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What Big Comm is communicating: Give us your dough, get lost
Verizon's ubiquitous advertising hides customer service shortcomings that made simple installation of DSL a nightmare.

  Richard Amrhine's archive
  E-mail Richard Amrhine
Date published: 1/1/2006


AS UNLIKELY as it seems, we have an occasional communication breakdown here in the newsroom. When that happens, someone will always say, sarcastically, "Communication is our business."

But there is nothing funny when a major communications technology corporation offers a service to millions of potential customers, but then is unable to communicate intelligently with them.

Our world is awash in communications technology and people are drawn to it like kids to candy. But the AOLs and Verizons of the world seem to view customers more as wallets than as people who are counting on the new technology to actually work.

I bet that one day we'll be able to have a computer chip implanted in our brains that will let us send messages telepathically. For example, do you know what I think when that Verizon guy asks, "Can you hear me now?" See? It works even without the chip.

Verizon, a telecommunications giant, is the perfect example of a company that spends millions to advertise but fails to recognize its most basic customer service shortcomings. You might think that it would strive to communicate clearly with the customers it is trying to attract, but you would be wrong.

Today we are not talking about Verizon, the phone company, but rather Verizon, the DSL Internet provider, of which I recently became a home-subscriber.

On a scale that ranges from people who don't know a computer chip from a chocolate chip, to those who could take a computer apart and reassemble it with their teeth, I am somewhere in the middle. Software doesn't scare me. Internal hardware does. I've done my share of downloading, but if I've ever uploaded anything I didn't know it, I swear.

I have been in denial for years about dial-up Internet service. I figured it should be as routine as making a phone call, and that the technology would improve over time. What an absurd notion that turned out to be.

DSL? No problem. Ha!

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