The Checkout

Who's a Bandwidth Bandit?

I've spent the past few days talking to call center experts for an upcoming story and a standard refrain I keep hearing is that oftentimes, the things that drive consumers crazy the most are not the call center's fault, but bad practices by the company.

David T. of Annandale, among others, appears to have stumbled across a case in point.

About a year ago, he signed up for Verizon Wireless's "unlimited high-speed wireless Internet access" for $60 per month.

Then, a month ago, David, a computer consultant who used the service to assist his database clients, was kicked off. When he called Verizon Wireless, he was transferred to the security department, which told him his account had been "permanently terminated" because he had used more than 166 megabytes per day.

"You abused and damaged our network," he was told.

Security had inferred, from the amount of bandwidth David had consumed, that he was using the service "for a prohibited activity," as in downloading music and movies or watching pornography, cut him off and charged him a $175 early termination fee.

After several calls to Verizon Wireless, David learned what others, including other consumer bloggers found out through personal experience: The "unlimited" service is limited to 5 gigabytes per month or 166 megabytes per day.

Verizon Wireless' unlimited broadband access service is "unlimited for specific kinds of data uses," spokesman John Johnson said. "Any customer using the service FOR the allowed uses only, won't be terminated."

David T. said not so in his case. He used the service for "e-mail and [to] remotely access several of the company systems, as well as control customer computers by remote control." All allowed uses.

When asked how Verizon Wireless came up with the 5G limit, Johnson replied the limits are based on "the type of application...not on size -- though bandwidth use significantly above an average customer's use...is a good flag to determine unauthorized uses."

Johnson said the terms and conditions of the service have always been there for all to see in advertising and marketing materials. To make his point, he sent along a newspaper ad.


The ad is telling in that in medium-sized red type it offers "unlimited broadband access," followed by smaller red type that reads, "for Internet browsing, e-mail and Intranet access." The caveat, "If more than 5G/line/month, we presume use is for non-permitted uses and will terminate service," appears at the very bottom in fine print, below the image of an award from J.D. Power & Associates for "highest in customer satisfaction with business wireless service."

This appears to be a case of "mouse print" -- the legalese in microscopic font that appears in contracts and ads and is muttered at barely intelligible speed in commercials. If the fine print were magnified, it would be clear that Verizon Wireless' definition of "Internet browsing" doesn't jive with the way people use the Internet in the 21st century. An excerpt of the contract Johnson provided expressly forbids streaming of videos, downloading of music, videos or games, hosting broadcasts or Internet phone use. The presumption is that downloading music, for instance, is always illegal. (Guess that makes Steve Jobs a pirate.)

Sound like a case of consumer beware to you, or, as the call center folks put it, a bad company practice?

By Annys Shin |  October 4, 2006; 6:00 AM ET Consumer News
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Comments

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sounds to me like a typical Verizon short-sighted response. a smart company would have notified the user that they were exceeding the terms of the contract and offered solutions. as usual, verizon would rather lose the customer rather than retaining them.

Posted by: jan | October 4, 2006 6:55 AM

Actually, it sounds more like false advertising and a business practice likely to violate the consumer protection laws of several states.

Posted by: FTC | October 4, 2006 7:08 AM

Wow, yeah - it's hard to see how that isn't false advertising. "Unlimited" is not ambiguous, whatever they put in the fine print.

Posted by: h3 | October 4, 2006 7:34 AM

Verizon is to put it mildly arrogant and they have a long history going back to the General Telephone days of poor service and stupid shortsighted management.

I have had numerous Verizon experiences in the vein cited in this article with ISDN, cell, and landline. I have dumped Verizon services one after another.

I switched to Cingular for cell service.

At one point I had five land line numbers with Verizon, today it is down to two and it will shortly be cut back to one line minus the outrageously priced extras. I switched to VOIP.

I am looking forward to the day when Verizon is just a bad memory. Another company who is just as bad is Sprint, incompetent and arrogant.

What is really poetic is that I actively spread the word about Verizon and Sprint to thousands of startup companies. Verizon's monopoly mindset makes them oblivious to the fact that their hold on customers is about to be broken.

