Me vs. The Giant Corporation

Posted by on October 5, 2009

I have two kids and in the three years that we’ve had On-Demand movies with our Verizon fiber optic cable, it’s made me incredibly lazy in that I have no need to drive to Blockbuster and rent movies anymore. I just flip to the On-Demand menu and find whatever it is we want to watch. This is great when it’s just adults but not so great when it’s my kids who want to see a movie.

Let me preface this story by saying we have every parental control available set on our TV. I’m a firm believer that kids are exposed to too much too soon in this world and I do everything I can to slow that down. They’re children. They’re just not equipped to process and understand so much of what is freely available on TV and every time ANY child is exposed to violence, sex or other adult-oriented things, I honestly believe it chips away at their innocence and shortens their childhood a bit.

So anyway…my gripe with Verizon’s On-Demand service is that when you go to the On-Demand menu, they immediately start showing trailers for movies that are otherwise blocked by the parental controls I’ve set. The trailers themselves ought to be rated R based on their content.

So here I am, scrolling to get to the kid and family movies and they’re showing trailers for shit like “Last House on the Left” If you’re not familiar with that film (the original OR the remake) it’s a delightful story about rape, torture and revenge. Of course, that’s not the only completely inappropriate trailer that’s come on while my kids are sitting beside me hoping to find “Horton Hears  Who” or “Wall-E” or whatever. It’s just the one that finally made me Lose. My. Shit.

My odyssey into the world of corporate buck-passing started with a phone call to Verizon customer support. I demanded to know how to change my settings so we won’t have to be a captive audience and watch said previews while searching for children’s entertainment. I’m told, “Sorry!  There is no way to do that”.

Not satisfied, I comb Verizon’s web sites searching for some kind of venue in which I can file a complaint. Nothing but a general form that limits you to 700 characters—gah.  I leave a message asking someone to contact me. They do. I tell them my issue. They say they’ll have someone call me.

They do. I tell the person who calls me my issue. They can’t help me. They transfer me to someone else.

They can’t help me. They transfer me to someone else.

That guy says he’s NEVER heard anyone complain about the trailers on On-Demand before. I tell him I find that hard to believe. He tells me there is no venue for a complaint like mine and to basically GIVE UP.

Infuriated, I ask to speak to someone else. I get thrown back into the customer service phone hell that I originally called and I tell my whole story AGAIN and of course,  (everyone say it with me!) THEY CAN’T HELP ME.

I ask to speak to a supervisor.

I’m told by the supervisor that my best bet is to send a letter via snail mail. I tell her that’s not good enough because my letter will end up in a stack of other letters, I will never hear from anyone and that will be it.

She is sympathetic and says she will have HER supervisor call me on Monday. (Shockingly, nobody ever calls me)

That same day, I get on Twitter and start raising a stink about being given the run around by Verizon, about how their customer service is terrible, about how I have a legitimate complaint that involves children and families. I include every official Verizon username on Twitter in my 140 character diatribes. I figure if Dooce can use Twitter to make Maytag jump through hoops of fire and replace her lemon of a dryer, maybe little old me can get someone from Verizon to at least HEAR ME.

Nothing happens. Nobody from Verizon replies.

A week later, someone from Verizon FINALLY replies to one of my tweets.

I ask them point blank how to block the trailers on On-Demand so that they reflect the settings on our parental controls. I expect the same answer I’ve been given over and over  (sorry, that can’t be done!) but I figure it’s worth putting it out there and getting it on SOMEONE’S radar screen so maybe someday they will change that.

Well, lo and behold, he sends me back a link and says “this will tell you how to do it”.

I follow the link and it takes me to a page on the Verizon site and there it says that “And recently some have been e-mailing us here to say that they object to some of the things that are out there” (that’s not what it said when I went there last month—they’ve majorly edited the page and completely changed the wording) and how they are super duper concerned about shielding children from inappropriate content yada yada—and here is how you change it…instructions follow. I try it and it works. But I also note that the option to block promotional material absolutely DID NOT EXIST previously in that menu

Also? It says THIS, which I can assure you is wholly inaccurate (also known as BULLSHIT). They showed whatever they damn well pleased without a second thought to who might be watching for the entire three years that we’ve had their service. THREE YEARS:

First, let me note that Verizon has long had a policy that we will not air questionable content in our on-demand trailers.  We edit out mature content, and try to keep our on-demand trailers family-friendly.  In a few cases where that policy was not followed, we made changes as soon as we were aware of the problem.

So anyway, I go back and look at the date on the post on the Verizon site and it’s exactly ONE WEEK after I spent 2 hours on the phone with a minimum of five Verizon employees being told repeatedly that there was NO WAY to do this and that NOBODY else had ever complained about this issue. ONE WEEK after being told someone would call me on Monday (and never did) and ONE WEEK after I twittered myself silly addressing all available Verizon usernames.

Call me arrogant, call me delusional, call me Donna Quixote if you want but I firmly believe that *I* made Verizon change their system. If there was no way to do it before and NOBODY had ever complained about it before, according to THEM, then it was me. *I* brought this issue to their attention and *I* made them fix it and honestly, I’m way proud of myself for not giving up on this and I’m even prouder to have proven that one little voice CAN make a difference.

But really, I can’t take full credit. Some of it goes to the Verizon rep who told me to GIVE UP…  So THANK YOU, O’ STUPID VERIZON GUY. I owe at least a fraction of my awesomeness to you.


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