Free phone service restored

7 On Your Side with Nina Pineda

Seven On Your Side
June 18, 2012 3:09:14 PM PDT
To say she's "feisty" is an understatement. She been around 83 years, and isn't about to get cheated out of her retirement benefit now.

"I don't like the way they treated me," Ruth said.

By "they' she means Verizon. The service provider recently sent this letter to the Yonkers resident in March, stating her landline was switching over to Fiber optics.

"There is absolutely no charge to make this transition. You keep the same voice service at the same rate," she said, reading the letter.

Ruth's rate was zero and has been ever since she retired from New York Telephone in 1976 after more than 30 years on the job. At her retirement party, she was given free phone service for life.

"I started working for them in 1945 at the end of World War II," she explained.

The 17 year old was not yet wed. She would meet her future husband after the troops were welcomed home. The telephone industry was growing by leaps and bounds and Ruth weathered all the transitions.

"There were more changes than you could shake a stick at," Ruth said.

New York Tel, a baby Bell, would eventually be bought by Verizon. Her free phone benefit survived all its changes until her neighborhood went FiOs this Spring. Ruth rates started to rise. Her bills ballooned, plus her phone line went dead.

"I've had absolutely no help when I call their office. They paid no attention to me. They kept saying to me, you don't have that anymore," she explained.

Her appeal to the benefits office went nowhere. The reason? They couldn't get her on the phone!

"I'm sorry I've lived this long. I don t think it made them that happy. They probably would've preferred if I died prior to this, but I still have my faculties and I can handle my own business," Ruth said.

She got down to business by calling 7 On Your Side on her cell.

"Unfortunately, one of the reps made an error," Verizon Vice President Tom Maquire said.

A day and a half later, Maquire, the same VP who signed Ruth's and hundreds of thousands of customer letters to let them know rates would not change, was at her door, in person.

"She reached out to you guys, you reached out to us and we took care of it," he said.

Her landline works and her rate returns to free.



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