It is good to hear from you too.
Too bad it is under these circumstances. Now that I think of it, I’ve
recently had three bad experiences at that store, since I also had to replace
my own long-suffering Razr. Unfortunately, all three experiences have been resolved
as much as they are going to be. The agent filed an insurance claim for the
caregiver’s damaged phone on Friday, and the replacement should be here
today. That in itself seemed odd since I’ve always heard that phone
insurance was only for if the phone was lost or stolen. In any case, the agent
still hit me with the $50 deductible even though the phone was four days old.
The issue with the new laptop
was also weird. Like you, I have migrated to the government/business sector at
least when shopping for laptops because the build quality is higher than the
consumer lines. What I have now is an E6500, one of the black little tanks that
Dell puts out for business and government use. My E6500 has a Gobi card and no
PCI Express slots. As you likely know, Gobi is an internal cellular modem that
will supposedly talk to any carrier on the planet. EVDO, HSDPA, CDMA, GSM, tin-can,
Gobi simply doesn’t care. Of course, on CDMA/EVDO systems like Verizon, a
phone number (281-723-6283) is linked to a device by its electronic serial
number. The catch is that a Gobi doesn’t have an ESN even in EVDO/CDMA
mode. What it has is a fifteen digit hexadecimal “MEID” which
apparently includes the ESN somewhere within it. The franchise agent was
baffled by Gobi, and I admit it still mystifies me a bit because I still don’t
have the ESN. After first trying to tell me that a) my laptop didn’t have
a radio, and then b) Verizon didn’t support Gobi, the agent (with heated
prompting) did spend two hours on the phone with Verizon and Dell trying to
activate the card. We never did really figure things out; the card just
miraculously started working. That means I still need to know what ESN the Gobi
is using so I can reactivate it by myself when needed. I run a small fleet of
laptops (mainly to insure I always have one that works), and, when I have to
swap laptops, I also have to swap the registered ESN. If possible, would you
please tell me the ESN the above phone number is currently linked to? That will
identify the Gobi.
Getting back to the broader
issue, I think some franchises like the Highway 6 store are somewhat deceptive.
They admit to being an “indirect” store if asked, but the layout of
the place very much leads customers to the conclusion that they are dealing directly
with Verizon. The store really pushes the idea that there is no difference,
but, as you confirm, there are some quite significant differences.
So good to hear from you again. I am not happy it has to be
in these circumstances. I will always be glad to help you anyway I can.
Please provide me with the phone number that needs to be
replaced. Also I what is not connecting with your laptop. The
software or the connection to our network?
As far as franchise go, you are correct in all the reasons
stated to have an authorized dealer out there. They way I understand the
payout to them is based on numbers they bring in. They should have a very
high interest in relationship building. However we have to entrust them
to run there business that way.
We have an entire department here dedicated to the agents, I you
have any issues with an agent I would always direct my customers to them.
There are certain things the agents cannot do. They are
unable to warranty phones out. They do not have customer service reps or
technicians on hand to troubleshoot devices. That is reserved to the
corporate locations. The closest corporate location to West Oaks is
at Kirkwood and Westheimer. I completely understand the fact that all the
signage make the customer feel as though they are at a
direct Verizon store. The company hopes that a customer would
get the same service no matter where they buy the Verizon Wireless
devices. Also when these agents have this signage, it signifies that
they only sell Verizon and they have proven themselves to be a
"premier agent". I am not happy to hear that you did not have a
good experience. I would suggest contacting me or a corporate store going
Shame on me for not giving you the heads up that things
had changes there. I will be glad to see what I can do for you.
Just email me the numbers and issues with the devices and I will see what
can be done.
I hope everything is well with you, and thank you for still
thinking of me.
From: Scott Royall [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Saturday, September 19, 2009 4:50 PM
To: Stinson, Brad
Subject: Verizon’s Customer Support
Ok, I’m curious. What’s the general business
relationship between Verizon and the franchise dealers such as the company that
bought your old Highway 6 store? I ask because I’ve had a couple of
rather negative experiences there that cause me to question the underlying
wisdom of franchise dealerships in the cellular industry.
Yes, I understand that franchises allow a carrier to provide
a market presence at lower cost. You don’t have to financially support a
franchise store. That’s obvious, but how much thought has gone toward the
question of whether or not a franchised experience enhances or degrades the
carrier’s relationship with the customer/subscriber over time?
Let’s be honest, the primary source of income for a carrier like Verizon
Wireless is the subscriptions, and it’s in your own best interest to do
things to make the subscriber inclined to continue the relationship. On the
other paw, a franchise is likely compensated by Verizon on a per-transaction
basis so the dealer has no direct interest in supporting the long-term
relationship between carrier and subscriber. This arrangement seems inherently
in conflict to me.
I know you’ve moved over to the business side of
Verizon. With four lines now, I certainly feel like a small business or at
least a non-profit! My monthly subscription fees are certainly
non-trivial! When I need to connect a new laptop to Verizon’s network, or
replace a caregiver’s phone that was accidentally broken, I don’t
need a franchise dealer telling me, “uh, we don’t sell that
laptop,” or, “we have to charge to replace the phone.” My
view is that, if you put “Verizon Wireless” across your storefront
in huge letters, you need to actively support whatever Verizon Wireless does.
Now, what can we do about this mess? Anything?
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