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Saturday, June 13, 2009

FiOS TV: Early Adoption Pains

It's been almost two years since I first signed up and installed Verizon FiOS TV in my home to compliment the FiOS Internet service along with standard telephone. It was a pretty easy decision as I had been unhappy with the service and television lineup that Time Warner / Road Runner Cable (previously Adelphia) was providing.

Since some initial problems, the service and reliability as well as the Motorola HD / DVR QIP6416-2 boxes have been great. Generally, I was pretty happy with the service and price.

But, about a year ago I noticed a few changes when Verizon FiOS went to a new channel lineup. The biggest one was that there were a whole bunch of new high definition (HD) TV channels that I did not have access to; basic ones like ESPN NEWS. (Doesn't everyone want to watch the NBA Finals after game interviews in HD?) However, I was too busy (lazy?) to call and find out the deal.

Still, I kept noticing that the Fox HD (FXHD West) channel had a bunch of decent movies on and I would go to it without realizing...I didn't get it. So, with some time on my hands one night I logged onto and tried to see if I could find out the details.

The first thing I noticed was the plan I was on, FiOS TV Premier -- was not even in existence anymore. That should tell you something...if you're ever on a plan that has disappeared, you're likely not getting a good deal, at all. Then I identified a plan that I thought I would like, the Extreme HD Package which added the missing 41 HD channels that I was interested in.

I clicked on the button to change my plan and found a bunch of error messages that ended up at a screen telling me to call the customer service, regardless of the path I took. Now having spent a total of 2 hours on the phone with Verizon FiOS, I now understand why.

I called on Monday of this week and found there were some great new "bundles" that would not only give me the Extreme HD Package, upgrade my Internet from 5MB down / 2 up to 20MB down / 5MB up, and add some features to my phone...but would also save me $30 a month. Call me crazy, but yes -- I'll definitely sign up for that, even with the one year contract commitment -- that's $360 in savings for the year.

The agent placed the order and I hung up...pretty happy about my discovery and savings. But then 48 hours new channels. I called technical support and there was no record of my order. Uh-oh.

I then called back Verizon and spent the next 90 minutes on the phone with the agent. Apparently they were bumped out of my order three different times. And "Object not defined" error -- my account must be really old -- need some coding help to fix that one. It was escalated to a manager that was supposed to call me back. Of course, they didn't.

But then, last night I called back again and got a hold of "Sandy" a great service representative that submitted my order problem to technical support, called me back, tried again -- failed again -- went back to technical support -- called me back -- until it was fixed and right. Now it looks like Monday (and I have gotten subsequent email updates confirming my 20/5 service) I will finally have an updated package along with the great savings.

The message to me is pretty clear with Verizon FiOS like it is with most cell phone providers -- make sure you check in on packages and savings once a year -- if not, you're likely not getting a good deal. More likely, you are getting a very bad deal. Don't expect that because you were an early adopter of their service that they'll be looking out for you.

At least now, I do not need to worry about it for another year.

If you are interested in one of the Triple Freedom packages, the info on the one I choose is below...

Verizon FiOS Triple Freedom - Better Bundle with Phone, Internet, and TV:

Verizon Freedom Essentials
Unlimited calling combined with three great calling features.
Call anywhere in the country, Canada and Puerto Rico, and talk as much as you want for one fixed price. Includes Home Voice Mail, Caller ID and Call Waiting.

Plan Includes:
* Unlimited local & regional calling
* Unlimited long distance calling across the U.S., to Canada and Puerto Rico
* 99.9% Verizon phone network reliability
* Three popular calling features:
o Home Voice Mail (where available): Answers your phone calls while you're away or on the line.
o Caller ID: Displays the name and number of incoming calls.
o Call Waiting: Notifies you of another call when you're on the phone.

Verizon FiOS Internet - Faster (up to 20/5 Mbps speed plan)
The Network Built for Ultimate Speed.
Craving even more speed? Only Verizon FiOS brings fiber to your home with an all-digital, 100% fiber-optic network with 99% reliability, delivering the fastest Internet speeds available on the market today. Offering connections of up to 20 Mbps download/5 Mbps upload, Verizon FiOS Internet – Faster allows you to download full-length movies, videos and large photos, song albums, and email files in a flash.

Verizon FiOS Internet is the top-rated broadband service in America, offering a 100% fiber-optic network with 99% reliability. This plan includes:
* 9 email accounts with 4 GB of storage
* 10 MB of personal Web space
* Free email forwarding with TrueSwitchTM
* Remote email access to check Verizon email accounts from any computer
* 24/7 live technical support
* Anti-virus and spam protection
* Option to choose Verizon FiOS Internet with Windows Live, AOL or Yahoo!
* Online entertainment with sports, news and more
* Professional installation with the white glove treatment from a skilled technician

FiOSTV Extreme HD
Tomorrow’s Technology. Here Today For Total Entertainment.
Only Verizon can deliver the best HD experience, because FiOS is the 100% fiber-optic network built for HD, offering stunning picture and sound quality with virtually endless programming options. Get up to 348 digital channels and up to 55 HD channels (53 more digital channels and 41 more HD channels than FiOS TV Essentials.


Duane said...

Great advice. It does pay to stay up to date on the packages and deals. The bundles and discounts can get very confusing. When the Extreme HD package came out, I heard that some Fios tv premier users were able to get a free upgrade, so it may pay to call in and inquire. Regarding the bundle savings, I put together a chart so it's easier to understand: FiOS Bundles

Anonymous said...

Wow. I have the same old plan and had the same CSR issues with the old account. Problem is they still have not fixed mine. I am inspired to try again.