Why I hate Verizon (and EarthLink too)...
Towards the end of 2006, Verizon was tearing up the sidewalks in my neighborhood, installing Fiber Optics. Cool I thought, a faster Internet connection and an alternative to cable TV. I was excited to be able to switch from DSL and improve the performance of my web server.
In early January 2007 I got a call from Verizon asking if I wanted to order their FIOS Internet service. I very explicitly asked if I would be able to run a web server from home. The salesperson checked with someone and came back with the question: “Do I need a static IP address?” I’ve been running just fine with a dynamic IP address and DSL for many years, so I responded that, no; I did not require a static IP address. Her response was that I would be able to run a web server with no problem. We set the date for the installation for January 16, 2007. Oh yeah, and the cost would be $39.99 per month, the same price I was currently paying for DSL.
On the installation date, despite a snowstorm, two technicians arrived around noon to switch my house from copper to fiber. After about three hours they completed the installation, including a new router designed to work with their service. I checked with one of the technicians to ask if I could configure the router for port forwarding so I could run my web server. He responded that it was easy, and I shouldn’t have any problem. They left once they confirmed that I had internet connectivity.
I immediately set upon attempting to configure the router to properly forward requests for www.StormWatcher.info to my web server. It appeared to be straightforward, but several hours later, I still could not get it to work properly. Finally I gave up and called Verizon’s tech support. I spoke to someone there who had never configured the router to work with a web server, but claimed that it seemed like I had done everything correctly. He needed to check with a supervisor and get back to me.
Approximately 24 hours later he got back to me and informed me that Verizon blocks port 80 traffic before it ever gets to my router, that’s why it wasn’t working. I had already begun to suspect this, but here it was being confirmed for the first time by someone from Verizon. Hs said I would need to switch from residential to business class to get it working. Of course they were closed for the day, so I had to wait until the next day to talk to them.
On January 18, I spoke to someone who deals with business customers, and was informed, that Verizon blocks port 80 on all dynamic IP addresses. In order to allow traffic on port 80, I would need to purchase a static IP address, and that would cost $99 per month. You can pretty much guess what my response was to that.
So now I fired off a frustrated email to customer service, as well as tried to get someone on the phone to either remedy the situation or remove the FIOS service and put me back on copper (and DSL) as soon as possible.
Over the next couple of weeks I spoke to various people at Verizon. Some of the customer service reps had no idea that running a web server was not allowed, and kept insisting that they could not help me, I needed to talk to technical support. Of course each time I talked to them, I was getting the response that I could not run a web server without purchasing a static IP address.
During this period I figured out a partial solution to get around their insane policy of blocking port 80. I configured my web server to look for requests on port 8000, and configured a DNS forward to forward all requests for www.StormWatcher.Info to instead go to StormWatcher.info:8000. This worked for many people, but I came to discover that some businesses block port 8000. Besides this was a kludge that I did not want to continue indefinitely. But at least I was up and partially running.
Finally I got a hold of someone who told me that they would work on getting everything uninstalled, but it needed to get a VP’s signature. A couple of weeks later, she called back and left a message that a crew would be out to switch me back to copper line on Feb 7 between 8:30 AM and noon. This call came during the day on Feb 5.
Also on Feb 5, when I got home and heard the message, I also discovered that they had turned off my FIOS service. My phone still worked, but I no longer had any Internet connectivity whatsoever. My frustration with Verizon continued to grow. Now I can’t get emails, work from home, or do anything productive. Sure enough, when I called tech support that evening I was told that my service had been disconnected and I would need to call them back in the morning if I wanted it reconnected. Why they couldn’t wait until they switched me back to copper is beyond me. They obviously left my phone service working, they could have left the FIOS service running as well. Nowadays that’s almost as critical to some people as phone service. I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to be without any Internet connectivity for a couple of days. Arrgh!!!!
Finally, Feb 7 rolls around, and I uninstall their router and switch back to my original router that I had used with DSL. And I begin to wait. And wait. And wait some more. At 12:30 I called to find out what the story was (remember I was told between 8:30 and noon). After checking, I was told they were a little behind, but I was still on for today, they should be here later, and they would call first.
I also inquired as to whether my DSL would be working when I was switched back to copper. No, it probably wouldn’t. I would need to call EarthLink (since that’s who my ISP is), and they would then need to get in touch with Verizon to turn the DSL back on. Bear in mind, I never canceled the DSL. I was only going to cancel it once everything was working with FIOS, and obviously that never happened.
At 3:30 PM, I still hadn’t heard anything, so I called yet again. My contact (Lisa) at Verizon needed to check on it, and she was going to get back to me. I still hadn’t heard anything by 4:15, so I placed yet another call, and got put in touch with Lisa’s supervisor (Julie). She said she and Lisa were currently working on my account, and that they had been told there was some “problem” with my service order, and that’s why they hadn’t come out today. At this point they were not going to come out today, and she and Lisa were working with another department to try to get my FIOS service turned back on. I give them credit here for at least trying to do something to temporarily appease me. Julie called back a few minutes later to tell me that they would most likely have my service turned back on within 1-2 hours.