Ronald J Riley, President
Professional Inventors Alliance
www.PIAUSA.org
RJR"at"PIAUSA.org

Ronald J Riley, Exec. Dir.
InventorEd, Inc.
www.InventorEd.org
RJR"at"InvEd.org
Change "at" to @

RJR Direct # (202) 318-1595

Posted by: Ronald J Riley | October 4, 2006 7:45 AM

It's these stories repeated time and again that make me glad I don't live in the third world.

Posted by: Moz | October 4, 2006 7:51 AM

If one customer using 166 MB a day can damage Verizon's network - I'm glad I don't use Verizon.

Not only do they treat customers shabbily, but they have a very weak infrastructure - which they obviously seem to think is some kind of selling point.

Why do they think customers use broadband in the first place if it isn't to stream videos, download large files, etc.?

I'm glad I turned down Verizon when they came to my neighborhood and pressured me day after day to sign up.

Posted by: Lily | October 4, 2006 8:02 AM

I have been researching getting broadband wireless due to the fact that DSL and cable are unavailable near my home. I almost went with Verizon until I started reading some of these disconnection stories. I will never use Verizon if there are these types of limits. I want to play online games, stream media, download music, and yes, I admit it, look at internet porn on occasion. When I want my morality policed, I will call my mom, thank you very much.

Posted by: Me | October 4, 2006 8:10 AM

File complaints with the FTC, your state attorney general's office and contact a class action lawyer. Verizon will stop.

Posted by: Lawya | October 4, 2006 8:12 AM

Don't have any issues with Verizon's phone service but my broadband and mobile experience was abysmal. Not surprised by this story at all -- vestiges of the Ma Bell attitude are rampant at Verizon.

Posted by: buster1 | October 4, 2006 8:28 AM

ROFL, any downloads of music is illegal? So my rhapsody subscription and the music I purchase thru them with artist consent is illegal? Nice. . . . very nice.

I am also a photographer and upload many images to various websites. Some of these files are upwards of 25mb a piece. . . Clearly it is illegal for me to share my copyrighted photos as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2006 8:49 AM

All of these companies are crooked. Everyone has spent hours on the phone on hold trying to reach someone only to be disconnected or transferred back and forth until the place closes... Time Warner and Verizon were just as bad when I had them... Comcast offers lousy slow service where I'm at now. They call it Cable though and charge me for it. I'd hate to see what their DSN is like... I wish the FCC would step in and start enforcing rules and smack these companies around when they abuse people! We should get credited for the amount of time they make us wait to try to fix their billing mistakes, their service problems, etc.

Posted by: Chris | October 4, 2006 8:55 AM

I used to use Verizon for my cell phone service. I switched after they refused to give me my $400 deposit back if I continued their service after my initial contract was up. Cingular is MUCH better.

Posted by: Steve | October 4, 2006 8:56 AM

Verizon is a bunch of lethargic, clueless and arrogant stupids. There is a sense of previlege or entitlement, as if the people of America (esp. North East), owe something to verizon for their services.

On the top of it their rates are always a noch higher than competition and claim of superior quality.

Their arrogance does not cease to grow even when alternatives like Vonage and Cable companies are kicking them left and right.

Posted by: Srikanth | October 4, 2006 8:58 AM

I had DSL service with ATT. They were very unresponsive in repair issues so I decided to switch to Verizon. I have spent over 5 hours on the phone attempting to make the switch to Verizon home phone and DSL and it STILL isn't accomplished. Moral of the story: they are all the same so don't waste your time switching if you think it will be better.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | October 4, 2006 9:20 AM

Fortunately here in the State of Washington you can separately contract for your ISP service, it does not have to be bundled with the local-loop DSL. Qwest tries to hide this feature, but it's there. This takes the phone monopoly out of the internet business, and limits them to being the 'wire guys'. They are marginally competent at that, but I'd go berserk if I did not have the small responsive ISP (Zipcon) to rely upon for the actual internet service. I tried the Verizon wireless broadband product, it was so intermittent as to be useless (Seattle/Bellevue, WA).

Posted by: glomph | October 4, 2006 9:43 AM

Just think, Verizon is also trying to push through legislation against net neutrality - it sounds like they are already violating net neutrality.

Please, if anyone of you is writing a letter, make sure you include your support of net neutrality against this greedy company.

