Gray Flannel Dwarf

3/25/2004

The Verizon Battle is ON!

“You do realize, of course, that this means war!” — Looney Tunes

I called Verizon today to get the address for their customer relations department. I got it, and the woman asked if she could help me with anything. As far as I was concerned, this was their last chance. I talked with her for a few minutes about the situation.

Well, she was nice enough… and at least she tried.


Corey Welton
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Potomac Falls, Virginia
20165

25 March 2004

Verizon Customer Relations
8149 Walnut Grove Rd
Mechanicsville, Virginia
23111

To Whom it may Concern:

My name is Corey Welton, and I am a current customer of Verizon for my local telephone services. As it stands, I would like to get DSL on my home phone line, as well, but for seemingly unknown business policy decisions at Verizon, I am currently unable.

This is not a technological issue. I understand the issue behind DSL technology. Historically, the area in which I live has been unable to get DSL, due to fibre on the phone loop, en route to the Central Office (CO). For some, this has recently been resolved by the installation of Remote Terminals (RTs) in the area to bypass the aforementioned fibre. Customers have been specifically told that the reason for these RT installs is to resolve the DSL issue.

I recently moved from one location in Sterling, Virginia, to another, while keeping the same phone number. The former location had no remote terminals nearby; the latter is in an area where these terminals are being built. Upon moving to the new location, I talked with Verizon DSL, and was told that there was an RT within proximity to my house, but that my address was not updated in the records. They said to call back in a few weeks. Continued attempts thereafter to qualify continue to show DSL was unavailable. It quickly became very obvious to me that, after moving, Verizon did not route my number through the remote terminal associated with this neighbourhood. Rather, they took the (most likely simpler) route of just reconnecting my phone line with the new address. A few weeks later, upon calling, this theory was all but confirmed for me, when I was told that I still had fibre on the loop and was further told that there was no record of any remote terminal in my area.

This seemed strange, but the story didn’t end there.

Indeed, the location of the RT was confirmed while talking to a Verizon engineer who was in my neighbourhood a few weekends ago; he pointed about 200 yards up the street, to an RT that had been installed. When asked if it would be possible to get my line routed through this RT, so that I could get DSL, he said it was possible, by talking to the local office.

Upon talking to the local office, the woman told me that she had heard of this situation before, that she could empathise, but that it would be very unlikely that I could get the number rerouted through the RT. She then forwarded me to the Repairs department, which she said would be the only group who would be able to do this.

Repairs, in turn, said there was no way it would be done, but that they would double-check with the Business Office. After putting me on hold to talk with the Business Office, it was confirmed that, indeed, under no circumstances would it be possible to get my number rerouted through the RT. Incredulously, even offering to pay to have the service done was to no avail.

So what we have here is a very obvious business decision to not reroute existing phone services through the RTs. I am not alone in coming to this conclusion; there are several documented cases of people in this area being unable to get their existing phone numbers routed through the RT and thus being unable to get DSL while at the same time, new neighbours move in, get new Verizon service, and their new lines are routed through, thus qualifying them for DSL. Indeed, it seems that if I wanted to simply get a new phone number, that the new number itself would be correctly routed, and I could get DSL on that line. I do not wish to get a new number, however, and the only constraints on my ability to get DSL are procedural, rather than technical.

This simply does not make sense to me, from a business perspective. Verizon installed the RTs primarily to overcome technical limitations in this area for providing DSL, and yet Verizon will only route new local phone services through these RTs. The only options in this area for broadband is a very unsatisfactory cable-modem provider, and thus it beguiles the mind, quite frankly, to think that Verizon is willing to pass up an easy, constant $50 a month from potential Verizon DSL customers simply because the company does not wish to reroute said potential customers’ phone lines. Does it not seem that if customers call in to specifically request this action, that they desire to pay for a service that would be very easy for Verizon to provide? I simply can’t understand the logic at hand.

As it stands, Verizon is currently getting $30 a month from me for providing local phone service. Why Verizon would not want to get an additional $50 for providing me with DSL, when it is technically feasible, is beyond me, but that is Verizon’s decision. Meanwhile, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 has allowed customers to make decisions of their own as well, specifically in choosing their local phone service provider. This said, I see little reason to remain with Verizon when it provides service that is unresponsive and inadequate to the needs of its customers. Switching providers will not provide me with DSL, as the lines are leased from Verizon, but it would at least provide satisfaction in knowing I am getting the best my service money can buy.

