He wanted to change cell phone providers, while retaining his same number.
It was much harder than it sounds.
The story did not end there. Larry writes:
I previously wrote about my unsettling experience with Verizon. When I switched from another carrier, they guaranteed I would retain the number I had for more than 10 years, only to change it without notice or authorization.
My contract with Verizon was for $30 a month. But I received a bill for $84.84 for the most recent billing period — although I used the phone for only 4 minutes.
After 45 minutes on the phone, I was told there was a charge for changing my number. In addition to the $30 monthly fee, there was another charge of $30 for line access — so my bill going forward would be $60 a month, not the $30 I signed up for.
Nowhere on the bill does it explain those charges.
I said ‘’Please cancel my contract.‘’ However, I was told I cannot cancel until November 25 — the end of the next billing cycle. That means that in addition to the $84.84 now due, I will be charged an additional $60.
If I were to pay these bills — which I have no intention of doing — it will have cost me almost $300 for the 3 months I have been with Verizon on a $30 monthly plan, during which time I used the phone for less than 15 minutes.
That does not even take into account the many hours I spent on hold and in the store — only to be told when I finally reached a live human being that there was nothing they could do to assist me.
This seems to be a clear case of corporate greed verging on piracy, lack of transparency, and an arcane system that has no regard for honest communication, responsibility or customer satisfaction.
Perhaps some “06880” readers would like to accompany me when I am summoned to Small Claims Court, after Verizon attempts to collect what they claim is owed.
Alert — and angry — “06880” reader Lawrence Weisman writes:
For reasons not relevant here, I wanted to change my cell phone account from one provider to another, while retaining the phone number I used for many years.
I went to the Verizon store in Southport. After an hour and a half I was told by the sales associate that an account had been opened, and my number would stay the same. She even placed a test call to that number to confirm it worked.
But when I returned home after a brief surgery, I discovered that in fact my number had been changed. No one had been able to reach me in my absence.
I revisited the Verizon store. The same associate reviewed the paperwork. She assured me she was not at fault — but alas, she did not know how to solve the problem.
I then spent almost 4 hours on the phone with what is euphemistically called “customer service.” I listened to elevator music (with the phone on speaker long enough for me to shave and shower), only to be told that nothing can be done to remedy the situation.
However, I should rest assured that the department involved was not at fault. That was followed by the requisite: “Is there anything else we can do to be of assistance today?”
So, Verizon has established to its satisfaction that the sales associate was not at fault, the department involved was not at fault, and they are therefore absolved of all responsibility.
I am stuck with having to inform dozens of people, credit cards and internet providers that I have a new and unwanted phone number. And I have no remedy, beyond sharing my outrage and frustration with your readers.
In 2018, Marliese Aguele wrote a guest post for “06880.” She decried the ugliness — and danger — of the increasing number of cables on utility lines.
This update was all set to run in mid-March. It got pushed back several times, due to more urgent COVID and other news.
But now — in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Isaias — it seems more relevant than ever. Marliese says:
Westport is invaded, with trucks everywhere installing heavy 5G cables.
Providers like Optimum, Verizon and Frontier compete for contracts to install cables, which is very lucrative for them.
Contracts are outsourced from providers to companies of their choice anywhere in the country. Trucks do not display the name of a company, so no one can reach them after sloppy installation.
This town is overloaded with thick cables, curled-up cables, new black attachments wrapped around the cables, looking uglier than ever, installed haphazardly crisscrossing overhead in all directions.
Low cables on South Compo Road. (Photo/Morgan Mermagen)
There are poles with 17 cables attached. No consideration for esthetics. The town receives generous revenues from cable installation companies. That is all they care about.
Nobody wants to get involved, or has the authority. Driving on the Post Road, I took the liberty of speaking with an installer. He explained that companies are required to get a license/work permit from the state Public Utilities Regulatory Agency.
I spoke to another installer on Long Lots, working overhead from a truck with a New Jersey license plate. I was shown a document headed “Parkside Utility,” with no town or phone number.
I wondered why a license did not require a stamp and receipt of fee that all professionals and companies must pay. Who makes sure Connecticut is not being defrauded of much needed revenues?
I realize it is a difficult task to install the cables. I appreciate companies that make an effort, as best they can. Unfortunately, other firms perform very sloppy work.
Cables crisscross the crowded Post Road/Roseville/Hillspoint intersection.
How many more cables can they attach to overloaded poles? They droop lower and lower. It is only a matter of time before the pole on Kings Highway North snaps in half, killing the driver of a car waiting for the Wilton Road light to change. I make sure never to stop under it.
