The settlement arises from Verizon’s “failure to investigate” rather than from actual call completion problems. Verizon has been collecting weekly samples of call answer rates in rural areas and reporting the data to the FCC. Over an eight-month period during 2013, low call answer rates in 39 rural areas should have triggered an investigation, the FCC said. The FCC asked Verizon what steps it took, and Verizon said in April 2014 that it investigated or fixed problems in 13 of the 39 areas but did nothing in the other 26.

Upon finally investigating the remaining 26 areas, the company “provided the results to the [FCC’s Enforcement] Bureau showing that, in Verizon’s estimation, the low call answer rates were not attributable to Verizon’s network or call completion practices.”

Verizon will pay a $2 million fine to the US Treasury and commit another $3 million over the next three years “to address the problem of rural call completion on a company and industry-wide basis,” an FCC announcement said. Verizon will have to appoint an internal ombudsman to centralize analysis of problems, develop a new system for identifying customer complaints that might be related to rural call completion problems, limit use of intermediate providers that are often the source of uncompleted calls, monitor call answer rates to identify problem areas, and report back to the commission regularly.

The story of how I don't have Verizon any more, but I do have T-Mobile

I am one of those into the new thing kind of tech people, when it comes to hardware.  I am also an apple person.  And yes, this does mean that I get the new iphone on the day it comes out.  It’s shiny and fun and exciting.  I realize all the things there are to make fun of about this, and I’m in for the laugh - I’m slightly ridiculous, but I’m *good* at my specific brand of weird.

Anyway, long story short: this morning at 6AM I was seated outside of the Verizon store in downtown Boston, with a slew of other schmucks as curious and excited as I was - freezing but content in my plans.  An hour passed, then 45 minutes on top of that and a friendly warm voice echoed out.

A number of details poured forth, among them “If you are not eligible for an upgrade, this is not the place you want to be! We can not sell you an iPhone today, you’ll have to wait until after the chaos!”  A record scratched in my mind and I looked at him as if he was made of badgers - which is to say with extreme confusion.

Waiting patiently for him to get to me, we had the following exchange:

THP: “Hi!  I’m sorry, you said you couldn’t sell phones to people without upgrades today?  I don’t have an upgrade but was coming here with the intention of paying retail price for the phone.”

Verizon Guy: “Oh, I’m sorry Sir we can’t sell it to you at full price today, you can only buy it at the upgrade price, with an upgrade.”

THP: “Surely there must be some way for you to take my money in exchange for this device”

VG: “No, I’m sorry, Sir we only have a very limited number of phones today, and there are so many people here so we can only sell them to people with upgrades”

THP: ” I am confused. I am here, and I am a person.  And I am a person trying to give your company money.  So… you don’t want my money?”

VG: “I’m sorry Sir, we have a limited number of…”

THP: “So there is NO way for me to buy this product from you.”

VG: “No, sorry.”

THP: “Okay.  You realize T-Mobile *points across street* buys out unfinished contracts, right?”

VG: “I do, Sir.”

THP: “Okay. I know this isn’t your call, but if you get a chance, tell someone higher up that this why there was a cancellation today.”

At which point I walked over to the T-Mobile and was helped by two incredibly friendly salespeople.  Honestly the best possible option.  They paid for my unfinished contract with Verizon, gave me a great price on my phone, gave me a cheaper plan that I had with Verizon on NO contract, and did it all with a smile. Oh, and they, you know- sold me a product.

I guess the moral is: If you sell something, let people buy it.  Especially if they’re willing to give you more money.

Hey #HockeyFightsDV friends.

I just had a really lovely chat with someone who works on the Hopeline from Verizon program about possibly organizing a phone donation drive at an LA Kings game (Verizon is a team sponsor already). He was thrilled to hear that fans are organizing to support domestic violence groups all season long, and asked that I help get out the word about a campaign they have going now that ends TOMORROW.

Between now and the end of October, Verizon will donate $3 for any social media message that includes the hashtag #VoicesHavePower. The money goes to support dating and domestic violence programs including Break the Cycle and the National Network to End Domestic Violence, as well as local organizations.

So far they’ve gotten more than 100,000 messages (which means more than $300,000 will be donated), but they are really eager to drive that number even higher before the end of Oct. 31.

Please send some social love to this campaign!

(If you also tag #HockeyFightsDV, that will help us go back to Verizon having demonstrated this rag-tag group of online fans could be a great potential partner for other campaigns.)

