Some subscribers of Verizon’s prepaid wireless service Visible have recently expressed extreme frustration with the brand.
A Fierce Wireless reader, Pradhyum Krishnan, reached out saying, “Since the launch of the new Visible & Visible+ and network transition to the native Verizon network core, users have been encountering massive issues, including no service for 7+ days, SIM and eSIM provisioning issues (such as the wrong plan), partial service problems such as no incoming calls or texts. It was assumed that these issues would start to subside as weeks go by, but it seems the problems are only becoming more rampant.” According to some subscribers who posted on a sub-Reddit, problems have included losing service out of the blue, losing phone numbers as they attempted to port from other carriers and eSIM activation problems.
But the biggest complaint of all was the lack of responsive customer service. “Victims of these incidents cannot come to a solution for weeks because chat support is either not trained or capable of handling these issues, so users receive only generic answers,” said Krishnan.
The problems seem mainly to have arisen since Visible began offering new Visible and Visible+ plans. The new Visible plan with unlimited data, talk, text and hotspot is $30 per month for a single line, taxes and fees included, a reduction from the prior standard base rate of $40 per month. The new Visible+ plan is $45 per month and gives the premium experience on Verizon’s network at some of the lowest rates available for unlimited data. Fierce reached out to Visible about the customer service problems, and its Chief Commercial Officer Jeremy Bolton replied in an email, “The market response to Visible’s new price plans, launched in mid-August, have exceeded expectations and, in some cases, the throughput of our systems, resulting in some members having provisioning and activation experiences that do not meet Visible’s expectations. We are working 24/7 to scale up Visible’s systems to meet consumer demand.”
Asked who helps customers if they have problems, Bolton said, “Customers can reach out to Visible’s 24/7 dedicated online care team accessible via our website or through the Visible app. Additionally, customers can check out our Help Center on our website with info on how-tos and answers to common customer questions.”
But when chatbots and FAQs don’t cut it, there doesn’t seem to be a live human being quickly available to help solve gnarly problems. Hence, the angry, frustrated comments on Reddit. Visible said that while it currently has wait times, customers are able to reach a live agent via its website or app 24/7.
eSIM Visible’s marketing angle has always been to provide an online-focused service with no retail stores.
As such, the brand has been using embedded SIM (eSIM) for several years, but it also supports physical SIMs. Bolton said, “Certain devices, starting with the new iPhone 14 series, are eSIM only, and as a digital-first brand, it’s our goal to be 100% eSIM in the future.”
While some carriers in Europe often use Giesecke+Devrient eSIM management software, Visible uses eSIM technology built into Verizon's network infrastructure, based on the GSMA Standard Specifications to allow eSIMs to be downloaded to compatible devices.
Recently, a couple of events have caused eSIM to finally take hold in the U.S. Apple announced that the iPhone 14 is eSIM only, and T-Mobile, followed by Verizon and AT&T, began touting the technology.
Previously, it was assumed that T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T had been hesitating with eSIM because they were afraid that subscribers might start switching carriers frequently. Theoretically, eSIM will make it as easy to switch wireless carriers as it is to subscribe and unsubscribe from online video services such as Netflix.
Aside from the fact that the iPhone 14 is eSIM only, the carriers might also now see the benefits of eSIM because it will save them money on in-person and over-the-phone customer service.
But too much do-it-yourself provisioning and technical problem-solving can be a nightmare for subscribers — as evidenced by Visible's problems. A couple of telecom analysts noted in a LinkedIn post that the eSIM process is still challenging, even for technically-savvy telecom analysts.