Please note that I am not alone in this consideration, as much of my neighbourhood is similarly-aware of the situation at hand. Verizon’s inability and/or unwillingness to roll-out DSL to this area has been widely documented in published letters to the local Loudoun Easterner and the Washington Post newspapers over the past few years we now feel it is only right to take the necessary financial steps, unless appropriate measures are taken, or at very least, a reasonable explanation is given.

A response to these issues is requested. If necessary, I can be reached by mobile phone at 202.xxx.xxxx, but not in lieu of an expedient, written response to these issues. Failure to respond in a timely and/or satisfactory manner will accelerate the cancellation of my existing Verizon services and my subsequent boycott of services the company provides, not to mention the possibility of similar actions by others in my community, as well.

Thank you very much for your time I look forward to reading your response.

Sincerely,

(signed)

Corey Welton.


cswiii @ 4:19 pm

3/17/2004

As the Verizon World Turns

Here’s my latest soap opera/saga with Verizon.

To recap:
* A lot of people out here can’t get DSL because of fiber loops on the phone lines
* Verizon has been remedying this by installing Remote Terminals which bypass the fibre loops.
* When I moved, I did so to an area where I pretty much suspected that there are, or would be, remote terminals installed.

About 3 wknds ago, I happened to catch a VZ Tech outside in the neighborhood. I asked him about the remote terminal issues, asking if there were any plans to expand and install them out this way, and/or whether or not I would be able to use the RT out in the cascades area. He pointed about 200 yards down the street at the tan box, and said, “well, that’s your remote terminal right there”. He did mention that orders are going in fast, so that I had to keep trying to get an order. That’s fine. I expected that. I asked if, in the off-chance that my phone number was not routed through the RT, could I get it done. He said yeah, it could be done.

A few days later, I called Verizon. Sure enough, they told me I was on a fibre loop, and in something that sound familiar to an issue that I remember hearing someone else nearby had, my number was not routed through that RT… despite the fact that I am just down the street from it. I guess when I moved from Chatham Green to Potomac Falls, they just rerouted my number in the system, but didn’t route it through the RT — my guess is because the latter would take more effort; I can almost guarantee you that if I got a brand spanking new phone line, it would be routed through.

So of course, I asked if I could be routed through it. The woman gave me the number of the local engineering office. I talked with them, they told me that it probably couldn’t be done, but that they’d heard of the issue before, and that it would have to be handled through the repairs dept.

They patched me through to repairs, who pretty much said that under no uncertain terms, could they reroute me. I raised a bit of a stink — I said that it made no sense, that VZ would be guaranteed an easy $40/mo from me via DSL subscription, if they could make this change. The guy reiterated, but said I would have to take that up w/ the business office. He then put me on hold, apparently called up the Business Office, and confirmed that no, they still wouldn’t do it.

I’m sorry, but what a bunch of asshats!

So what am I gonna do? Well, I think I am gonna switch local service to CavTel. I only need local service on my land line anyway, and I figure I have no need to support a company so unresponsive to the needs of consumers out here; likewise, VZ is gonna get a nastygram from me regarding their incompentency. So instead of gaining an extra $40 from me each month, they’ll lose $30 that they’d normally be getting for local service coverage.

Meanwhile, I am hoping that CavTel, in the process of taking over my line, can properly route me through the RT. I will talk with them first about this to try and estimate the feasibility.

Verizon has ticked me off for the last time, as far as I’m concerned.


cswiii @ 7:54 pm

3/5/2006

The wacky, wild world of Ma Bell.

So, okay, let me get this straight.

* I used to have AT&T as my local phone service when I lived in Northern Virginia — as a protest against Verizon’s refusal to offer broadband — and then AT&T later on decides they are no longer going to take on new local service.

* I had AT&T Wireless as my mobile phone provider, until AT&T sold it to Cingular.

