@VerizonWireless Makes An Epic Social Media Failure

Let’s just go right at this. If you are a smart phone user of any type, and your network provider forces applications on your phone, then this post is for you. If you are a smart phone user whose network provider forces you to use their applications, then you are not alone.

I recently upgraded the OS on my Motorola Razr Android phone . To my horror, Verizon Wireless made changes during that upgrade to control my phone and what apps I decide to use. As if this isn’t bad enough, they made an even bigger fail that will have long term impacts if I have anything to say about it.

We live in a tech world online that has come to recognize the user as the customer and the one who has ultimate control. Jeopardize that and they will leave. The wireless industry doesn’t seem to get this. YET!

We pay a significant price for our smart phones and often even larger expenses for the phone, internet and application access we want. Wireless network providers, specifically Verizon Wireless, is crossing the line with three epic failures.

1) Forcing installation and upgrading of applications (bloatware) I don’t want, never asked for and that I can’t remove from MY phone.

Have you noticed your smart phone has apps that you can’t remove, are always upgrading and you never installed or wanted them to begin with? It’s MY phone and I bought it. I should be able to determine which apps I want to install. (Before everyone starts commenting on rooting phones, let me say this… I shouldn’t have to!)  FAIL number 1 Verizon Wireless!

2) Forcing users to use THEIR navigation application VZ Navigator every time I dock my phone in my car.

Every single time I dock my phone in my holder/charger in the car, the VZ Navigator application launches. I don’t want the app, don’t like the app and should not be forced to click a bunch of screens to get out of it every time I get in my car. This speaks to the heart of controlling your customer and it is an epic FAIL number 2 I might add… *Additional information on this portion can be found in the bold revision section below.

3) The biggest fail of all is ignoring comments on Twitter and Facebook.

Seriously? I thought big brands already got the message from the many before them that tried this tactic and ended up getting national attention for the fail. I guess not. In fact, since they ignored some 12 tweets on Saturday, I decided to also hit the Facebook fanpage and attempt to start a conversation there.

After several hours of zero response, I went back to the page to see additional posts by others and how VZW handles their social media. I was utterly SHOCKED to see screen after screen of customer posts of positive AND negative comments with absolutely no responses from Verizon. Are you fricken kidding me? EPIC FAIL number 3!

Below are revisions I inserted Sunday night before posting Monday morning:

__________________________________________________________________________

*Note to the credit of the Verizon tech support team on Twitter, I did get the following responses which started almost 24 hours later. But it’s not a tech support issue, as the application cannot be uninstalled either. It is a top down corporate power play that management has decided and is pushing on its customers. Only the executive team can make the decision to control users phones, install apps that cannot be removed and not put proper social media practices and resources in place. Tech support does not make those kinds of business decisions.

Again, the Twitter tech support team did make a valiant social media save attempt by researching more and getting back to me with the following thread.

@fondalo 1/3 I researched this, and it will be fixed in the next software update (this wasn’t by design). Work around: 1) Find VZNav in the

@fondalo 2/3 the app launcher. 2)Touch & hold app which will drop to home screen. 3)Drag up to top of screen to “More Options.” 4) Tap “App

@fondalo 3/3 info”. 5) Force stop, uninstall updates, and disable the app (this step may take a couple tries). This has worked for many. ^MS

It wasn’t by design? Really? Ok, let’s say it wasn’t by design and just horrible planning and implementation. That happens. But the fact remains that:

1) The app cannot be disabled or removed.

2) Verizon Wireless corporate social media ignored these issues.

3) Verizon Wireless corporate social media is ignoring a massive amount of comments, complaints and issues across the board on all of their network locations. If that is not epic fail of a major brand in the social age, I don’t know what is.

__________________________________________________________________________

Please understand, I have been a very long time user and advocate of Verizon Wireless. In fact I have probably referred or suggested to at least a thousand users that they switch. I know that many have.

I am not trying to get something for nothing or bully a brand for some personal gain. I am attempting to point out the absolute control mentality that the Verizon Wireless executives feel is okay to place on its customers, their disregard for enagement, response and value of customers within the social graph and a clear display that they have no clue of what social media is all about. Their belief that it’s perfectly alright to control us, our phones and out app choices is so behind the times that it requires a bullhorn to call it out. Verizon Wireless would do well to move some of their Twitter support team to corporate social media and start getting kudos instead of posts like this! Their support folks clearing understand social media far better than the executives. Some consulting, strategy and education is in order guys. Call me…

Wouldn’t it be awesome if everyone who read this posted the following on Facebook and Twitter? (Feel free to insert the twitter account or Facebook page of your own wireless provider as needed)

“Hey @VerizonWireless It’s MY phone, I bought it and I should be able to decide which apps I want to install, use and delete, NOT YOU! #TheMovement”

Imagine if the people started a movement in this and other industries to take control BACK! Want to start a revolution? I do!!

