It has been a couple of weeks since the article about ZVRS and their terrible customer service was posted. It’s only fair to follow up and share what the results of that chaotic interaction was. The Vice President of Telesales and Logistics, Mike Strecker took the time to email me and directly apologize for my experience with ZVRS. Here are a few things that he said in his email and my thoughts: (thoughts are in bold)

Being on the east coast, we train all of our representatives at ZVRS to be aware of the time zones when contacting our customers. We do not condone nor encourage 6am wake-up calls. The representative that was responsible for this has already received follow-up training on the matter.

I’m happy to hear that the individual has received further training. Sometimes people simply need a reminder, others are not fully trained prior to being placed on the job and can make these mistakes regularly. I’m not placing any assumptions on what happened with this individual but believe this was a good move on their part.

Regarding your article, I would like to first thank you for your candid feedback. As a business, sometimes it takes a nice slice of humble pie to improve, or to at least identify where one needs to provide more training. In regards to the communication that took place at the expo, we do not collect your information in order to justify expenses with the FCC. Like any company providing handouts or other promotional material at a show, we ask customers to provide us with their info so that we can follow-up with them at a later time and try to win their business or to at least send them updates regarding our company and/or services. Since this article went out, we’ve reinforced this message to our representatives that work trade-shows to ensure they clearly understand this distinction. From a point of clarification, the FCC does allow us to do marketing in addition to outreach. The main difference is, with marketing, we basically have to eat that expense and it is not reimbursed by the fund.

This is a great point that many people have been trying to emphasize – FCC does NOT spend money on marketing. They only pay for outreach. Any marketing efforts (including free products i.e. tablets or car chargers) are paid for out of the company’s profits. This is one reason why people need to be more appreciative of products that they get from companies for free. While a small car charger may not be much money, it is still money they are spending to give back to the community. Again, I’m not sure what happened with the representative that misled me but it could’ve been a misunderstanding during his training sessions and hopefully this has been cleared up adequately!

You also mentioned the “porting war” between ZVRS and Sorenson and its focus on free tablets. Since the introduction of VRS, there has always been competition between the providers. That competition is no different today than it was 5 years ago. Whether it was a Sorenson customer porting to ZVRS’s Z340, Z20, Z150 or ZOJO. Today they are porting to the Z5 on a tablet, tomorrow it could be something else. As long as you have a provider with 80% market share and competition within the market place, providers will be trying to win over customers.

Porting war – Yes, while many people believe that porting wars are a more recent incident, it is not. This particular situation was more focused on the fact that many people are taking advantage of situations such as this one, it goes back to the concept that while ZVRS gets outreach money, this is again, not covered by outreach funds from FCC. Be considerate of companies spending their money to retain you, don’t take advantage of them!

Competition is a great thing for the Deaf Community. It has been the driving force behind a lot of innovation, both feature and technology wise. It also forces providers to ensure they hire quality interpreters. At ZVRS, we only hire certified interpreters with at least 3 to 5 years of community interpreting experience. I’d love to hear your feedback regarding the quality of our interpreting as it’s the real product we provide.

Yes, Competition to a point.

If you would like to discuss further, I’d love to have a call with you. It would allow me to collect more feedback and also clarify any additional questions you may have.

Now, this is the part that was most impressive. I had called him within minutes of receiving this email assuming he would be available to talk. At the time, he asked me to give him a couple minutes and that he would call me back in fifteen minutes on VP. While I wasn’t sure if he was hearing or Deaf, I assumed this would be just another standard VP conversation.

It isn’t what was said during the conversation that impressed me but what he did. Michael Strecker is not a perfect signer nor does he have the speed of signing needed to carry a conversation at a normal pace however what he did was introduced himself in ASL, told me that he really wanted to interact with me over VP and for me to be able to see his face, his responses, and to know that he is fully invested into this conversation. Then he informed me that he had an interpreter on the side (who interpreted the conversation) and he wanted this to be a comfortable conversation for both of us.

Michael Strecker

VP Telesales and Logistics

Ever since the conversation we had, he has responded like lightening to my emails, made sure everything is working out, and has been on top of everything for me anytime I needed anything. This man has made the world of a difference for the company and its image in my head. I want to say this, if their VP of Telesales is going to care enough to call me because of a letter I posted online, he cares enough about all of you to make sure his customer service people are trained and re-trained when there are issues. I would highly recommend that if anybody has any problems, they make sure they try to communicate with a customer service representative for further resolutions. 

I hope the process becomes easier however one thing that was pointed out to me during the conversation is because of high numbers of fraudulent activity going on, they are becoming more and more strenuous about giving out products.