April 22, 2010
too big to be accountable (and other lessons in corporate anarchy)
Along with countless people, my email account with Verizon has been down for two days now. I have spent a lot of time on the phone in India talking with people who have absolutely no ability to do anything except tell me that I am talking to the wrong people.
My problem is that I have dialup Internet service with Verizon, and they aren't set up to provide technical support for dialup, but they won't admit it. Sure, they give you a voicemail option to press for dialup, but it makes absolutely no difference; your call gets put on hold and is automatically placed in the same pool as high speed customers. Which means that after a considerable wait, you will get someone in India who will tell you that his job is to answer the phone and provide technical support for high speed and not dialup. He will then give you the dialup number (which is of course the same number you called) and tell you to select the dialup option). I did this repeatedly. Of course, on two of the occasions, I was dropped after being on hold. (I suspect they enjoy doing that at random.) And when finally I did get through, I was told that there is an system-wide email outage problem which would be resolved by 6:00 p.m. last night.
Well guess what? It wasn't!
To say that there is no accountability would be understatement. This company does not even reach the state of even theoretical accountability. It is pure bureaucratic anarchy, run amok.
Fortunately, I'm still online (I don't have Verizon as my Internet service provider), and as Verizon email has been down for two days now, it occurred to me to Google the news sites. Sure enough, the problem is bad enough to have been written up as a story.
If you are a Verizon user, you might be wondering what has happened with your Verizon email. Well, at the time of writing, it seems many people are reporting Verizon email problems, being unable to sign in to their account due to time out.And as no story about Verizon would be complete without an official lie from Verizon, Verizon has managed to come up with one -- on Twitter, no less!
UPDATE!! Verizon apparently has resolved the problem, in the Twitter account they posted:Hilarious!
No, of course the problem is not resolved, and Verizon damned well knows it. At least, someone, somewhere at Verizon knows it. The company is so large that there is absolutely no accountability anywhere. They lie by rote and there is no way to call them on it. They are not people, they have no titles, they have no country, and there is no there there. Almost reminds me of the golden days of The Telephone Company:
...you're dealing with the telephone company. We are not subject to city, state, or federal legislation. We are omnipotent.Except in those days, even though The Telephone Company was an omnipotent monopoly there was a sort of mutually understood cultural acknowledgment that they would would fix your service when it didn't work.
No more. Now they won't admit to anything being broken. Instead, they issue official lies, and only if you go through an elaborate ritual called technical "support" might you be lucky enough to glean an admission that something is wrong.
Not that they're fooling anyone. The commenters certainly know.
#YIKES is right. But I'm curious about something. What's with this Twitter business? Why would a huge company like Verizon open a Twitter account? I don't know how to interpret this. Is it just a new place to lie? A better way to expand upon their hegemonic system of unaccountability? Or might some joker in the corporate hierarchy simply be displaying a sense of humor?
I can't be sure, but I did find the Official Lie here, and as Twitters are notorious for disappearing, I thought I would take a screen shot.
Not that this would in any way hold them accountable, for I know such a thing is impossible. But because I think it's actually funny to see an official corporate lie on Twitter. I also think it's funny to read that my email has been "completely restored." (And I find it especially touching that even though they apparently can't fix their email service, and have to lie about it, they're still not too busy to wish their customers a Happy Earth Day!)
there is an outage going on in Verizon so please wait until it is resolved.It wasn't easy, as he played the same game with me that they play on the phone. First they say they can't talk to you because you've been sent to the wrong department, then finally -- if you're lucky enough to persuade them to look past the jurisdictional wrangling for a moment -- you might be able to get them to admit the system is down. That might not be much, but I'm willing to settle even for a tiny victory in my ongoing Sisyphean struggle against vast bureaucratic anarchy and total unaccountability.
I saved my chat room dialogue for those who are into such kinky things, and if you're interested, you can read it below.
UPDATE: Just got an email from a friend:
no wonder some of my emails to you failed! What a nightmare.Well, it might be a nightmare for customers who rely on email to do things like conduct their own business, but it's all just fun and games for the corporate anarchists.
MORE: The Examiner has a story of the outage too. It's major.
Verizon DSL customers across the country, including here in New York, are reporting an email outage. POP access is down completely. It appears the servers have crashed. Webmail access is sporadic at best and even the Verizon.net page is having load issues.Having issues? That's putting it mildly. I can't login at all.
AND MORE: Bad as this is, it only underlines how much worse things could be, as Glenn Reynolds explains in this book review.
AND EVEN MORE: If this mess sounds familiar, it is.
As a report from last year illustrates, it's
Yep, it looks like their server crashed and died! As I am a Verizon customer myself I called their tech support to find out what the story was. The rep insisted everything was fine and blamed it on my computer. Uh, no don't think so. When your website is telling people there's no server to connect to, you have definite problems!IT HAPPENS EVERY SPRING! (Like the old movie title....)
UPDATE (Friday, April 23, 2010): Email is still down, there is an interminable waiting period for customer support and the Verizon chat line people say they have no idea how long it will last. From my earlier chat this morning:
Chat Subject: OtherHey, at least they say they don't know, which is honest.
UPDATE (April 24, 2010): After being told this morning that the problem was solved, my email still didn't work, and I was still unable to login, it would not accept my password, nor could I delete or change the password. So I called tech support again, and they were able to change my password account and bring my account back. Which means the problem is solved for now. Thank God.
What follows is my chat room dialogue from this morning:
Chat Subject: Other
MORE: And if you got all the way down here, you might just be crazy enough to be interested in the email that was sent to me as the promised "follow up to our interaction today." It has nothing to do with anything I was talking about, but it is presented it here, in the interest of truth, and also in the hope that some callused executive might just be forced to read what their technical support people think is appropriate reading material for customers who only want their email restored.
Dear Verizon High Speed Internet customer,Hmmm...
Why does the word "bullet" suddenly appear throughout the email? It wasn't in what I cut and pasted, so it must be a translation of the html.
Please be assured that it is not commentary from me!
MORE: Cut and paste got screwed up but it's now fixed thanks to Veeshir.
posted by Eric on 04.22.10 at 11:25 AM
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