May 06, 2005
Verizon: The Nicest People on Earth
Posted by Gordon Smith

Earlier this week, my family switched mobile telephone providers. We left Nextel in favor of Verizon. We considered Cingular -- I like the rollover minutes -- but Verizon gets better reviews, and we have some friends who already use Verizon, which is important because network calls are not counted against plan minutes. Cingular advertises its "50 million lines and counting," but Verizon is close behind with 43.5 million. Of course, what really matters is not the total number of customers, but the number of customers within my circle of contacts, and in that circle, Verizon is king.

Now, I wouldn't have written about this at all but for the extraordinary experience I have had with Verizon people. It started with my first conversation at the Verizion booth in the mall. As I explained to the Verizon rep that I was thinking about switching from Nextel, the woman next to me interrupted her own conversation and then mine to say, "You won't regret it. Verizon is wonderful!"

"A plant?" I inquried with my rep, who chuckled, then took off to collect various bits of propoganda. Within 15 minutes, I had settled on a plan and was inquiring after phones. We ended up with four of this one, but as I was getting the grand tour, another Verizon customer tapped me on the shoulder and said, "These guys are great." This was getting strange.

As my Verizon rep (Rob Lewis) rang up my order, we struck up a more personal conversation. If this were New York or LA, Rob would probably be an aspiring actor or writer. In Madison, aspiring PhDs take these jobs. Rob is ABD in History, and he is writing a dissertation on the history of stadia, which turns out to me more interesting than it sounds. (Sort of a cross between sports history and urban development.) Anyway, his girlfriend is the daughter of the former dean of Lewis & Clark Law School, and she is headed for law school next year. Rob said that just that morning she had been speaking with my good friend Jim Huffman, current dean at Lewis & Clark Law School. At this point, I am starting to wonder if this is The Truman Show, only with me as the star.

Since acquiring the phones earlier this week, I have had various occasions to call Verizon customer service. Nothing that would reflect badly on Verizon -- Nextel delayed in releasing one of my old numbers and I have had several questions about restrictions on my calling plan. Each customer service call has been an unbelievably pleasant experience as the Verizon reps tripped over themselves to be helpful. I'm not sure how they do it, but Verizon is doing something right.

And just in case you're wondering, I am not a BzzAgent for Verizon.

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