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Journal Journal: Verizon oversold UFC100 PPV, failed to deliver

Just thought I would tell the story of what happened to us tonight. I am not sure how widespread the problem was, but I suspect there were many people with the same experience... although I know that no news story has hit the wire... yet

I live a little north of Seattle WA. My martial arts teacher has been very excited over the last few months about UFC 100, which happened tonight. He had Fios installed in the martial arts club, replacing his old internet and phone service, because he wanted to be able to watch the fights. He talked about this for more than a month and invited a few good friends to come to the club tonight and watch. He called yesterday and talked to verizon service to make sure there would be no problem and that the fight was ordered. They assured him that everything would be great. He moved an old (non HD) big screen into the club and hooked everything up. This was not a business thing, just a few friends in a closed martial arts club, after hours, eating chips, drinking pop, and very excited about the historic night, you can picture the scene...

I arrived a few minutes after the fights were to start, right before the club owner, who cut short a weekend at his cabin (a 3+ hour drive away) to come back for the fights. Everybody was already pissed. Our friend was on the phone... on hold and the screen said press OK to order this PPV event. Pressing OK bounced back to the same screen. We started to get updates online about the fights we were missing and he continued to hold. Club owner arrived and eventually they got a person on the phone who answered "lemme guess, UFC right?". They explained the situation and the guy demands we power down the box and the TV and back on again, confirms the account shows it should be working and the charge went through. I already knew this guy didn't know what he was talking about because the TV did not need to be power cycled, it was connected to the box with regular analog composite video, and showing the menu fine... the box couldn't know if the TV was on or off.

After a few minutes on the phone the guy explains that everything was fine now and he was "pushing it through" and it would take about 3 or 4 minutes to go from "server to server". He then hung up! We waited, thinking we had only missed a couple fights and the night wasn't a bust yet. Nothing happened. About 15 minutes later our friend gets back on the phone and waits for another 40 minutes to talk to somebody. She promised not to disconnect until the fights were actually on. He talked to her, power cycled the box... and the TV (sigh) again. nothing. My teacher was looking online and saw that some people have had trouble with the credit limits and ordering PPV events on Verizon. She said she had just checked that, and it wasn't the problem, but she upped the credit limit anyway. Said the charge had already posted to the account and it should be working. Said she was "pushing it through" and we should see the fights soon. Several minutes later she said there must be a technical problem and she would transfer us directly to a tech support person for some help.

20 minutes of holding later a tech support genius came on and had us power cycle the box... and TV (sigh again) one more time. He "checked a few more things" said that everything was fine and should be working, the charge was posted to the account fine... the TV had to be hooked up right to get to that screen... the box seemed fine... still no fights. By the way, if I wasn't clear the lady who promised to stay on the line was long gone. The guy finally said that "too many people had ordered the fight" and there was nothing he could do. He said the system was completely overloaded.

Tech support genius then said he could get us the replay of the fight on MONDAY... for full price. He said there was no way we would get anything at this point (now almost 2 hours into the event). We told him since our party was tonight it made no sense to get a PPV replay for two days from now, and that we would have the fights online by then. He sort of apologized. So we asked that we get a refund posted to the account since no service was going to be delivered. He said he couldn't do that, would have to transfer us back to the other department, but they were very busy and we would probably have to hold for a very long time (don't we know it!). He suggested we call back next week sometime so we wouldn't have to hold quite as long, and ask for the refund. We looked at the timer on the phone and this second call had taken well over an hour!

The weirdest part of the night was after our buddy had been on hold for the second call, for about 20 minutes, the club owner called the same number on his cell phone and got through to a rep 5 minutes faster than the other guy! The phone system wasn't even assigning the calls in the order received!

The lesson learned is that I wouldn't touch anything verizon with a 10 foot pole, and I will tell everyone who listens to stay away also. What should have been a fun Saturday with friends turned into a complete waste of time... and somebody still has to call and beg for a refund.

a complete failure in EVERY way

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