Posted by: daedalus | October 4, 2006 9:48 AM

pathetic... there's simply no other word for these sorts of policies. if you offer a customer internet access at a certain speed, the network infrastructure should be /required/ to support use of that bandwidth 24/7 if that's what people opt to do with their connections.

if someone's network can't support 1Mbit of traffic constantly flowing across a connection, they have no business selling a 1Mbit package to a customer.

Posted by: Deviant | October 4, 2006 10:00 AM

If Verizon cut off my serice and told me they were charging me a $175 fee, my response would be, "Oh, really? What makes you think that I will pay this fee?"

Posted by: Mister Methane | October 4, 2006 10:02 AM

I also 'fired' Verizon (Vz). I bought a home recently and shopped around for voice/data/video services with the local service providers Vz, Cox, Comcast, Satellite, etc. Decided on Vz's bundled services and made the arrangements. Vz needed several days to get things 'turned on' which I discovered was due to their union (YES - Vz is largely UNION) rules. SO I wait. Then on the promised day NOTHING worked. I called support using my T-Mobile cell phone. Vz said everything was showing 'green' to my house from there end. I countered "maybe that is so but why can't I call you on my land line, watch TV, or get on the internet then?" Vz support countered they would send a tech to my home for an additional $199 charge and it would take several days (union rule again I suppose). I told them to wait, I would get back to them.

So I call COx, they show up next day free of charge, install everything free, and I am a happy capmer.

Verizon will never see me as a customer as long as they remain UNION. Therein (I believe) is the root of all Vz evil. The Union rules from back in the 40's have not evolved to current business trends.

Posted by: X.Hog | October 4, 2006 10:14 AM

Verizon's core business is, well, business. Their corporate (and government) clientele provide far greater profits than the consumer market. There are only a couple major players in the business market, and they're one of them.

You may not be able to afford 1 (or more) Gbps fiber to every endpoint in your house, but business and government can. Verizon's solution for this is unparalleled, and their corporate customers are extremely happy, from where I sit.

This is an inevitable result of a company shifting its business model away from consumer-based products and solutions towards a corporate-targeted market. There are dozens of providers targeting the consumer market in that vacuum, specifically because of complaints like these. Go find another provider that wants your business. They'll thank you for it.

Be happy. The "invisible hand" of the market works.

Posted by: ES | October 4, 2006 10:20 AM

jibe, not jive.

Posted by: me | October 4, 2006 10:25 AM

jibe, not jive.

Posted by: me | October 4, 2006 10:28 AM

Unfortunately, Verizon is living in the past. Their rates are not competitive in our area, and don't have to be, as they enjoy a de facto monopoly.

Their service techs are for the most part very pleasant and cooperative, but dealing with the faceless and thoroughly disinterested company telephone support staff (after a typically 20-40 minute wait on hold) will drive anyone nuts. I have come to realize that I know more about the subject than they do, and my telecomms knowledge is pretty basic.

After 7 years of asking for DSL and repeatedly being told it was not available at our home, we finally persuaded a tech to verify the distance from their closest POP. It was well within range, despite their database containing numbers that were two to three times greater than reality.

So after a few months' additional delay, we have a fairly decent if basic DSL connection. It has failed many times, though, and becomes intermittent as soon as we download anything sizeable. One can only imagine that it has something in common with the fact that after each rain, our voice lines crackle merrily for a couple days. By the time they get around to responding to our call, the lines have dried up. This has been an ongoing game we play for now going on 15 years.... yet we cannot and may not be even slightly tardy paying their ever inflated bills. At the time of the last three callouts, each tech has reported the main junction as the problem, which needs replacement due to age. It hasn't and probably won't ever be replaced, nonetheless. Forget the fact that we've probably paid them enough to replace that junction several hundred times over the past couple of decades.

Is it Union, Corporate beancounters, or just a "Not my job" attitude?

Maybe all of the above.

I would happily subscribe to a T-1 service of my own and eliminate Verizon as well as Comcast for all my data and Internet needs. The time is soon coming when this will becomes a realistically priced and practical alternative.

Posted by: Michael | October 4, 2006 10:43 AM

This story is exactly why 3G and 4G wireless broadband have not "taken off" in this country as they have in other countries. Stupid companies like Verizon, and their unfriendly rules will continue to anger current clients and deter new ones from signing up. This is a formula for DECREASING profits through ruined customer relationships and negative word-of-mouth: Very poor product design coupled with using the "security department" as customer service reps.

