In response to consumer backlash, Verizon has decided to make it so alarms on its new phones don’t go off on its phones when you dial 911. This is so if you hide and call 911 when a prowler breaks in, you don’t give them a handy homing signal. [KOMO]

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  1. Jonbo298 says:

    About time. I had to call 911 last week due to car fire in our apartment parking lot, but it just felt odd that it made a tone while connecting to 911.

  2. jamar0303 says:

    So what do they do about all the phones currently out there, in people’s hands, that do this? OTA update, or does it have to be brought into the store to remove this “feature”?

  3. Mr_Human says:

    According to the article, current owners are SOL.

  4. caffienefree says:

    Is there a list of which models feature this behavior?

    I’ve had the occasion to dial 911 once in the past few years, but I can’t remember whether it was done on my older sprint phone, or my current Verizon LG VX3300… either way, there was no tone on that time.

  5. Chols says:

    What does it matter?

  6. forever_knight says:

    @Chols: i believe someone was dialing 911 and an intruder heard the alarm and was alerted to the secret call being placed.

  7. @forever_knight: @Chols: The story was on Consumerist, and in brief:Someone was tresspassing on her property, and she called 911, and on her phone (I have the same model, Casio G’zOne), when you dial 911, it makes a god-awful siren noise through the speaker(not the earpiece), and enters “911 MODE”. Luckily, the tresspassers had left, but in a situation where stealth can mean the difference between a possible armed intruder finding you, or letting him discover an armed cop, this feature is DUMB. Verizon stated that it was a FCC law, but the FCC said, uh…., no. Also, you have to manually exit 911 mode.

    Does anyone know if I can bring my phone in? Maybe even ::kneels and pray::, get the f*cked up Verizon OS GUI removed? I could go into the litany of problems such as mis-spellings, a progress arrow circle that goes in reverse, the inability for a Casio phone to display 24 hour time, etc… I would rather have the standard OS.

  8. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    A loud beacon type alarm would be good, if you could turn it on and off. Perhaps where the light on the phone also acts as a strobe. Granted, that would drain the battery pretty quickly, but it would be good if someone fell in a dark ditch or something.

  9. jamar0303 says:

    @Git Em SteveDave: Casio phones have no standard OS. Every phone they’ve made has a custom OS on it tailored to the carrier. The au (Japanese CDMA carrier) OS is much better than its Verizon counterpart, but I don’t know if it’s possible to install that.

  10. @AlteredBeast: The G’zOne’s flash(I think it’s a luxeon LED, very bright) doubles as a flashlight which has it’s own key. But if you think about it, if they knew you were in a ditch, and you could call out w/ the phone, they could have Verizon “Pulse” your phone which makes the ringer keep on ringing, which would make you easy to find. The standard flash led on normal phones is very weak, and doesn’t carry far. Also, the siren alarm only sounds when you go into 911 MODE(it actually displays that on it’s screen).

  11. @jamar0303: This is the one reason I hate Verizon. So their tech people don’t have to think, they wipe every OS off their phones, and put the same one on them all. I LOVED my Moto E815. The OS was great. If they really wanted to do something to the phones to make them better for emergencies, how about making speed dial 9 for 911? If you don’t program 9 for 911, you literally have to dial 911, then send. Bad for emergencies.

  12. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    This took a while though, didn’t it? The Consumerist article on this was posted 11/25/2007.

    Or is that quick in corporate time?

  13. @Rectilinear Propagation: About Two months. Given all of the holidays, it would take awhile to get full board meetings to discuss/decide, to run it by the lawyers, consult the FCC to make sure they were still within the law, consult the Engineers to see what it would take to change the OS, lawyers again to see if the cost would be worth it(assuming 1 person sues due to direct cause of this tone getting them hurt), etc…. Also, ALL of those other people would be on holiday too, so I might actually say it was pretty quick.

  14. nursetim says:

    @caffienefree:
    I have a Samsung Juke with Verizon, and I called 911 about a month ago, and it didn’t make any alarms, although I was a little preoccupied while making the call (it was about a wrong way driver on the highway).

  15. richtaur says:

    This reminds me of that Simpsons episode where Bart has a crazy Batman-like utility belt and hits the “Help” button — and then the thing calls out for help, letting the bullies know where he is.

    Boy I’m nerdy.

  16. rustyni says:

    I have the LG VX9400, and yep the one time I’ve had to dial 911 (witnessed a car accident where the lady hit her head on the dashboard and blacked out) there was indeed, that horrid siren that made my ears want to bleed. : /

    Glad they’re fixing it though, even if it won’t apply to me.

  17. Chols says:

    @forever_knight:

    It makes sense now. That’s what I get for not reading thru comments before posting :(

    If you were holed up in a closet, you could just dial it, and not talk, and they would track you anyway.

  18. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    trying to think, and yes, i did call 911 on my phone (vx 8300 purchased in march of 07)
    battery was low at the time, but no siren.
    annoying death beeps, but no siren.

  19. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    @Gstein: actually, upon further thought, i’ve called 911 on at least one other occasion, and it definitely did NOT set off any type of alarm, although my old SprintPCS phone (4-5 years ago) did a loud chirpy jingle when calling 911