Verizon Wireless recently claimed a Damascus, Oregon, couple owed them over $2 million for one month on a wireless phone plan.
“Your total amount due is $2,156,593.64,” the automated phone line of Verizon Wireless told Ken Slusher when he called to check his balance with FOX 12’s Jamie Wilson listening in.
Slusher and his girlfriend opened an account with Verizon in November and purchased two phones. They canceled the service after one month because of major discrepancies on their bills.
The first bill should have been around $120, it was $698, with a previously owed balance of $451, Slusher said. The next statement was for just $9.
"The number of errors and the comedy of which they happened is astounding to me," Slusher said.
In December, Slusher canceled the service and returned the phones to a local Verizon store in January.
Then the collection notices started coming, claiming they owed more than $2,000.
After months and multiple conversations with customer service agents at Verizon, who all agreed there was a billing error, no resolution occurred.
Then, according to Verizon, Slusher and his girlfriend somehow owed more than $2 million.
The issue is especially difficult for the couple because they are about to purchase a house and need to make sure they can secure the mortgage. If they have an outstanding balance on their credit of more than $2 million, lenders are unlikely to accept them.
A Verizon spokesman admitted the company’s collection system made an error but claims it has been corrected.
"We have apologized to an Oregon customer for a programming error in an automated voice response system," the spokesman said. "The error caused him to receive an incorrect voice message that he owed $2 million on his bill. We have corrected the error and have resolved the issue to his satisfaction."
The spokesman did not deny the failure of Verizon’s customer service in the case.
"We had several opportunities to resolve this issue and failed to do so," the spokesman admitted to Chris Matyszcyzk at CNET. "It would be a gross understatement to say this is a learning opportunity, but I'll say it anyway. We're looking very carefully at what happened and why so we can make changes and do better next time."
Verizon has corrected their mistake and cleared the balance on Slusher's account. They have also alerted the three major credit reporting agencies and asked that all "negative debt and any derogatory notations" be removed from the couple's history.