Posted by: Ken L | October 4, 2006 11:06 AM

We have had this in the UK for years.... nothing new to us here...

Posted by: Ben | October 4, 2006 11:32 AM

This is a great anecdote, and if you search for Verizon and EVDO and cancellation, you'll find that dozens of people have documented how their service was canceled for using perfectly acceptable services.

Verizon Wireless claims about 400 to 700 Kbps access downstream with their BroadbandAccess service. At even 400 Kbps, one hour of usage at that rate per day exceeds Verizon's apparent limit.

Posted by: Glenn Fleishman | October 4, 2006 11:40 AM

I just checked Cox's website. Their regular service limits to 40GB/month. I get about 6mbps download. 166MB/day is a joke. Just patching Windows, downloading drivers, other software, etc. will take that much.

The phone companies have been behind the curve for years on high speed service. They are incapable of thinking in the digital age.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2006 11:45 AM

Anyone who gets any kind of service with Verizon in the DC area does so at their own risk. I have just completed a 3 month fight with Verizon over termination of DSL service. Even though my customer record indicated that I had given the order to turn it off, they continued to deliver the service and bill me for it. Repeated calls to the Verizon office were like playing croquet with the Queen of Hearts. In the end, it was just easier to pay the $170 they said I owed (no breakdown of how that amount was calculated) and save my credit rating. This is the 2nd time I've had to do this. Two years ago I faced a similar problem with terminating a landline. My bill actually was referred to a credit agency, even though Verizon assured me I did not owe the money. That exercise in futility cost me $280.00.

Posted by: skip m | October 4, 2006 11:46 AM

I am currently a Vz customer because there are no other options in my area. Cable modem in my area still uses 40 year old cables and they die anytime we have a cloud in the sky - they must be older than water.

When high speed through the electric lines hits my area I'm on board. Vz can take a flying leap.

Posted by: waiting | October 4, 2006 11:55 AM

{sarcasm} Well, of COURSE they are going to prohibit Internet phone use -- that would take customers away from their traditional phone service! {/sarcasm}

Posted by: GGal | October 4, 2006 12:11 PM

The nice, public face of the Verizon corporation says:

> As long as a customer uses the service for the
> specific applications under
> their agreement, there is no max. However,

HOWEVER... there is a max.

I talked to TWO Verizon employees who said there was a hard 5G limit.

One was nice, and after a long conversation (and a long day dealing with this on the day the s*** hit the fan), she was the one who gave me the 5G number. She also called the decision to impose this new limit an "executive management decision" in a tone clearly intended to indicate her disapproval.

The other Verizon employee was a goon in their security department, where they route people who go over the limit.

Since I only used the service for exactly what the agreement says, I DEMANDED to know what they thought I had done.

he stonewalled me, was rude, and tried to get me to hang up and go away. he said "it doesn't matter what you did specifically, you abused and damaged our network". He also asked me leading questions to get me to confess to leaving my pc on all day to trade music (which is illegal) and watching people on video on the internet (which means porn).

It occurred to me that they don't KNOW what people do, that this is just a blind, hard limit. I asked if the limit was 5G/month (what the other lady had told me).

He seemed surprised that I knew that. Then, having been taken off guard, he admitted that's the limit.

I then specifically asked "so it's just the usage amount, right? you don't actually look at:

-- the IP protocol used [which would indicate a video stream] or

-- what web sites are visited [which would indicate porn], or

-- what port numbers are addressed [which would indicate file sharing].

You just cut off people who use more than 5G/month, right"?

And he paused, then said "right". He was against the wall and just wanted me to hang up.

The letter they sent my boss (it's his account) didn't even say how much bandwidth I had used, just that I had used the service illegally (that is, in violation
of the terms of service).

The corporate nice guy is LYING when he says:

> when those thresholds are hit, we determine
> whether they have been reached by
> using the services we allow - browsing, email and
> intranet access.

Then why were they unable, even under extreme pressure, to tell me what I did that was illegal usage?

And why didn't the letter they sent say it?

And why did two Verizon people tell me it's a straight 5G limit?

