Does Verizon hate the poor — or is it just our entire society?

My friend Joi is a bleeding-heart artist. You know the type, the friend we all have who ends up nursing sick animals and remembers every birthday with a home-made gift? The friend that just can’t get a break, but not because she isn’t trying.

Joi lost a lot in the flooding last year in Denham Springs, Louisiana. She’s currently building out an old school bus (210 sq. ft.) to call home with her sister. They need a little bit of money to have it approved by the state.

But when she checked her bank account this morning, Verizon had pushed through two additional unauthorized charges, on top of charging her twice for her new phone. (One was delivered to the wrong house and though the wrong person signed for it, Verizon insisted she pay for the second phone also)

Joi’s bank account now has $7.00 even in it. She spent a total of 26.5 hours on the phone with Verizon this week. “Jim” the last Verizon representative that she spoke with, laughed at her and made it clear he was hanging up on her deliberately. When she called back, customer service had closed for the night.

We talked about it, and she refused a loan from me because she’s not sure how easy it will be for her to pay back. I’m writing this story because the way that Verizon treated her today, insisting that “company policy mandated” that she only receive store credit, is indicative of how we treat our poor in general, and just generally fries me.

Even though I’m in tech and live in San Francisco now, I’ve been there. I’ve called Wells Fargo in tears, begging them to reverse $210 in overdraft fees because I wasn’t sure how else I’d buy ramen. (Wells Fargo’s “company policy mandated” that they only refund 75%)

Why can’t we treat our poor with dignity? Verizon, when will you return the $360 you owe Joi? She’s concerned that if she loses her home her pets will be euthanized at a shelter.

UPDATE: Verizon placed a hold on Joi’s account after hanging up on her, and Joi no longer has access to the wifi hotspot that she HAS ALREADY PAID FOR, probably twice. (11:34 AM, Tuesday May 9th)

UPDATE: Someone asked for a link to Joi’s artwork:

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