Do your thing, internet. Reblog, RT, pass it on, be awesome.

shananaomi

Big companies threaten to censor feminism, LGBT rights, and anti-racism

Tumblr has already completely forgotten this topic again, but I think people really don’t understand that it means much more than just an extremely messed up system that pretty much discriminates against anyone who isn’t wealthy enough to afford the fastlane, but it goes much further than that. Net Neutrality supporters claim Comcast will almost certainly block you from sites supporting feminism, LGBT, anti-racism, and other sites supporting people who otherwise don’t get any support at all. Comcast makes up 40% of all the internet in the States, is for many people the only option, and there even exist laws preventing other companies from challenging their monopoly. This includes tons of sites that have been around for years trying to bring attention to important causes, and even sites like forums or online chats for people going through heavy situations. And yes, this will to an extend affect people outside the states too. Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon view the internet like TV: You get the mainstream sites, but if you want anything else you need to pay, and much like TV, the majority will not be able to afford that luxury, meaning that people with access to social justice sites will be a tiny minority. If Net Neutrality is taken down, future generations won’t even be able to discuss the subjects Tumblr wants more attention for. You can no longer submit your comments or phone calls to the FCC, but please don’t let this topic die out and if any possible way for us to support Net Neutrality comes up, that plenty people will be aware of it. Let me also quickly remind you of the other things that could potentially slow down:

- Tumblr

- Online gaming

- Vimeo

- Kickstarter

- Etsy

- Imgur

- Reddit

- NSFW sites

Google has recently voiced their support of Net Neutrality, the democratic party wants Net Neutrality, a billboard hanging in New York shows videos of people supporting Net Neutrality, two protests (One right outside the FCC’s building), and millions of comments on the FCC’s site supporting Net Neutrality have been posted since Tumblr took part in the protest on the 10th. An estimate of 99.5% of all people taking part in discussing the topic want Net Neutrality. Yet, the FCC has still not responded to the protest, and all the companies have done is continue to make twisted and fake stories that they’re not going to do anything, which have been proven wrong about as quickly as they put them out. Supporters are currently requesting a town hall sort of meeting with Tom Wheeler, where people can express their opinions and disprove the claims from the companies directly to him. Please either reblog this or repost it and make sure to tag so everyone can see.

2

An online advertising clearinghouse relied on by Google, Yahoo and Facebook is using controversial cookies that come back from the dead to track the web surfing of Verizon customers.

The company, called Turn, is taking advantage of a hidden undeletable number that Verizon uses to monitor customers’ habits on their smartphones and tablets. Turn uses the Verizon number to respawn tracking cookies that users have deleted.

Turn’s zombie cookie comes amid a controversy about a new form of tracking the telecom industry has deployed to shadow mobile phone users. Last year, Verizon and AT&T users noticed their carriers were inserting a tracking number into all the Web traffic that transmits from a users’ phone – even if the user has tried to opt out.

Users complained that the tracking number could be used by any website they visited from their phone to build a dossier about their behavior – what sites they went to, what apps they used.

http://www.propublica.org/article/zombie-cookie-the-tracking-cookie-that-you-cant-kill

Verizon Wireless secretly tracks every site customers visit

Verizon wants to know everything you do online because that knowledge means more profit for them—and short of switching phone companies, there’s nothing you can do to stop it.

The second-richest Internet company in America has been injecting a unique 50-character identifier into its wireless customers’ Internet traffic for two years in order to track you and make money by advertising to you, Wired reports.

On the Web, tracking is money. GoogleFacebookTwitter, and many of cyberspace’s biggest players make billions by knowing every website you visit online.

Verizon’s actions, however, are unparalleled. As an Internet service provider, they’re in the position to deeply violate users’ privacy in a way that would make Mark Zuckerberg jealous. There’s no way to turn the tracking off, Verizon says, and other websites and ad networks can use the identifier to build a profile of everything you do online whether you consent or not.

[Read more]

Wireless telco users may want to see if they're being tracked.

According to a report in Wired, Verizon is injecting a “Unique Identifier Header,” or UIDH, into every single http request made by Verizon’s 123 million mobile users. That means that, if you’re a Verizon customer, every website you visit is being logged by Verizon and potentially shared with third parties. You can opt out of their tracking program, but you have to know that you’re being tracked first- and stuff like that is really the kind of thing that ought to be opt-in. Plus, let’s be honest…. if one wireless provider is doing it, the others probably are, too.

So. Want to see if they’re tracking where you go on the web when you use their service?

  1. Turn the wifi off on your wireless device.
  2. When you get a 3G, 4G, or LTE connection, fire up your phone’s browser- don’t use the mobile version of Chrome, it can mask tracking technologies like the UIDH.
  3. Go to http://amibeingtracked.com and hit the Test Now button.
  4. Once you get your results, tweet at your service provider to either thank them for respecting your privacy or let them know you don’t appreciate being secretly tracked and that users deserve a real opt-out option.
  5. If you’re an American mobile user, contact the FCC and the FTC to tell them what you think; the FCC’s contact page is here, the FTC’s contact page is here, and Access Now has a petition here.

Thought you might like to know.

Via The Daily Dot

Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong?

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called SugarString.com. The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

There’s just one catch: In exchange for the major corporate backing, tech reporters at SugarString are expressly forbidden from writing about American spying or net neutrality around the world, two of the biggest issues in tech and politics today.

Unsurprisingly, Verizon is deeply tangled up in both controversies.

Catchy name. You can view it here.

Dear Verizon:

I want a new cell phone.  Mine is getting old and you sent me a lovely text message some months ago saying I’m eligible for an upgrade.  So I head over to the closest store, eagerly anticipating the joy of comparing stats and reviews and forking over a couple hundred dollars and walking out with a new cell phone in hand.  I am not being facetious.  I actually do enjoy shopping for tech.