Their spokesman says:

> Limits are on the types of applications that
> may be used, not on size

Then the verbal fine print:

> bandwidth use significantly above an average
> customer's use for the delineated applications is
> a good flag to determine unauthorized uses.

Verizon is selling a fixed block of internet access as "unlimited". This amount is not only finite, it is low (166M/day). This corresponds to 240 seconds per DAY of actual data transmission time.

See for yourself. Here's a free bandwidth meter. It will tell you how much data you transfer every day: http://codebox.no-ip.net/controller?page=bitmeter2

After running it for a few days, right-click the icon and choose "statistics grid".

If you do this experiment, you'll see that you use at least 100M per day. Even if you personally don't go over 166M, can you see that many innocent business users do? It's statistically mandatory. The amount of bandwidth that customers will use would look like a bell-shaped curve on a graph.

What Verizon did was decide where to draw an arbitrary vertical line on that graph and accuse everyone on one side of it of doing horrible things.

PBS did this experiment on a Verizon "unlimited" Wireless internet account and found that normal use is 184M/day. Read about It here:
http://www.pbs.org/cringely/pulpit/pulpit20060928.html
(It's below the item about HP)

Images and flash animations on web sites add up. So does downloading software (like the bandwidth meter). The latest windows service pack uses four days' quota of their "unlimited" service.

This guy got his service cut off too :
http://www.consumeraffairs.com/news04/2006/07/verizon_unlimited.html

"[Verizon] said our 10 Gigabytes in 30 days was, 'more than 40 times that of a typical user.' That would mean the typical user only downloads about 8.3 megabytes per day - good for less than 12 seconds of constant downloading at
the service's average speed."

That means that Verizon's 5G.month limit will be hit by using 240 seconds per day of actual data transmission time.

This is where Verizon drew the vertical line on the graph. They sell that as "unlimited" use. And their official line is "well, it IS unlimited... for uses requiring less than 240 seconds per day".

They COULD:

-- sell fixed blocks of bandwidth, or
-- raise the price for genuinely unlimited use, or
-- increase capacity

But instead, they figure they can make even more money by falsely advertising the service as unlimited to sign up as many people as possible. Then, once they have your money, throwing back honest customers who use more than a minimal mount, to make room for LOTS more customers who pay the same but use only 12 seconds per day.

The worst part is that they don't just say "you use it too much, we're cutting you off". In order to maintain the public fiction of unlimited access, they
MUST falsely portray users as being software pirates or porn servers.

The reason the goon squad in their security department is so rude and tough on bewildered callers is to mask this fact and prevent innocent people from getting mad by frightening them into going away.

To me the experience was like a restaurant advertising "all you can eat", but when you eat more than two servings, the polite waiters turn into ugly monsters, grab you, haul you out the kitchen door into the back alley, and beat you up.

And taking a $175 early termination fee is like the waiters stealing your wallet as a tip. In fact, I think the termination fees are part of the scam.

This is the way American corporations treat their customers. I was the chief litigation support programmer for DOJ in the Microsoft case, and I've
seen American businesses do things like this again and again, and again.

Japanese businesses do NOT treat their customers this way. Businesses in Japan consider it an honor to be given the opportunity to serve a customer, and a blessing that God gave them the talent needed to do it.

The FCC ought to look into this. After I post this, I'm going to their site.

Posted by: Dave T | October 4, 2006 12:43 PM

"It's these stories repeated time and again that make me glad I don't live in the third world.

Posted by: Moz | October 4, 2006 07:51 AM "

First of all, this happened IN THE USA

Second: I live in a third world country, and I NEVER had problems like this, so you better check your comments before making them

Posted by: Anonymous | October 4, 2006 1:28 PM

We have cable and vonage, and haven't had huge problems. We were thinking about switching to Verizon when the FIOS lines were installed in our neighborhood. Do any of you have that?? What has been your experience with it? Is it the same with FIOS--a 5G limit? Maybe the time is coming when we will all just pay a federal flat tax to get unlimited wireless service. I remember having dial-up--no other options then--and how cool it was. This was 13 years ago, however.

Posted by: jane | October 4, 2006 2:14 PM

Verizon needs to be snaped back by the FTC
or FCC with a big fine $20,000,000+.\
That will be the only way to stop this defameing of users of there services.

