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NewsChannel 3 Investigates: Orcutt caregiver fights Verizon for phone refund

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ORCUTT - This story is about one woman's frustration with new technology and an overdue refund. Not just a little overdue; she's been waiting almost a year and a half.

She finally got fed up and called NewsChannel 3's CJ Ward.

Vonda Maxwell loved her old flip phone, but in October 2017 she thought it was time to upgrade to a smartphone. She went to the Verizon Wireless store on Betteravia in Santa Maria and picked out a new iPhone. But after four days, Maxwell said she realized, her "newfangled" phone wasn't for her, so she returned it to the Verizon store.

"She (Verizon employee) said 9 to 12 weeks to get a refund and I'm like, 'Oh okay,'" said Maxwell.

Maxwell said she returned it well within the grace period and Verizon gave her paperwork showing she was owed a refund and everything seemed fine. But when January 2018 rolled around and still no refund, Maxwell went back to the store and spoke with a different Verizon clerk.

"And he said, 'Oh, refunds take six months.' And I'm like, 'What? six months? I mean all these people are coming in and buying phones, gosh you could have given me the money right there.' But they didn't,'"  Maxwell said.

Maxwell also said the folks at Verizon gave her a number to call. She did, and spoke with someone else at Verizon over the phone.

"Oh yes, we'll send you the check for $431.91. You'll get it within a week," said Maxwell.

But Maxwell said the check never showed up, so she called Verizon again and spoke with someone else.

"'Oh yeah, yeah, we'll send it right out. You'll get it in a week.' Uh, huh sure, which week, which year?" said Maxwell.

Again, the check never showed up. Maxwell said by now, a year had passed, she and her ailing husband live on Social Security and they really needed the money.

"I have a husband with Alzheimer's which is hard enough and I'm the caregiver. Really frustrating. It's like, I hate being lied to... God!" said Maxwell.

That's when she called the NewsChannel 3 Tipline asking for help. We called the Santa Maria Verizon store and a manager referred us to their corporate folks. We eventually reached a Verizon official who agreed to look into Maxwell's complaint. We passed along the documentation we had and waited. Eventually, Verizon determined it owed the money and sent Maxwell a full refund of $431.91.

"Then I'm calling C.J. Ward. Sure enough they called right away. So it worked. Thank God," said Maxwell.

One thing that really helped in this case was Maxwell's note taking. Every time she spoke with someone, she wrote down the day, time, who she spoke with, their position and what they said. That's great advice for everyone.

As for Verizon, they never did explain what happened and where the mix up occurred. They did send a written statement that reads, "We strive to provide the world-class experience our customers expect and deserve. We sincerely apologize to Ms. Maxwell for any inconvenience this may have caused, and we appreciate having the opportunity to resolve this issue."

If you have a problem and need help, call the NewsChannel 3 Tipline at 805-882-3903.

News / Santa Maria - North County

C.J. Ward

C.J. Ward is the evening anchor for KEYT NewsChannel 3 and the station’s lead investigative reporter.