TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Kicking the Avaya Habit

Kicking the Avaya Habit

Geoffrey Welsh (reply@newsgroup.please)
Fri, 3 Dec 2004 17:45:12 -0500

Hello, my name is Geoff and I'm an Avayaholic. You might think that
ending a business relationship with the mob or kicking a drug habit is
hard ... until you try cancelling a contract with Avaya. You may
think that I'm exagerrating, and that I'm being insensitive to people
who have substance abuse problems or compulsive habits, but I'm
telling you that dealing with Avaya, while not nearly as devastating
as those problems, is just as hard to stop.

My company closed an office in Georgia earlier this year, and one of
the pieces of equipment salvaged was a Partner key system. Since we
were planning to relocate an office in Virginia, I had the system
shipped there for installation in the new office. Avaya, though, has
changed our plans.

My office facilities manager tells me that a letter was sent to Avaya
in June requesting cancellation of our maintenance contracts which
expired/renewed in September, but the invoices still kept coming. My
boss gave me the name of an Avaya person (we'll call this person "A")
to contact about the continuing invoices so I left a voice mail for
her and sent her an e-mail. She replied to the e-mail saying that she
did not recall working on our account, so I gave her the names of the
people she might have talked to and asked her whether I should be
talking to her or to someone else.

When I had not heard back from her in almost two weeks, I sent another
e-mail asking if she was the person I should be talking to; she
replied and said that she "really would like to assist" me but needed
our account numbers. I sent them. I did not hear back.

Three weeks later we had received another round of invoices issued
since I provided "A" with the account numbers so I called the inquiry
number (which, before letting you talk to a human being about
canceling, forces you to listen to a minute or two on why canceling is
A Bad Thing and you really shouldn't do it) and asked another Avaya
person (we'll call this person "B") why the accounts had not been

I was told politely but firmly that the only way we could cancel was
in writing, on company letterhead, stating our account numbers (we
have two, but that's another story), contract numbers, and "group
code". She informed me that, since we had paid our invoices after
some of the contracts had automatically renewed, that we had
technically accepted the renewal. At this point I wasn't going to
argue about renewals or costs, I just wanted the contracts canceled so
I could move on to other things. I wrote up the FAX, included the
account numbers, contract numbers, group code, and a request for
acknowledgement and sent it off to the phone number she provided.

Five weeks later I have yet another pair of new invoices from Avaya
that completely fail to mention cancellation and threaten to
automatically renew next week the one remaining contract which has not
yet renewed automatically. I call, again listening to the stern
counsel against cancelling, and ask whether they have received our
cancellation letter. I'm informed that they have a letter dated June
that was sent to the wrong address, but not the one I sent via FAX in
October ... and the accounts are not yet cancelled. The person I spoke
to today turns out to be person "A", who offered to help back in
September, but ignored every other e-mail I sent. She did, however,
offer to connect me with "B", who might have my letter in her personal

"B" didn't answer, so I left a voice mail. She replied in e-mail that
she did not receive my FAX and could I send it again to her attention
right away because she was going to be away for some time starting
Monday. I did so. I called back and left a voice mail asking for
confirmation, but have yet to hear back. I don't need to be a gambler
to wager that this FAX won't result in the contracts being canceled,

There is nothing that I can name in polite company that smells worse
than this Avaya situation:

(1) They have a letter requesting cancellation dated June. They say
it was sent to the wrong address, but apparently they have it now
because it is in our file ... but the contract has not been cancelled.

(2) "A" dropped the ball not once but twice.

(3) If Avaya has strict rules about how a customer must request
cancellation, "A" sort of lied by promising to help but not mentioning
this simple but critical fact. If there are no such rules, then "B"
lied blatantly.

(4) Maybe "B" didn't get my FAX. Maybe it would be unreasonable for
me to expect her to let me know that she didn't receive what I told
her I'd be sending promptly. Maybe she hoped the stern lessons
recited by the voice mail system had sunk in and we had changed our
minds. Nonetheless, the FAX was sent to the correct Avaya number and
somebody must have picked it up.

In addition to the standard letterhead stuff, it stated our account
numbers, contract numbers, "group code", the address where the system
was [formerly] installed, the name our company goes by in the U.S.,
the name it used to go by internationally, the name it currently goes
by internationally (all basically the same, except for the words like
Ltd., Inc., Corporation, etc.), the addresses that might have been
associated with our accounts and invoices over the years, and my
e-mail address. Whoever picked it up did not act on it, did not put
it in our file, did not forward it to the person apparently
responsible for our accounts, and did not me about it.

(5) "B" is in no hurry to let me know whether she got the FAX when I
resent it.

No one likes to be cancelled. Lots of contracts have automatic
passive renewal clauses, and I've known lots of companies with
internal communication and organization problems, but could these all
be accidental incidents coincidentally preventing us from canceling,
or am I right to suspect that Avaya is intentionally and
systematically interfering with legitimate attempts to cancel
contracts, perhaps because they feel they have nothing to lose and
continuing payments to gain? In our case they lost an opportunity to
sell a maintenance contract for the very same system in a different
location, and a lasting impression on me that will make me try to
avoid dealing with Avaya ever again.

I share my story in the hopes that someone will learn from our mistake
and not get hooked the way we did.

Geoffrey Welsh <Geoffrey [dot] Welsh [at] bigfoot [dot] com>
LEGAL NOTICE: The content of this message is solely the responsibility of
the author and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of his employer,
associates, dependents, cellmates, or dominatrixes (dominatrices?)

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: At some point you are going to have to
just dump the matter and let them do as they wish, then form an
approprate action to that. Always get a postal green card for any
mail you send them and keep a copy of it. Eventually you begin
responding to their collection requests by forwarding them a copy of
your green proof of delivery card from the post office and a xerox
copy of your last letter, then wash your hands of it. You cannot
expect to save the entire company from its foolishness and lack of
attention to customer requests, so quit trying. PAT]

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