Posted by: John | October 4, 2006 2:21 PM

Typical Verizon business practice. Years ago I signed up for heavily-marketed "unlimited" dial-up with Verizon wireless's precursor, GTE, when they first offered Internet service. Then they Verizonized and decided "unlimited" didn't mean unlimited any more and unilaterally changed the rules. No apologies, no regrets, just business. "We're Verizon - we do as we please - and we don't have to talk to you about it. We're into profiteering, not communicating."

Why do they behave like high-handed, arrogant, inaccessible thugs? Because inhuman automata continue to get away with hiding behind concrete barricades in windowless bunkers, and because the arrogance makes money for shareholders. Verizon is an awful company, ethics-wise.

Consumers continue to let telcos intimidate them while the Republican FCC puts profitability over public good and sells off the RF spectrum to unaccountable corporations. Consolidation of telcos is as anti-consumer as consolidation of radio stations into nation-wide monopolies to limit freedom of information.

But, so what, right? Torture is now a Christian family value, habeas corpus has ended its 800 year run, the First Amendment is passe in light of a culture of fear, and talking about anything but business is anti-Amercun. Why shouldn't Verizon get first dibs on the Big Brother contract?

Posted by: GTE alumnus | October 4, 2006 2:45 PM

When I worked for an ISP back in the late '90s, we had unlimited plans. We monitored how much everyone used them, though, as it was specifically listed in our contracts that "unlimited" didn't mean "online all the time".

That was "dedicated". We did our best to make sure everyone who signed up for it knew it. And we only rarely had issues with the abuse of it.

This kind of thing though makes me glad I'm not a Verizon customer.

Posted by: Sean | October 4, 2006 2:55 PM

I recently spent a significant amount of time examining various 2.5/3G broadband data plans before selecting a phone and provider. I would recommend that anyone looking to purchase this kind of service read around on EVDO / PDAphone forums first; info on provider caps (including many Verizon 5GB cancellation woes) is readily available at most of these places. For what it's worth, Sprint does not currently appear to have a similar cap, and does not prohibit media streaming.

Bottom line, if you plan to use a 2.5/3G data plan for *real* broadband uses, make sure you perform the due dilligence to ensure you'll get what you want - telcos will find any of a myriad ways to nickel and dime you for not reading the fine print.

Posted by: mike | October 4, 2006 3:33 PM

Jane - We just got fios and are pretty pleased with it. We had cable modem in our old house, and it went out ALL THE TIME. The FIOS reps have been pleasant to deal with...I don't think they work directly for Verizon, but subcontracted. Fios customer support and everything has thier own number separate from "regular" verizon. A few internet outages, but otherwise very happy. No idea about bandwith though, although we are pretty regular napster (paying) members.

Posted by: fios | October 4, 2006 3:56 PM

Thank you, fios!

Posted by: jane | October 4, 2006 4:20 PM

Verizon still thinks they are the only company in town. With stock going up, they don't care about customers.

Posted by: Gary Masters | October 4, 2006 4:35 PM

I grew up in a smallish town in SC that was covered by GTE and there were all sorts of problems with service back then that have continued until recent years with Verizon.

Crackling after a rain that another commenter mentioned is one of them. Every outgoing/incoming call to/from the exchange not working for hours at a time (only local calls worked - anything else got a busy signal on either end.)

The service was made even worse by the fact that the local office closed and the nearest physical office was 30 minutes away.

We have them for a landline in Baltimore and I haven't noticed any major problems yet but we rarely use a landline either.

I'm looking at DSL/cable in the area but I doubt I'd go with Verizon for that or for SVDO now.

Posted by: Jeff Q. | October 4, 2006 5:22 PM

Had my own problems with Verizon. I used their broadband for a year until it suddenly stopped working. After too many calls with customer service Verizon finally send technician who could not fix anything. I waited for a month while they did repairs on "their end". Finally, my patience run out and I switched to another more expensive provider. In a while, I tried again to switch to Verizon expecting they they would upgrade their lines after few years. But my line did not work again.
I also had horrible problems with their cell and regular phone services. Needless to say I switched.

Posted by: boris | October 4, 2006 5:39 PM

A few points:

1. Exceeding your contracted bandwidth is a contract issue, it's not illegal. If someone tells you its illegal, ask them "Under which statute?"