* AT&T Corp. was bought by SBC whereupon the new corporate name became “AT&T”

* Now, AT&T is purchasing BellSouth — who happens to be my telco/dsl provider — and why? (emphasis mine)

AT&T Inc. said Sunday it will acquire smaller rival BellSouth Corp. for $67 billion in stock, in an apparent bid for total control of their growing joint venture, Cingular Wireless LLC

But wait, there’s more…

AT&T was formed by San Antonio-based SBC’s acquisition of AT&T Corp. in November. The deal added a substantial national reach to the former Southwestern Bell’s local business, which is concentrated in 13 states, including Texas, California, and the Midwest.

BellSouth is the dominant local telephone provider in nine Southeastern states.

And more…

Under the deal, the Cingular brand will be phased out in favor of the AT&T brand. The name will be familiar to wireless customers: AT&T Wireless Inc., a spin-off of AT&T, was acquired by Cingular in October 2004.

Let’s just forget about the elephant in the room for a while, namely the continued mergers in a monopolised industry that was broken up by the government… forget about it because it’s obvious why so many of these players have had so much trouble in the past few years: all these spinoffs and mergers and acquisitions are costing companies mad cash and they’re all going in circies, chasing their tails.
Meanwhile, it’s the executives of these large corporations who keep getting the bonuses and appointments due to their “successes” and “synergies”.

Kinda makes you wonder who’re really the ones getting the shaft, right?

(Not really…)


Tags: , , , , — cswiii @ 5:30 pm

3/9/2005

Hate the playa, not the game.

Forbes.com put up a somewhat amusing article in which they highlight their top ten nine “corporate hate” websites.

Despite the obvious lack of love I have for M$, there are two others on there for which my distaste has been fairly well-documented.

This said, I dunno, I… just can’t see spending so much time on a website like that. I got a little bit obsessive over the Verizon thing, but I don’t think a website like that does the trick, at least for me, to blow off steam. Being more proactive, writing the company and, if it comes down to it, letters to Important People and Publications always gives me more of a sense of accomplishment.

Then again, if those websites actually end up encouraging people to do the same, then more power to them.


Tags: — cswiii @ 2:17 pm

2/1/2005

All Ma Bells are the Same

I was really hoping it wouldn’t happen, that I would be happy with Bell South after having to deal with Verizon for so long, but they’ve already gotten off on the wrong foot with me.

Yesterday, I filled out my order online to get phone and DSL (!!) service. I entered the address of the property, fully spelling out the suffix (“Court”, “Avenue”, “Street”, etc.). The system then returned to me a list of similar addresses, asking me to choose the closest one. I thought that was a bit strange, but the first one was the correct address — it just had “Court” abbreviated as CT — so I selected it and went on with the process. I got my confirmation number in the email later that day.

This morning, I wake up to an email that says:

Thank you for your recent request to establish new telephone service.
Unfortunately, we cannot process your order and your request has been
cancelled for the reason(s) listed below.

Reason we are unable to complete your request:
Unfortunately, we have not been able to locate the
address listed below in order to fulfill your request
for telephone service.

That’s right. I select the address that THEY had listed on THEIR website. They even confirm the address further down in the email. So I called up BellSouth — who is obviously outsourcing their customer service, based on the two people to whom I spoke today — and sure enough, the woman there was able to confirm the address, and wasn’t sure why it was cancelled.

I was given the option to re-submit the order with her… but I would lose the “order online and save!” incentives.

We will see, tomorrow morning, what happens with my order…


cswiii @ 12:03 pm

2/17/2004

“…A Cellular Mesh of Lies” (Jack Kerouac)

So it looks like my mobile provider will be going the way of the little orange guy soon. Not sure what I think of this. I’ve heard of a lot of people who have had problems with both ATTWS and Cingular — then again, I hear about that with every mobile phone provider. Personally, I’ve had fewer problems with ATTWS, in most respects, than with any other provider I’ve had… specifically Verizon and Nextel.

At very least, I think this would mean that I’ll get better coverage than before. We’ll see what happens.


cswiii @ 9:45 am

9/5/2003

SLICs and fibres and coils, oh my!

So I did a little researching today, and had an interesting talk w/ one of the verizon phone techs. He was pretty helpful and sympathetic to my issue re: dsl…. and it was through him that I discovered the technical issue as to why i can’t get DSL i.e., it’s not fibre lines, or coils, or that my phone number is in a “foreign exchange”, etc… he told me that I was on a digital loop carrier (DLC). This was another theory that I was aware of, but he confirmed it.

