Verizon’s UI

Since we’re in the process of moving, I’ve spent a lot of time switching utilities to the new apartment.

For a few months now, I’ve been paying our Verizon phone & DSL bill online, because it’s easy and I don’t need to dig up my checkbook. However, Verizon’s online bill management leaves much to be desired… welcome screenWhen you log in, the account summary displays the amount you owe, listed under “Payment due” (see screen-shot at left). So, I would periodically log in, note the dollar amount, and after a few clicks, a credit-card payment was submitted.

There is a problem with this system however—the bill summary info is taken directly from your last printed bill, and is in no way reflective of any payments made since the billing date. This resulted in us overpaying month after month.

Generally, it seems to me that a brief account summary should show your up-to-the-minute balance, and clicking “View Bill” should show your last printed bill (which may not show recent payments). This logic, however, seems to have escaped Verizon’s web team. page shown when you click View BillInstead of the current balance greeting you after logging in, you’re forced to click on “View Bill”, and scroll down the page to a curiously phrased line that reads: Total Current Live Balance as of 9/11/2003 is : $0 (see screen-shot at left).

Total Current Live Balance. Does that sound like an afterthought, or what? Why on earth would this bit of information be found in the middle of a past bill, and not on the billing summary?

I can only surmise that a lot of users like me started complaining about the confusion, so they had one of their back-end developers insert a bit of code, without bothering to hire a UI person and ask them if what they were doing was intuitive.

Though it may seem like a small issue, I think it is embarrassingly bad—because it could create a negative perception that online Verizon payments are a hassle. And, it’s not going to convince users to switch to “Paper-Free Billing”.

Attn: Verizon, I am available for UI consulting.

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