2. When you go to purchase services, ask up front about limitations, and see if they have a business-class service that doesn't have the same limits. (I purposely bought the business-class FIOS service in Prince Georges County at my house because it doesn't limit how you use the service, supports mail servers, etc.)

3. They really have you over a barrel unless you are prepared to sue them over a contract breach. They have all the leveredge - we want the service and the sales/support droids don't care whether we cancel or not. Until we can exert leveredge of our own, until we have something they want really badly, we'll always get screwed. The proof of this is if you run a packet sniffer on your network connection and log all of your traffic. You could then prove you hadn't breached your contract terms and they would still do what they do.

4. I totally agree with the earlier poster who said all these companies are like this so it doesn't matter who you switch to. We switched from Cingular to AT&T a long time ago because of Cingular service issues when we traveled to major cities (Las Vegas Strip, downtown Chicago); then of course AT&T was swallowed up by them so here we are again, waiting for the end of our contract to switch to Vz.

I like to believe karma, what goes around, comes around, but I'm afraid in these cases its just wishful thinking.

Posted by: Gary Goldberg | October 4, 2006 5:53 PM

Read the fine print, no matter which company you are dealing with for new service. Verizon has the best network coverage....peroid.

Posted by: VOL | October 4, 2006 9:14 PM

This is flat out ridiculous - Verizon wants people to pay $60 a month for "high speed" wireless Internet access... but to not actually use it!

Just one more reason to avoid doing business with them, and to see out alternatives whenever possible... every if they cost a bit more.

Posted by: Thomas Leavitt | October 5, 2006 12:26 AM

I just paid what I thought was my final bill from Time Warner- as I moved from Tx to DC. I just got a bill for the over the phone payment I made- despite being told I would be free and clear after making my payment!!! Now I am past-due on $5 and my credit interest just went up! STUPID FREAKING GREEDY LIARS!!! The FCC REALLY needs to squash this crap!

Posted by: Chris | October 5, 2006 8:52 AM

I can't resist joining the chorus: what a trifling, greedy, and dishonest company. When I moved a few years ago they kept billing me for a landline after I'd disconnected it, even though I was obviously getting service at another address and being billed there. They dared to put that to collection several months after claiming I didn't owe them anything! After that I dropped land line completely.

Recently I moved to an area that doesn't have high-speed cable so I had to use them again for DSL. After claiming I could get dry-loop, they changed their story 2 weeks later when I'd moved in and needed the service for work, saying that something was different about my network box and that I'd have to pay for a phone line I wasn't going to use after all. $12 more a month down the Verizon drain for a service that has been much less reliable than cable modem so far.

Posted by: d_in_laurel | October 5, 2006 12:44 PM

I download like mad, although not porn, music or movies, but many, many large files and use Sprint's EVDO service.

I have never had Sprint call me or send a message that I was using an excessive amount of bandwith.

I understand that you do not need to have a cell phone with Sprint for EVDO. My company has a contract with them, but we do not receive an additional discount on the EVDO service. I pay $49.99 per month, umlimited plus tax. Some of my friends who don't work for the company say the "public" price is $59.99 a month.

My point is, the service works reasonably well, although latency can be an issue in some areas.

I just ordered the new EVDO Revision A card for $49.99 after rebate that supposedly will double my speeds. Sprint says it can be as high as 3mbps down, but I'll believe it when I see it. If I can revceive 1.5 mbps down that will be a big improvement over the average speed of 500 to 700 kbps down.

I made my decision over a year ago between Sprint and Verizon after reading reviews at www.dslreports.com.

Since Verizon requires you to have a cell phone in order to receive the discounted price on their EVDO service, I went with Sprint even though as I said earlier, I don't receive any additional percentage discounts with our corporate agreement.

What I don't understans is why Verizon is so restricted in the amount of bandwith one can appear to use, while Sprint is not. Furthermore, bot Verizon and Sprint are CDMA technology so this appears to me to be some kind of public relations campaign generated at the request of Verizons staff who manage their platforms who must be yelling that their systems can't take all the downloading.

To me it's like crying wolf over a full airplane with passengers, cargo, provisions and fuel. Properly managed, a plane with a full load will safely operate without any operational difficulty. What's the big deal here at Verizon?