Frightened, I called the police. I was told to call the utility company.
There must be an end. Visitors are appalled at the ugliness that invades Westport. We deserve better.
Eversource has deployed its “Make Safe” crew as of 6 this morning, so progress is expected on blocked roadways. The town Department of Public Works has initiated the cleanup of trees and debris, and many previously impassable roads are now clear. Emergency access is prioritized.
Here’s what some of Westport still looks like, 72 hours after Isaias struck. This is on Charcoal Hill Road. (Photo/Pat Blaufuss)
Police are aware of the signal light outages at high traffic intersections and are making efforts to monitor them as power continues to be restored. Temporary signage and other warning devices have been deployed as equipment inventory allows in the areas determined to be of greatest need. However, please understand that the Police Department cannot safely or effectively provide personnel to manually direct traffic at all of the main intersections. Attempting to do so only creates more traffic back up and further disruption. Motorists should continue to proceed through intersections with caution and obey temporary signage where posted. Please allow extra time to reach your intended destination to account for increased traffic on our roadways.
AT&T Wireless and Verizon Wireless teams have been working around the clock to restore cellular service in Westport. Last night, Verizon successfully deployed a spot cell at the Compo beach area. AT&T has deployed a mobile cell tower at the Police Station. Many of the surrounding cell sites are back on line.
· The charging station is currently down at the Senior Center. Charging stations and WiFi can be accessed at the rear of Town Hall (110 Myrtle Avenue via access through St. John’s Place) and the Westport Weston Health District (180 Bayberry Lane) in addition to WiFi access at the Library (20 Jesup Road).
· Non-potable water filling stations are available at all fire houses.
The Verizon mobile hot spot, near the Compo Beach skate park. (Photo/Matt Murray)
Rizzuto’s has rented a 175kw generator. They and the Lobster Shack are open from 4 to 9:30 p.m. today for takeout and dine-in. Their phones and internet are out, so you can’t order ahead. No problem — both restaurants are well worth the trip!
Also open with a generator: Gold’s. They’re there until 4 p.m. today (or until they run) — same thing tomorrow. Certain items only, of course. They too have no phone, no internet and no power. Old school!
Gold’s is pure gold!
Looking for fresh food — and want to buy local?
Check out Belta Farms, on Bayberry Lane!
This crew arrived from Nova Scotia. They spent a few hours in the Unitarian Church parking lot, and have now started working. Thanks, Canada — good thing the border was opened for them!
Looking for an up-to-date list of what’s open, closed or semi-operating downtown? Click here for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association list.
Click here for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s list of restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery services. In addition to ordering delivery directly, Seamless, Grubhub and UberEats also deliver without personal contact. They can leave the food at the door. Payment is automatically processed through a credit card in their systems. Most Westport restaurants are participating in one or more of these services.
Another resource: FindingWestport.com. Their “What’s Open” page includes stores, restaurants, gyms, services, real estate firms and salons around town.
To protect the public and police officers during the COVID-19 emergency, the Westport Police Department encourages telephone contact, rather than visits to headquarters.
Calls made to non-emergency and emergency lines will continue to be answered as always. The operator will ask questions about the nature and details of the call, to determine whether officers are required to respond.
Officers will continue to respond to crimes in progress, violent offenses and medical emergencies. If the call does not meet criteria for response but requires follow-up, the call taker will log the complaint. An officer or detective will remotely conduct a follow-up investigation.
The records division will no longer process requests at the window. All records related inquiries should be directed to 203- 341-6001. Requested records will be sent electronically
In addition, fingerprinting services are suspended indefinitely. ‘
Effective today, the Saugatuck and Greens Farms railroad stations buildings are closed to the public. This has no impact on normal railroad operations.
The closures are meant to keep people from congregating in close contact. It is unknown how long they will last.
The building is closed. Trains are still operating.
Westporters without health insurance can pick up coverage starting tomorrow through April 2, through Access Health CT. Click here for information. (Hat tip: Mary Jennings)
Earthplace is continually updating its website with ideas and resources for crafts, home study, and outdoor and online activities. Click here for details.
Concerned reader Lindsey Blaivas writes:
Many of us have people come to our homes on a weekly basis — cleaning crews (mine are like family), babysitters (also like family), piano teachers and more.
Each have their own families and rely on their income. Please consider supporting them — for example, through Skype lessons or outdoor alternatives for cleaning crews (grills, outdoor furniture, garage cleaning). Think creatively.
