was considered at risk, and his credit card company issued a new card.

Cooper realized he had to change his credit card information with Verizon for them to start charging the new card, so he visited a Verizon store in Lombard, where a Verizon employee called Verizon customer service and made the change for him.

Relieved and happy, Cooper left the Verizon store, only to discover two days later that his Verizon balance, which had previously been a $173 credit was $0.

The next day, he visited the Verizon store in Niles, where an employee called Verizon, who said they would look into the matter.

Two days later, nothing was changed. This time, Cooper called Verizon himself, and was told there was nothing they could do, that the request to restore the money was denied because he hadn’t authorized them to use the new card.

Enter Help Squad.

With Cooper on the line, we called Verizon. We started with a representative who told us she completely understood how we were feeling, but that she didn’t have the authority to reactivate the credit. So, she passed us onto her supervisor, who told us that Cooper’s new credit card wouldn’t accept the payment, and therefore, there was nothing she could do.

What?! Cooper’s new card wouldn’t accept the payment? Was that his fault? No. Neither was the Target breach, by the way. That’s what we told the second supervisor, who then put her supervisor on the line.

When he found out Help Squad was on the line, he told us he could not speak with Cooper unless we got off of the call, so that’s what we did. We hung up. Unfortunately, when we hung up, we disconnected Cooper and the supervisor!

So, we advised Cooper to call Verizon back and explain that he was working with Help Squad, and that regardless of how the situation turned out, we were going to write about it for our April 24 column.

We will never really know if or how much we helped Cooper, but something great happened when he called Verizon back: The representative he spoke with told him she had no idea why they weren’t crediting his account, that she was aware of the mistake, and she instantly restored the $173 back into his account!

 

Dear Mr. Cooper,

Regardless of who solved your problem—us or a particularly kind and sensible Verizon representative—we are happy that you are now able to call your friends and family with $173 worth of credit! Additionally, we hope your new credit card doesn’t cause you any further issues with other creditors.

Sincerely,

Help Squad

 

Feel like your cell phone bills are too high?

With the help of Jim Chilsen, spokesperson for the Citizens Utility Board, here are five money saving cell phone tips that could bring your future cell phone bills way down!

1. Set your smartphone to use Wi-Fi whenever it’s available. This cuts down on your data usage and could allow you to downsize to a cheaper plan.

2. Beware of data-devouring apps or features, which may continue to run in the background long after you need them. (For example, Facebook uses a phone’s GPS to track location.) Make sure they’re turned off when you’re not using them.

3. Do you work for a big company? Check with your carrier. They might offer your firm a special discount for employees. Such deals can cut bills by up to 25 percent.

4. More and more consumers are switching to prepaid plans (like Cooper), compared to traditional contract plans. Such offers used to be reserved for people with basic cellphone needs, but prepaid plans have gotten more sophisticated, and might make sense, even for high usage smartphone owners.

5. Ever heard of “cramming fees?” This is a growing scam, in which a third party “crams” your bill for services you don’t need and/or that you didn’t agree to. These are fraudulent charges. So, read your bill carefully and look for things such as dating tips or horoscope services that you didn’t authorize.

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