The Washington Times - July 7, 2009, 10:54PM

Readers of yesterday’s note about my billing hassles with Verizon — I was trying to pay online, but Verizon’s Web system wouldn’t permit me to do so — will be interested in knowing the outcome.

According to Eric W. Rabe, the firm’s senior vice president of media relations, there was a foul-up in the Web-based system, affecting at least 21 customers of the firm on July 6, the day I tried to pay my bill. “We found something that we’ve corrected on your account,” he said in a voice message, “and you should be able to go online and pay your bill and do whatever else you need to do.”

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He added, “we did actually have a few customers complain about this kind of problem, about 20 of them, so I don’t think this is too widespread, but we did find a little bug in this that we fixed in your account and we’re going to put a patch in the system [Wednesday] night, when we do our next software update, that will eliminate this for anybody.”

Mr. Rabe conceded that while it’s impossible to know how many other Verizon customers just used another payment method and didn’t purse a Web complaint, his thinking is that it wasn’t a major issue.

I’m certainly willing, at this time, to take Mr. Rabe’s and Verizon’s word on this. The firm has generally delivered excellent service in the 18 months or so that I’ve been a FiOS customer.

However, I did have to move things up the chain of command pretty high in order to get a quick resolution. Verizon has a large territory to cover, I know, and multiple business lines. They might want to take a lesson — dare I suggest this? — from the much-loathed Comcast, however. Blogger, and book publishing whiz, Michael Hyatt had an interesting customer service experience with Comcast and how that firm turned things around.

Both Mr. Hyatt’s experience, and mine if I may suggest, demonstrate something: there’s a bit of power in putting your complaints online, either in a blog (as your correspondent did here) or via Twitter, to which Comcast seems to pay particular attention.