Or maybe just pay them as you normally would, because they (like us) need to survive and protect their families. My cleaning people have reported many clients are cancelling without pay.
Please consider the macro impact on micro thinking. It’s not just one person cancelling — it’s everyone.
Grateful reader Deborah Green called Verizon with a question about her iPhone. She did not want to come in, because of her age.
Manager Dominic di Pasquale — whom she had never met — answered her question. Then, remarkably, he told Deborah to call if she needed him to shop for groceries or do any other errands!
She thanked him profusely. He replied simply, “We all have to be there for each other during these times.”
She made one more call: to Verizon’s HR department, to praise their magnificent employee.
The other day, Congressman Jim Himes held a fascinating, informative telephone town hall. He’s got another one set for tomorrow (Thursday, March 19, 3:30 p.m.)
The call-in number is 855-962-0953. The streaming link is Himes.House.Gov/Live.
For answers to his most frequently asked questions, click here. (Hat tip: Nicole Klein)
Congressman Jim Himes
Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates is — like many small businesses — struggling. But owner Aarti Khosla is still thinking of others.
Customers can buy her “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts, to send to first responders, hospital workers and others on the front lines. She’ll match whatever you buy, to let them know how much we appreciate their work.
She started by campaign by donating 100 hearts to Norwalk Hospital and EMS. Click here to donate.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has extended its Soup Contest through April. They encourage everyone to try soups via restaurant takeout or delivery services.
Stephen Bloch and his wife moved to Stonybrook Road in 2002. He’s a partner in a Westport venture capital firm. In an earlier career, he was a practicing physician.
The Blochs have spotty cell service at home. There’s a dead zone in the area, not far from Earthplace.
Verizon wants to enhance coverage. You’d figure the Blochs would be happy.
They are anything but.
The company plans to put a mini-cell tower on a utility pole in the couple’s front yard, 60 yards from their home. Verizon says that’s the best place for it.
The Blochs — and their neighbors — disagree.
The Blochs’ home (left), and the utility pole (right) where Verizon hopes to install a mini-cell tower.
Bloch — who, you will recall, has a medical degree — is concerned about possible biological effects of radio frequency waves emitted by the mini-tower.
And — just as disturbing — Bloch says that Verizon refuses to share any technical details about performance and safety of the devices.
“There’s no information about shielding, direction of the beam – nothing.”
“We’ve gotten no specs” from the company, he adds. “So we can’t even tell whether it’s compliant” with existing laws and regulations.
Bloch notes that current rules were written for large cell towers — not these new mini ones.
“Whenever I ask, all they say is, ‘We follow FCC regulations,'” Bloch says. “I’ve asked them to demonstrate the need for these. I’ve never gotten any answers.”
Bloch says there was “a big uproar” in Palo Alto when Verizon proposed a similar mini-tower. Ultimately, he says, the utility got what it wanted.
A typical mini-cell tower.
“They want to do this here by fiat,” says Bloch. They hide behind legal precedent, and a weak appeals process.”
The appeals process requires them to spend a day at Public Utilities Regulatory Agency headquarters in New Britain. They’re slated to meet December 15. Verizon must appear that day too.
But, Bloch says exasperatedly, “Just getting that appointment was incredibly difficult.”
He says there is only one other similar mini-cell tower in Westport: in front of Ned Dimes Marina at Compo Beach. That’s much further away from any homes than Verizon’s proposed Stonybrook site.
First selectman Jim Marpe and town attorney Ira Bloom have written letters supporting the Blochs, and helped propose alternative pole locations either on public land or further away from houses. But, Bloch says, “Verizon will not consider it.”
He doesn’t think Verizon will listen on December 15 either. But, he notes, “PURA has to consider public comment.”
He doesn’t expect Westporters to flock to New Britain to support him and his wife, in their battle against a large utility company.
But, he says, “we welcome public comment on ‘06880.’”
Cablevision has been my internet provider since the day they came to Westport. In fact, I remember watching a demo of something called a “cable modem” on the 2nd floor of Klein’s department store (!). I realized how much better it was than a dial-up modem (!!), and became one of their 1st dozen or so customers here.
I’d already had Cablevision TV, since the early ’80s. I still remember the thrill I got watching news that was “as local as local gets,” and realizing there was a whole universe of channels beyond 13.
Which doesn’t stop Cablevision from mailing me — every 2 or 3 days — urging pressuring me to upgrade, consolidate and/or bundle all my communication needs together.
