March 2019 Update
The threat to cancel method no longer works as of March 2019. Verizon used to offer “Valued Customer” discount of various amounts for 12 months on top of your current pricing when you renegotiate. That’s not happening any more.
At this point, you have to actually disconnect and lose internet access, then re-sign up with Fios to get the better pricing. This method would not work before, because Verizon stated that one would not qualify for promotional pricing if one had Fios service in the last 30 days. That policy is no longer in the terms of the current new deals. People have reported successful cancellation and reactivation in the same day.
Obviously this is still a major step backwards. It sucks to not have Internet, even just for a day, not to mention the hassle of disconnecting, possibly having to return old equipment and then re-installing. But it works.
Verizon Fios has been offering some good deals (see for example here and here) since the holiday shopping season, but they are “Limited-time online offer for new Fios Internet residential customers”. What if you already have Fios? Can you still get these promotional offers, and if so, how?
This post contains information regarding ordering, upgrading, moving and canceling Verizon Fios from my personal experience dealing with Fios (and trying to pay fair price for my Internet service) over the years.
There are two common but flawed approaches.
Doesn’t work: “Move” to the same address
This method doesn’t work for two reasons.
- Verizon doesn’t let you order new service if you have had service under the same name at the same address in the last 30 days. There is supposed to be a verification step in the system that checks new orders for this. That said, whether it’s automated or done by human I don’t know. So there is a chance that such an order could slip through. But technically that does not happen.
- A moving customer is ineligible for promotional offers. You won’t see promotional pricing when you go through the moving process on Verizon.com. Which makes sense given Verizon policy, because a moving customer is an existing customer, not a new customer.
Kinda works but not really: Sign up for new service under roommate’s/wife’s/boyfriend’s/parent’s name
This method works (in the sense that you are able to get promotional pricing), but has its drawbacks.
- Credit check is required for new orders.
- You have an SSN option and non-SSN option.
- SSN-based credit check is completely online, but it adds a pull on your credit report.
- Non-SSN credit check starts online, but
- You could be required to call Verizon “credit verification department” because Verizon cannot fully identify you through its online questionnaire. Until then, your order will not go through.
- $125 security deposit is most likely required; returned after one year.
- Your new order won’t go through if you placed it before scheduling the cancellation of old service. Which makes sense, because there is an existing customer at that address. To solve this,
- Either you provide proof of residency on the new order
- Long processing time. 5 – 10 business days according to one phone agent.
- Or the existing customer calls Verizon to schedule a disconnection date, i.e. cancel service.
- Either you provide proof of residency on the new order
- You would lose internet for one day.
- As a policy, Verizon mandates at least 24 hours between disconnect of old service and setup of new service in order to reduce the possibility of some kind of a mix-up. In other words, disconnection and new install cannot be scheduled on the same day.
- The actual practice varies greatly and depends highly on the specific customer service representative handling your new order. Some agent would happily set disconnection and installation on the same day as if the policy doesn’t exist. Other agent would be super strict at enforcing the 24-hour policy.
- The actual disconnection time of the day on the day of disconnection is unclear. Agent #1 said there are no rules on this. Agent #2 told me 6 AM. Agent #3 said 8 AM.
Which brings me to the last, and recommended method to get promotional pricing:
Recommended approach: Call to cancel, and negotiate for discount or “price match”.
This might be counter-intuitive at first, because waiting on the customer service line is usually the first thing one wants to avoid, and because haggling can be exhausting. But, as I discussed above, the other two options either don’t work or will most likely involve waiting for and talking to a phone agent as well. In fact, you are essentially starting a renegotiation when you call Verizon as the existing customer to cancel service.
Credible threat to cancel service and switch ISP
You can renegotiate for additional discount as long as you have a credible threat to cancel service and switch ISP. I recognize that this alone may be a luxury for many Americans because they simply don’t have more than one broadband internet service provider (ISP) to choose from. Additionally, if you signed a two-year contract, you won’t have a credible threat to cancel, either. More on this in my other post.
Assuming you have a credible threat to cancel service, negotiation is quite straightforward and doesn’t really require much haggling. All you need to do is to mention that you want to cancel. Some phone agents will straight up offer a great discount off your existing service and pricing. Others may not budge at first, at which time you can mention the great deals that are out there, and they will eventually offer something similar. Be polite but firm.
- When the Verizon phone robot asks what you need help with, don’t say “cancellation” or “disconnection”. Say, instead, “upgrade”.
- If you say cancellation and it’s outside regular business hours, you’ll be told to call back later because they “are currently closed”.
- If you say “upgrade”, you’ll be connected to a (probably offshore) human voice in no time even if it’s outside regular business hours. Upgrade and disconnection are handled by the same department.
- I find offshore customer service (and sales) more generous than US-based agents.
- Before you agree to a new offer, always ask the agent to send a new monthly bill estimate to your email so that you can check every detail.
- The addition of a $30 discount may remove an existing $15 discount because some discounts don’t stack. Phone agents don’t always communicate the full breakdown of prices clearly (which, to be fair, is hard to do over the phone).
- Know what you want (service & price) before picking up the phone. Set a budget and stick to that. Phone agents often try to sell you more service for a higher price before they would lower the cost for the same or less service.