I just spent an hour and a half talking to phone-company representatives.
Several years ago we agreed to a "triple play" bundle: satellite TV through DIRECTV (but billed on the Verizon bill), land-line service through Verizon, and DSL internet through the land-line. Ever since, I've been waiting for fiber optic to be run in our neighborhood, and this spring it finally was. So in May, we agreed to switch to fiber for phone, internet, and TV. On May 28 (or was it 29?) a Verizon repairman came to the house, installed the fiber-optic cable and associated hardware (e.g. set-top box), took away the DIRECTV set-top box, and congratulated me on my new service. We were told to expect a first-month bill of $143 (including some installation charges and pro-rata charges for the previous month), second and third months of $110, and subsequently $90/month.
The first phone bill after the switchover came to $289, more than twice the estimate. I looked through the itemization and didn't see anything especially weird, except the full month of DIRECTV service, three weeks of which were after we were disconnected from DIRECTV. So I visited Verizon's web site and live-chatted with a call-center representative, who told me this was a DIRECTV charge so I would need to talk to DIRECTV at such-and-such number. I called that number and got a DIRECTV call-center representative who said she would connect me to a "second-level specialist in our joint billing with Verizon". I called that number and got a Verizon employee who said I would need to talk to a "disconnect specialist" at DIRECTV, but he would get one on the line as a conference call with both of us. After a few lost connections and call-backs, we got the conference call working.
The guy from DIRECTV said that since we hadn't called DIRECTV to cancel our service in May, we would be billed for it through today. I pointed out that Verizon had initially signed me up with DIRECTV, so I thought they would also UN-sign me up, and in any case I couldn't possibly be watching DIRECTV since I had no set-top box. So I said I wouldn't pay that part of the bill; they could charge it to Verizon. The guy from Verizon cut in to say that they have no way to refund us that money because it's a DIRECTV charge, not a Verizon charge. The guy from DIRECTV asked why I was discontinuing service, and tried to persuade me to continue it: "we can get you a $20/month discount."
"How about you discount me $20 for the month just past, when I didn't have any service?"
"No, we can't do that; we can only give you a discount on future service, if you decide not to switch services."
"Too late: I switched services three weeks ago."
Then he explained that DIRECTV would automatically send out a shipping container in which I could return the set-top box.
"What set-top box? The guy from Verizon took it away when he installed the FiOS box."
"If you don't have the set-top box, you'll be charged $45 for not returning it."
"No, I won't; you can charge that to Verizon, since they have the box."
"Sir, the bill will be charged to your account. If you didn't want to pay it, you shouldn't have let the Verizon repairman take away your DIRECTV box."
It's late. I'll try dealing with this closer to business hours tomorrow.
EDIT The next day... I called a little earlier in the day this time, and got two (2) very helpful Verizon customer-service people. They still can't do anything about DIRECTV charging me for three weeks of service I didn't get (aside from saying "that's not a good way for them to do business"), but progress is underway on several other issues, including trying to track down the DIRECTV set-top box so I don't get charged for it.