CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again

Culture

Woman claims Verizon customer service call caused heart attack

Technically Incorrect: A Virginia woman is suing Verizon because, she says, a company manager treated her so aggressively on a call that she was taken ill.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


hawins.jpg
Angela Hawkins claims Verizon gave her a heart attack. ABC 13 screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Customer service calls with various providers of essential tech have become the stuff of distressed legend.

However, I'm not sure that I've ever heard of a case in which a customer accused a service representative of giving her a heart attack.

Until, that is, Angela Hawkins.

Hawkins, 52, claims that a Verizon Wireless service rep treated her so aggressively on the phone that she suffered a myocardial infraction.

As ABC 13 reported, the call occurred last November. Hawkins wanted a $60 credit from Verizon. Soon, she claims, the customer service rep became unkind. Her lawsuit insists he was unhelpful and left her holding on for 15 to 20 minutes.

She then claims that a manager named Jason came on the line. He was, she insists, out of line.

Her version of the story is startling. She told ABC13: "He was under the impression that I had threatened to bring a gun to the call center and shoot every employee in the call center."

Why would anyone do that? Why would anyone think that?

And that's where this story has a large hole: what could have possibly led a customer service rep to make such an allegation?

Hawkins said: "I mean, my heart sunk. I felt like I was in a whirlwind because what a horrible thing to accuse somebody of."

She then says she had a heart attack and was hospitalized for four days.

Hawkins is now suing Verizon for $2 million. The lawsuit, filed last week, offers a strange picture of events. It says that "Jason" the manager informed Hawkins that he'd already called the police. He allegedly told her the police were already on the way to her house.

It was this that allegedly caused her physical distress "including tightness in the chest and difficulty breathing."

The suit also says that Hawkins will now be under medical supervision for the rest of her life. It adds that "the defendants knew or should have known their conduct would cause plaintiff to suffer severe emotional distress."

Emotional distress is one thing, but the accusation here is that Verizon gave Hawkins a heart attack.

The suit therefore claims negligent infliction of emotional distress, as well as negligence. Could any Verizon employee have possibly imagined he would cause a heart attack to a customer?

Still, therefore, one returns to the central question: if Hawkins made no threats about guns or anything else, why would a Verizon rep believe that she did?

Such threats aren't unheard of. In March, a Time Warner Cable customer in Nebraska became so angry that she allegedly threatened to blow up the whole Time Warner Cable building. The building was evacuated and she was arrested.

Hawkins lawyer had an interesting claim to ABC 13. He said that because his client is only 4'10" she wouldn't threaten anyone. This seems to defy some levels of logic.

I contacted Verizon to ask for its side of the story. A Verizon spokesman would only tell me: "We do not comment on pending litigation."

So we're left with a woman who had a heart attack and an accusation that will now be handled by the justice system.

Why do I think there's more than has been so far told?