Could it be Verizob does not know how to optimize their network?

Posted by: AIRLINE | October 5, 2006 2:06 PM

The first, physical, reality is that cable, DSL, and even fiber optic lines have a fixed total capacity. When your downloads and uploads slow down, do you know why? It's because too much information is passing through the system.

The second, SOCIAL, reality is that Internet usage is not even among customers. it's a bit like wealth: 5% of the users will consume about 95% of the bandwidth.

Without limits like these, a few highbandwidth users could take WAY more than they pay for--which would either slow down or raise costs for everyone else.

Yes, I know the "no streaming video" is anonying. But it's a bit like a dog leash law: they won't enforce it unless you're already on their hit list for overuse.

You can buy a plan which will ACTUALLY provide you "unlimited" internet use: a plan in which you can upload and download at the maximum speed the server will support, 24/7, with streaming video and all.

You just can't get it for $60/month. Nor should you.

Posted by: Sailorman | October 5, 2006 4:16 PM

So Sailorman, how's your employment at Verizon working out?

Posted by: Me too | October 6, 2006 7:10 AM

Yes, all the (U.S.) telcos are lying, greedy crooks. The only check on their unethical business practices they respect is a fine bigger than the profit they reap from their dishonest practices. I thought PacBell had the lowest business ethics in the industry until they got bought out by SBC. SBC is the worst yet, in spite of multimillion dollar fines from the CA PUC (usually an industry lap-dog).

Fortunately, my neighborhood has Cox cable, so I could switch everything but cell to Cox - cable, broadband and VOIP. Only problem in years was a cable modem failure. If Cox has a bandwidth usage limit I've never hit it and I'm connected for hours/day. Tech support (local) answers promptly, solves problems quickly and competently. Billing gets confused by changes but when prompted apologetically makes it right without the telco hassle. My friends with Comcast and Time-Warner not so lucky - a lot of the telco incompetence and greedy attitude.

I have to disagree with X.Hog's comment about Verizon's alleged "union rules". The customer service atrocities of Verizon, SBC, et al result directly from deliberate corporate policies of arrogance, dishonesty and greed. Their telephone customer service reps (how many time zones away?) are taught a whole list of evasions and lies to deflect customer dissatifaction to any target but management -- the PUC, FCC, FTC, city, local service provider, and of course their techs' union if they have one. Pin the blame on anybody but the corporate MANAGERS who made the policies and scripted the lies. Glad I don't have to deal with them any more.

Posted by: Tuna15 | October 6, 2006 7:31 AM

I've had Cingular's 3g serice for about 6 months now, Their contract reads exacltly the same as Verizon's. I had no idea this was going on until I read a Yahoo article about how great 3G was, and in the comments, verizon's users were all complaining about having their service terminated and being stuck with the $175 fee. I'm hoping Cingular doesn't follow suit with these draconian policies. Unlimited Data should mean unlimited data. $60 a month is not cheap. I encourage ex Verizon customers to take legal action if at all possible and stop this in it's tracks.

Posted by: waynef | October 6, 2006 9:27 AM

I was thinking about getting broadband wireless next year (with a Treo 700p) and now I have to reconsider. I currently have a cheapo phone with the basic plan on Verizon. No complaints so far, but they are making money on me (I'm not the high user range).

One thing that people have to realize is the difference between High Speed Internet/Cable/DSL/FIOS that you get at home (by connecting to a physical cable and also having the ability to use a wirelss router) and the wireless broadband that you get from a cellular service.

Maybe it's not illegal, but it's just plain wrong. If there are restrictions from downloading illegal things (software, music, etc), I'm fine with that. But not allowing me (by putting a very small cap) to stream LEGAL music, movies is just wrong. They won't be getting my business (at least in terms of wireless broadband).

Posted by: Vz User | October 6, 2006 1:31 PM

When I moved from San Jose to Los Angeles, I called Verizon twice to make sure they were turning off my old service. Despite this, verizon continued to bill me at my old address for three months then forwarded me an overdue bill for $130 at my old address. They told me I had to pay the overdue amount first, then they would refund it. Having called ten times and waited 40 days, they still haven't refunded the money. I'm starting to think this wasn't an "accident".

Posted by: sam | October 16, 2006 1:49 PM

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