Despite recent “06880” posts to the contrary, the US Postal Service is in no danger of going away. Cablevision keeps them hopping.
AT&T helps too.
They’ve been my phone provider ever since I’ve had a phone. Now I’m an iPhone customer too. I’m not one of the millions of Americans who complains. I find AT&T service perfectly fine adequate.
But they too mail me with stalker-ish frequency. AT&T also demands all my internet, TV and phone business.
I don’t plan to change internet providers — or drop my landline — for one fossil-sounding, but important, reason: Too many people know my email address and phone number. Both are out there in Rolodexes, contact lists and cyberspace — and on dozens, if not hundreds, of websites — and have been for decades. For someone who is self-employed — and depends on people finding him me for work — changing them is too daunting a task.
That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.
Faithful “06880” reader Andy Yemma has a similar story — with a different ending.
I’ve been a customer of both AT&T and Cablevision since we moved to Westport nearly 2 decades ago (I think it was actually SNET before it was SBC before it was AT&T). Back in the ’90s it was simply AOL for email and SNET for phone calls.
I remember installing my first high-speed cable modem, purchased at “Nobody Beats the Wiz” (remember that?) on New Year’s Eve 1999, showing my faith in my notion that Y2K would be no big deal.
In recent years the technology of television (digital and hi-def), internet (WiFi and cellular) and phone (VOIP and cellular) have evolved with increasing speed.
And, by the way, who uses voicemail anymore? A couple of weeks ago my AT&T voicemail service quit working. After several unfruitful calls to AT&T, I discovered that they had “upgraded” my voicemail box and I needed to start calling another number. This of course led the AT&T representative to try to sell me on their bundled package of phone/internet/TV services, which she promised would save me a bundle over Cablevision.
Suddenly I realized that the monopolies of the phone and cable companies had gone kaput. Now there’s competition for my business from Cablevision, AT&T and Verizon — all offering bundled packages. The offers are tiered, depending upon the level of service and features and internet speed.
They’re very complicated, and almost impossible from my POV to compare side-by-side. All of the competitors promise the best deal, and diss the competition.
I thought perhaps Dan’s loyal commentators might offer views on this — what’s been your experience with the various providers? Should I take the plunge and switch providers — and if so to which one? A kilobyte for your thoughts?
The New York Times technology columnist, “Missing Manual” publisher, Emmy-winning CBS correspondent and frequent NPR guest is a Westporter. I’m proud to call him a friend.
I’m particularly excited about his latest crusade, announced today in his weekly (free) email column: a nationwide effort to get US cellphone carriers to change the obnoxious, minutes-eating “instructions” we hear many times a day.
You know the ones: “Record your message after the tone. To send a numeric page, press 5. When you are finished recording, hang up, or for delivery options, press pound.”
Has anyone, anywhere, ever sent a “numeric page”? Considered other “delivery options”? Or thought about holding on forever, unaware that it is possible simply to hang up?
Sounds humorous. But those “instructions” are deadly serious. We pay for them. Cell executives have told David that they exist primarily to use up airtime. He figured that if the 70 million customers of just 1 carrier — Verizon — leave or check messages twice a day, the company could rake in $620 million a year.
David wants to send a message right back. He writes:
We’re going to descend, en masse, on our carriers. Send them a complaint, politely but firmly. Together, we’ll send them a LOT of complaints.
If enough of us make our unhappiness known, I’ll bet they’ll change.
I’ve told each of the four major carriers that they’ll be hearing from us. They’ve told us where to send the messages:
Three of the four carriers are just directing us to their general Web forums. Smells like a cop-out, I know. (As for AT&T: Props to the guy for letting me publish his e-mail address! Hope he knows what he’s in for!)
Yet all four carriers promise that they’ll read and consider our posts. And we have two things going for us.
First, I have a feeling that the volume of complaints will be too big for them to ignore. To that end, I hope you’ll pass these instructions along, blog them, Twitter them, and spread the word. (Gizmodo, Consumerist and others have agreed to help out.)
And I hope you’ll take the time to complain yourself. Do it now, before you forget.
Thanks, David, for trying to help save Americans millions of hours — and dollars. I’ll contact all 4 carriers right now.
As for you “06680” readers: When you have finished reading this post, you may scroll down for more stories. To contact me with comments, tips or photos, click the “Contact Me With Contacts, Tips Or Photos” links at the top or right side of this blog. If you do not wish to read any more posts, you may log out now.
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