How I Was Racially Profiled by Verizon Wireless
My business is online media. I need internet access to work, especially when I am traveling. I have four trips in the next six weeks, so as you can imagine when my Verizon Wireless Mifi (on the go Wifi) stopped charging, I was concerned. I wasn’t worried though, because when I got the Mifi, I was assured that if there were any problems, it would be covered under my insurance plan.
I asked specifically, more than once and was told no problem, I was covered. Before I went to the Verizon store, I stopped by the gym, so I had on sweats, a tee shirt and a hoodie. I hadn’t shave and was looking by my own admission a little bummy. I looked like a guy who had just came from the gym.
But, I needed to get this Mifi replaced. I walked into the Verizon Wireless Store on 11493 Oliver Blvd, St. Louis, Mo 63141, I was the only black person there, but not the only guy in there with sweats. That isn’t unusual for the neighborhood I was in, so I didn’t think anything of it.
There was a Representative arguing with another representative, when I came in, so this wasn’t a professional office. I was approached angrily by a woman who I believed was the manager. She was arguing with the rep, while also asking me what did I need, in a very rude way.
I was polite, I simply said my Mifi isn’t charging and I need it replaced.
The first thing she asked me rudely was if I had paid my bill, assuming I guess the mifi wasn’t working because of non payment. But, I politely said my billing is up to date. I thought it was a weird question considering the guy before me was having an issue with his phone and he wasn’t asked about his billing. He was a white guy with sweats on.
She checked the Mifi confirmed it wasn’t working, walked away and started to argue with the rep again, she came back and said rudely it couldn’t be replace because I didn’t have any insurance or warranty on it.
I politely said that isn’t the case because your Representative added the insurance and told me my phone and mifi was covered and then the conversation went like this.
Elizabeth: I don’t care what the rep told you it isn’t on there.
Me: This isn’t very good customer service on your part, but how much is the replacement?
Elizabeth: It is over $250.
Me: That is ridiculous, I didn’t break anything and you employee told me it was on the account, I have been paying for insurance almost a year.
Elizabeth: What is the problem you can’t afford? You don’t look like you can.
Me: Excuse me?
Elizabeth: Sir, you can either pay for a replacement or cancel and there is a $150 cancel fee, if you don’t have the money you need to step aside we have customers waiting.
Me: Ok, what is your name?
Me: Ok, I will escalate this to your corporate office.
Elizabeth: You go ahead and do that!
I walked out of the store calmly, because what Elizabeth doesn’t know is I worked in corporate escalations for years and the way I am going to handle this, is through the media, because I am just one person.
But this story will be seen by 60k people on Twitter, 3k people on Facebook, 1k on Google Plus and many more after I spread it all around. I already have Verizon’s corporate address and private corporate email. It will be locked in search engines for years. I can easily get another on the go Wifi, it isn’t about the money. I was lied to and racially profiled.
Treat people with respect regardless of their appearance, because you just never know who you are talking to.
After asking to be contacted by Verizon for 14 hours, I did get a call at around 9 AM this morning.
The young lady that called was very polite, listened to my story and noted everything that happened. She located the store and the employee named Elizabeth.
She was sympathetic to my situation as the racial profiling was much more important to me than the actual MIFI service. But, she did address the situation I was having with the insurance on my MIFI service.
Simply put, I was lied to by a previous representative, who said he put insurance on my MIFI and did not. After discussing it with her supervisor, they decided to send me a replacement MIFI at no charge, but with one stipulation.
The stipulation being, as long as the original MIFI wasn’t damaged by me, there would be no charge. Honestly, I have no faith in Verizon at this point, so I am providing these photos of the MIFI before I ship it back to them. As you can see , even though it is a year old, it looks brand new and not damaged in any way.
I was assured, as long as there wasn’t any damage I would not be charge, but we will see. If I get a bill for a charge I will bring this post back up.
I asked for an apology from Elizabeth, but they couldn’t guarantee a call. I will be following up at the office this week, because I want my apology in person and face to face.
No one regardless of their race should be treated the way I was treated and as soon as my contract is up, I will be taking my business elsewhere.
I do appreciate, someone did call to resolved the problem, but that doesn’t change the fact, I shouldn’t have had to go through this in the first place.
I advise anyone who is discriminated against, to stand up for your rights and not be bully by these big corporations.