The Wrap Up:

If you do social media marketing and have a page, twitter account, etc., there is a very big lesson here:

Big brands typically don’t do social media right or effectively. Do not watch and emulate them in your social efforts. They often feel that they are above responding because they easily get millions of followers and likes due to their years of branding and major media spends. YOU must always respond, build relationships and handle issues promptly, so that you see revenue, results and long-term loyal prospects and customers…

Robert M. Caruso
@fondalo
Founder/CEO – Bundle Post 

My next post will go in the opposite direction and highlight a big brand that is nailing social media!

35 Comments

Filed under Facebook, FAIL, Fanpage, Followers, Marketing, Social Media, Social Media Management, Social Media Marketing, Strategy, Twitter, Uncategorized

35 responses to “@VerizonWireless Makes An Epic Social Media Failure

  1. Great post, Robert. You know this very well, but…as always…it bears repeating: a large part of doing social business is REPUTATION MANAGEMENT. The good, the bad and the downright ugly have to be dealt with, with a professional manner and an alacrity that many of the big name biz accounts don’t seem to understand. Watching that @mention is vital. Checking PMs is too. But so often ignored. YIKES.

  2. You are so right Robert. I have been getting more and more upset about this too. I have a number of apps that I can’t uninstall either, but I sure would like to. I have joined your movement, retweeted this as well.

  3. Tena Carr

    I totally agree with you…. You should not be forced to use (or even have installed) an app that you don’t want to use. Likewise if company is going to render an app useless on a phone (or change it’s pay-level) then it should be able to be completely uninstalled (as is the experience that MetroPCS users now have w/ Metro Navigator)

  4. I actually ditched VZW and went on a prepaid plan with Straight talk. $45 a month for unlimited Talk, Text, and Web. I bought the GSM Unlocked Galaxy Nexus and am loving it. Don’t expect much in the service department for $45 but haven’t had issues yet.

    • doing that kind of thing is certainly an option Matt. But we shouldn’t have to. Running a company like ours, price isn’t the biggest thing. Service, connectivity, etc are. But they have got to make some changes!

      • I did it mainly to get out of a contract. This way I am not tied anywhere. Also connectivity has not been an issue as of yet. ST uses either AT&T or T-Mo’s bandwidth so I even get their HSPA speeds. They do have to make changes but the only way they will hear the consumer is by leaving.

      • Maybe not the ONLY way. Social media is a powerful tool for business AND the consumer…

      • Yes it is but I am guessing that since they have been bundling bloatware since the Blackberry days, it will not change quickly. They didn’t care back then (and at least you could delete those!)

  5. Tim

    Your best post yet. And it’s not just Verizon – all telecom and cable companies have become rent-seeking entities, dedicating substantial resources to controlling customer behavior rather than creating new value for the customer.
    There is a market opportunity here (black market?) for disabling smartphone carrier tracking and any add-ons that serve the carrier rather than the customer.

    • I agree in part Tim. However we should not HAVE to do any of that. I’d rather create a revolution that changes the industry, rather than have to resort to black market or rooting of phones.

  6. I’ll say I’m amazed, yet not shocked, that they are not responding to their Facebook and Twitter posts. This is one thing I use as an example when I teach small businesses how to use social media effectively. Respond. Respond quickly. Whether posts are positive or negative- respond!
    A statistic from an Entrepreneur.com article showed the disconnect- of the Fortune 500, 298 were using Twitter (article written in 2010). Of those 298, only 103 consistently responded within 72 hours, which I still consider way too long!
    If you want to force customers to have apps on their phones, you’d better be willing to talk about it. Otherwise, be prepared for the backlash that not responding in social media can create.

    • you got that right Drew. I even posted this article ON their fanpage. Clearly they are not watching or putting any resources to their social. Controlling users and their phones is just not gonna stand either.

      Thanx for the comments buddy!

  7. #Fail, is an understatement. You are correct in all of this and in how much money we all spend in regard to cell phones. Sounds like a recent conversation I recently had with an app company, when using their mobile app version purchase upgrade for my conference. Bummer! I have these same kinds of apps on T-Mobile that I have tried multiple times to uninstall to no avail. They have us by the bawls and I hate that.

  8. Reblogged this on BarCamp Sarasota and commented:
    I had a friend who was just complaining about this update on Saturday!

    Would you ignore your customers? Do you think that would be wise?

  9. Big brands are usually the worst at social media because they have outsourced it to some firm that is only PAID to watch that feed from Monday to Friday 8-5pm. #FAIL indeed.

    • not just post and monitor nothing at all. It’s how we get these stories and move them to a more effective and proper social strategy and function. I could name many that messed up and were forced into doing it right…

  10. Dawn

    Perhaps a more specific hashtag would create more awareness. Did you search #TheMovement before picking that? I was going to RT the above, but noticed it wouldn’t have really stood out among the other tweets.