Talking w/ him, he eventually conceded that, yes, it is technically feasible to have my line removed from behind the DLC but that the engrs won’t generally come out and remove the line from the DLC unless there are probs w/ the line itself… to have it removed would be a matter of talking to the right people at the right time. He did even go so far as to give me the number of the local engineering office, however.

So now I am at the social engineering phase…. any suggestions as how to approach this?


cswiii @ 7:15 pm

Why would SDSL be avail when ADSL isn’t?

(cross-posted at BroadBandReports.com)

This one is pretty confusing to me – although I have my suspicions as to why, mentioned later – and I’m hoping someone out there can give me an answer.

Like most people in Loudoun County (Virginia), I can’t get DSL because of fibre in one form or another, be it lines underground or SLICs. Verizon tells me I can’t get DSL when I try prequal, as does Earthlink and all the major “consumer” oriented ISPs.

However, the strange part is that companies that offer “business” tiered DSL options, such as COVAD, Speakeasy etc., do give me DSL options… but only SDSL, despite the fact that the do have ADSL provisions.

A clearer example: If I try a prequal, requesting home service on either COVAD or Speakeasy’s site, I only get business-class SDSL options of up to 384 or 768. That is to say, while they do not specifically say “no, you can’t get regular consumer ADSL”, any such listing is excluded, and only business options are shown.

Why would a company be able to offer me SDSL of speeds up to 768/768, if regular ole consumer-oriented ADSL isn’t available?

It’s my suspicion that they’re a whole lot more willing to “stick their necks out”, placate business needs and get things fixed, when they’re going to make their $$$ selling “business-class”, SLA (service level agreement)-laden SDSL. However, if there is a technical reason, I’d be interested in learning it.

Thanks.


cswiii @ 12:05 pm

7/21/2003

Woo!

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A8858-2003Jul17?language=printer

(more…)


cswiii @ 9:14 pm

3/5/2003

I know I’m not anemic…

…cuz I’m pretty sure I’ve received quite the iron supplement, continually getting shafted six degrees from Sunday, the way I have, by local utility companies.

People call New Jersey the “armpit of the US”. I can now say, with reasonably certainty, that Eastern Loudoun must be the crotch.

First it was Verizon, whose failed and/or abandoned FTTC experiments means I can’t get DSL to my home. Then it was Adelphia, who can’t get their crap together enough to run high-speed cable out here. Both of these mean there is no broadband, a woe to which I have alluded before, plenty of times. The newest addition to my list, however, is the two-bit dungpile of a company known as MDU.

Let me explain.

Well, the whole Adelphia thing has stuck in my craw long enough, that I don’t really even want their cable service, either; I decided it was time to get DirecTV. I knew I didn’t/don’t have direct southern exposure, but that didn’t seem to stop the dozens of others who appear to have dishes in the little roof alcoves between buildings. So this past weekend, when I see a great deal on the service, I sign up.

Yesterday, was the planned installation date. However, the guys get out here, immediately mumbling something about “MDU”… and then say that they can’t install the dish. They go on to explain to me that all the coax in and out of the building have to be run through a little box down in the breezeway. These boxes are apparently owned by some company, “MDU”, who steadfastly refuses to allow anyone access to the boxes. MDU has threatened lawsuits if any other contractor touches them. The guys told me that any DirecTV installs would have to be done by MDU.

As soon as I heard that, the pit in my stomach deepened, as I had a feeling I knew what that meant. The guys showed me one of the boxes elsewhere in the development that had MDU’s number on it, and headed out. I headed home to call them.

Sure enough, my premonition was correct. Monopoly power abuse — even by a piddly little OTC-traded ratshack like MDU. I call them up… no, they do not participate in DirecTV promotionals, meaning I would have to pay for equipment and setup. In addition, I would be assessed a quarterly or yearly equipment usage fee of about $99.

WTF.


cswiii @ 1:36 pm

6/24/2002

gaddamit.

If there was any hope in the first place, it’s all gone. There’s no way I’ll ever get broadband now.

In retrospect, I guess this pissed-off letter I recently sent to Verizon now looks a bit foolish


cswiii @ 11:47 am