I am now in week two of cell phone hell.

You see, I have an unlimited data plan.  I got this unlimited plan a long time ago when I lived in a city where Verizon was literally the only option and I’ve been happy with your service so far.  You don’t drop calls, after all, and while your 4G service blows donkey balls, it’s at least consistent in getting me the data I request.

Unless it’s raining.  At which case we’re all fucked.

Although, after my recent experiences, I do wonder if you’re secretly throttling the data of all the remaining unlimited plans.  It wouldn’t surprise me at this point.  But, regardless of the reason why your data is slower than a giraffe trying to run a marathon with its head stuck up its ass, it’s always there.

Unless it rains.

So I figured, hey, I’ll stick with the devil I know.  Plus, the only carrier worth shit around here is AT&T and they don’t have unlimited data either.  Believe me, I checked.  I checked with everyone I knew and all the reviews online to see if there were ANY option other than Verizon after my experience in your store.

You see, I love my unlimited data.  So when the sales guy in your store told me, with the hopeless look in his eyes of someone that knows he’s just been screwed by his upper management because there is no fucking way he can do anything other than piss the customer off, that I couldn’t upgrade my phone without losing my unlimited data, I immediately ruled a new phone through Verizon off my list of options.

It’s not that I need unlimited data.  It’s that I enjoy not having to worry about it.

But someone in your bloated carcass of a company thought, yanno, our swimming pools of cash aren’t gold-plated.  Time Warner has gold-plated swimming pools.  Why don’t we have gold-plate yet?  And then you all sat down and figured out how best to bleed every drop of blood out of your customer base like the parasitic leeches you are.

Data caps are a brilliant invention.  We pay you for data we don’t use and then pay you again if we have the audacity to use up all that data.  And then we get the additional stress of having to monitor our data usage instead of using our phones any damn way we please.  I had to monitor my text message usage a year ago and every time it got near the limit there were phrases like ‘cock-sucking locust’ being tossed around.  (hint: you’re the cock-sucking locust)  It’s not about over-burdening the network, either.  The average person’s data usage is on the low side of the spectrum.  No, you implemented these plans because you could make more money on them.

And you are.  You certainly are.  When you swapped over you told all us unlimited people that the new plans would save us money!  We’d only pay for what we used!

Hah.

Hahahaha.

You lying sacks of shit.

The guy in the store told me the data cap plan I’d need would cost me $5 more a month.  I laughed in his face and walked out.  Of course, my laugh had that hysterical tinge of, ‘you have got to be fucking kidding me they aren’t even trying to hide the fact they’re ripping me off anymore’ to it, but it still felt good to literally laugh in someone’s face and then leave.  The last time I got to do that was when a coworker asked me out and it felt really good then, too.  I checked online and the website claimed it would cost me $10 more a month.  More hysterical laughter.  And your twitter representative claimed it would be the same price.  At that point, I’d pretty much given up and hope and was just wasting their time because why the hell not?

Regardless of what the reality is: NONE OF THESE SAVE ME MONEY.

Do I need to draw you a diagram?  Do the math for you and break it down by how much per gig of data I’d be paying?

Assuming I’m interpreting this math right (it’s been quite a few years since I took fancy math in college), the unlimited data plan has the cheaper price per gig because as my data uses increases, the cost approaches 0.  Mathematically speaking, it is impossible for your data cap plans to save me money.  (again, assuming I’m interpreting this right)  Oh, sure, from terms of overall cost there’s a couple data plans that would save me money because I’d be paying less each month - but those aren’t the plans that would work for me.  The best you could offer was matching my current monthly cost.

Needless to say, I won’t be getting a new contract with you rancid piles of expelled uterine lining.  And the day you manage to finally force me off my grandfathered unlimited data is the day I give you the middle finger - again - and walk out and over to AT&T.  Yes, they don’t have unlimited data.  But if I’m going to get fucked over by a company, I’m going to make sure my money is lining your competitor’s pockets.

I used to like Verizon.  I’d say nice things on your surveys.  I’d tell other people how great your service was.  I even convinced my mother to get a Verizon plan when she wanted to get a cell phone!  I regret that now.  And let me make this absolutely clear: I have nothing against your employees.  The people I’ve interacted with had the personality of people who’s hope and joy of life has been forcibly removed through their nostrils, true, but I’m pretty sure that’s the result of your policies.  It’s corporate that I take issue with and believe me, I hate you dog-fuckers now.

So anyway, I thought - okay.  I can buy my own device and just port everything over to it.  I start calling around and after quite a bit of legwork I find out the phone that I want has two versions.  The unlocked version and the Verizon replacement version.

The unlocked version is roughly $400.

The Verizon replacement version is $600.

Because apparently you shitwads want to line your gold swimming pools of cash with diamonds.

Oh, and the unlocked version is out of stock.  So I’m just going to bide my time here, maybe root my current phone to squeak a bit more life out of it, and snatch up one of the current gens once they release the next model and they’re all on sale.

Because at this point, I will do whatever it takes to keep my unlimited data.  Not because I need it, but because I hate you.

Blow me,

Verizon Customer