    Thanks for bringing this to our attention, though– just another reason to be annoyed with Verizon. They need to take a step back and rethink some things quickly.

    Did you see the article about tethering apps they tried to prohibit users from using? http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2012/07/tethering-apps-must-be-allowed-fcc-tells-verizon/

  11. So my only complaint about your article is that I was all convinced to move from AT&T to Verizon and now I am back to confusion and research again. Thanks a lot!

    • I know, and I was the one that made the suggestion for you. Having said all this, they are correcting the problem with the VX Navigator app auto launching and have said it was in error. That’s what started this whole thing. However ALL providers install bloatware and it’s just not acceptable. Not responding in social media is epic fail.

      Best wireless network coverage though? no doubt…

  12. Robert,

    I too have had a ton of issues with @VerizonWireless. When I owned a droid, I think I spent more time dealing with them than I did drinking coffee. The droid system is just terrible – period – and I cannot believe I’m hearing reports that it is out-selling the iPhone.

    As soon as I switched to the iPhone 4s, my smartphone world changed completely. Not that I’m in love with Verizon — Their customer service still sucks. But the quality of the device is sooo much better that I have to deal with them less.

    I’d switch providers if it made any sense, but here in Quaker-land, Ohio, they’ve created a monopoly that keeps me where I am. Talk about red-hot mad at something that shouldn’t happen….

    I’m in for the movement. I got your back, Jack!! :D

    ~Keri

    • I actually love my Android. Works flawlessly and the Verizon connectivity is second to none. Their bloatware and social policies might make me switch. Unacceptable!

      Appreciate you Keri!!!

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  14. I’m right there with you, Robert. And in spite of hearing that Verizon service is head and shoulders above any of its competitors, I am thisclose to switching. The lame excuse I have heard about the bloatware is that Verizon installs it to “keep the cost of smart phones affordable.” How about letting ME decide how much I should pay, or if I can afford one? I don’t need a bunch of unwanted bloatware taking up my memory space and constantly bugging me to update. I don’t want to use your choice of browser, or map search, or navigation, or anything else YOU put on my phone. And while we’re at it, how is your service so stellar if it keeps dropping my calls, or not connecting to me when someone calls me? It’s not like I’m far from your cell towers wherever I go! And when I think of how much I pay you for this garbage…

  15. Without a doubt I agree that Verizon has the best coverage but the fact that I don’t have ‘complete’ control over something I’ve invested in is insanely frustrating. I would love to help you broadcast this Robert. Thank you for such a great post and let me know if you decide to change the hashtag so I can copy, paste & post my little heart out. As for big business and how they’re handling their social media, not only do they outsource, they still don’t understand the value of “people capital” and that hiring someone with a service-oriented, marketing mentality is paramount to their success. Oftentimes they hire students who clearly don’t have the maturity to know how to turn a negative into a positive or they’re the receptionist who’s commenting in between phone calls. I had a very negative experience with CenturyLink so I tweeted them asking for help. Nothing. I went to their Facebook Page and after 2 days of commenting, I finally got a reply: “Call our 800 # and they’ll be happy to help.” Umm….( I was thinking as I hovered my fingers over the keyboard)..”.you cut my lines and I have no internet and it’s seriously affecting my business and it’s been several days… can you please have someone call ME?” Nothing. I called the number and was put on hold for 18 minutes before I hung up. Back to Twitter. After 10 days of hell, a VP from a local internet provider sent me a message on Facebook stating that they’d heard through Facebook that I’d been having trouble with CenturyLink. They had my problem fixed within 24 hours and I am now a VERY loyal customer of Montana Sky. Just like Robers story, CenturyLinks page was riddled with negative comments that weren’t being addressed. I told this story at one of my presentations and I got a call from a VP at CenturyLink the next day. He’d been at my presentation and clearly upset, he asked why I shared that story in a room filled with 250 people. I told him it was a shame that he’d missed an opportunity to show me how much he cared when his audience had 10,000 in the room. #SMM = #ServiceMentalityMarketing. ;-) Can’t wait for your follow up to this Robert! AFTER Verizon hires you to teach them how it’s done.

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  17. Can’t believe I’m just now seeing this post! At any rate, I am a T-Mobile customer.And while their prices for plans are great, and coverage also pretty good, they too sold me an expensive Android phone with a ton of apps I don’t want and can’t delete. Them I get a bunch of warnings about the phone running out of memory! But can I delete the apps I don’t wan to clear space? Of course not. Extremely frustrating.

    • I hear ya Pat. Very frustrating…

    • Tena Carr

      Pat, Yeah I got same problem on my Android phone (MetroPCS) get low phone memory message (or phone just automatically shuts down – in middle of what I’m doing). Like you = can’t delete unwanted/unusable apps; No, instead I have to constantly delete pictures, text messages, gmail (which must be done from an actual puter).

      Have to wonder if this is an Android phone problem or if iPhones have this problem?

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