Sure enough, my service was restored later that evening. Although I still had one more surprise waiting for me. I had configured Outlook to work with Verizon’s outgoing email server using the username and password they had provided. When my service got disconnected and reconnected, they assigned me a new username. Of course nobody told me this, so it took another ten minute call to tech support to get that straightened out.
So here it is, Saturday, Feb 10th. I’m still waiting for them to switch me back to copper so I can run this site on port 80 instead of port 8000. I’ll finish this diatribe as my saga continues over the next few days (or weeks).
Finally, on Feb 23, I spoke with Julie and she said they were tentatively scheduled to come out on Tuesday February 27. She was going to call me on Monday, February 26th to confirm. She just needed to figure out how to change a code with my account. Well, apparently she figured it out. And apparently that code automatically disconnects my FIOS Internet service, so around 2:30 PM on Feb 23 I once again lost all Internet connectivity. I tried calling her back, but it was too late, she had left for the day and the weekend. Damn, here we go again, with a few more days with no Internet connectivity. So much for working from home the remainder of the day.
On Monday, Feb 26, I preemptively called her to explain that I no longer had any Internet connectivity, and to try to confirm that a crew would be out on Tuesday. She was pretty sure they would be out, and she once again apologized for the situation.
On Feb 27, I woke up and began anxiously awaiting Verizon to show up. This was now my 3rd day of missed work waiting for them. A little before 9 AM, I went to make a phone call. Uh oh, no dial tone! So now I have no Internet service AND no telephone service. I can’t even call them to find out what’s going on! And to add insult to injury, I am the last American left without a cell phone, so I really have no method of communication. Great! They better get here soon. I have no idea what time it was disconnected, the last time I used the phone was about 9 PM on the 26th.
It seems to me that disconnecting someone’s phone service is probably illegal, and at a minimum a safety hazard. I have a relative who has a very serious medical condition, and as of now I have no way of getting in touch with them, nor do they have any way of getting in touch with me. This situation has just continued to get worse over the past month and a half.
Finally, right around noon, a technician from Verizon arrived. He was here five minutes. I waited over six weeks for someone to come out here for five minutes. You can be sure if I was installing FIOS instead of uninstalling FIOS they would have been here a lot sooner than six weeks. He plugged in my copper junction box, and asked me to check my phone. Sure enough, I had a dial tone, so he drove off. I should have known better. I went to make a call, and instead of connecting with the person I intended to call, I was automatically routed to Verizon. My service on the number was not yet “Activated”. I spoke with one person, who transferred me to someone else in another department to try and help me. He assured me that they would have it resolved by 6 PM. Yet another wasted day dealing with Verizon and their incompetence.
At this point what really struck me was how streamlined the process was switching from copper to FIOS, and how difficult they made it for me switching back The day they switched me from copper to FIOS I had phones service the whole time, with the possible exception of a couple of minutes. Clearly they have the ability to ensure the phone service is maintained during the transition. But for transitioning back, they either don’t care or don’t want to take the efforts to maintain my phone service. Astounding!
Around 2:30 PM someone else showed up from Verizon. He did some testing and realized he needed to do some more testing down the block. He returned and told me we had to wait for them to switch the phone number back to my correct phone number. When I asked him what he meant, he told me the number assigned to my junction box was not my phone number. I cannot begin to imagine how or why they assigned a different number to my house; I’ve lived here 12 years and have always had the same phone number. So we waited for a while. And waited some more. Finally, around 3:45 PM, my phone service was re-enabled. Still no DSL, but at least we’re finally making progress.
Now the DSL battle begins anew. I tried calling EarthLink and tried explaining the situation, but that’s like trying to teach the Theory of Relativity to a kindergartner. So on Friday, March 2, I was able to set up a conference call with EarthLink and Verizon on the phone. After over two hours and several different EarthLink technicians, they finally generated a ticket that would get forwarded to Verizon. At last – perhaps this will finally get resolved.
No such luck. After being away for the a day and a half, I returned home on Sunday (March 4 for those keeping track) to find a message from EarthLink asking me to call them. I did and got a message saying to try back in 8 hours, my ticket was still being worked on. I called back Monday morning (March 5), and still got the same recording.
So I went to work, called when I got home on Monday afternoon, and the message still said to call back in eight hours. I opted to speak to someone at that point. After another long stint on the phone with them it came down to this. They had to put in an order with Verizon to cancel my DSL, and once that was complete they would have to put in another order to re-establish my DSL service. Each of those could take up to five business days. So I was being told I would probably e down another two weeks. Incredible.
I hung up with EarthLink and put a call in to Comcast. They will allow me to run a low volume web server, and could have me up and running that evening. I said “sign me up”. I hung up with Comcast around 4:15, drove to their local office in rush-hour traffic, and had the service up and running by 6:45 that same day.
I’m no fan of Comcast and their ever-rising cable bills, but I’ll give them credit here for signing up a new customer and activating the installation immediately. Far superior to EarthLink and Verizon. Plus, the introductory rate will be cheaper than I was paying for DSL or FIOS.
Thank goodness the nightmare is over. And I urge everyone to avoid Verizon’s FIOS service, especially if you want to run a web server. They made my life a living hell for about seven weeks.