Verizon: We Can't Set Up Your Account "Because Your Name Has Shit In It"

Meet Dr. Herman I. Libshitz, a retired radiologist and potential Verizon customer who would like DSL. Sadly, Dr. Libshitz was informed that he could not use his name in his email address or as his user name because it has “shit” in it.

He tried his best to escalate the complaint with Verizon, but had little luck. First, he called the help line:

“We called their help line, and got a wonderful young man in the Philippines who told us:

” ‘We can’t install it because your name has – in it.’ “

I asked the doctor how I was going to print that. He said, “Just say it’s a word contained in Libshitz.”

He had no luck with a supervisor, so he called the billing disputes number and reached another supervisor who promised to investigate and have someone contact him because ” the only person who could help was in Tampa, and that man would have to call India to get them to change the computer code.” No one called back.

Finally, he got a letter informing him that he could not use his name as a username because it didn’t comply with Verizon’s policy.

It took calls from the Philadelphia Inquirer to get Verizon to deal with Dr. Libshitz and his “questionable” name, and that’s what bothers him. He told the Inquirer that what he wants “is for these people at least to stand at attention to explain themselves. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to get to Verizon. . . . You cannot get to them. They are insulated from things like this.” Unless you work for a newspaper, that is.

Here’s Verizon’s official response:

“As a general rule (since 2005) Verizon doesn’t allow questionable language in e-mail addresses, but we can, and do, make exceptions based on reasonable requests. The one from Dr. and Mrs. Libshitz certainly is reasonable and we regret the inconvenience and frustration they’ve been caused.”

Daniel Rubin: When your name gets turned against you [Philadelphia Inquirer] (Thanks, Will!)
(Photo: Maulleigh )

Comments

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  1. Parting says:

    Ha! Just change your name! (Joking, while as a kid, he was probably picked on, too. Sadly Verizon acts as a kindergarten kid:)

  2. mariospants says:

    No biggie, just choose something else. Hell, I have a short but difficult-to-spell last name so I prefer a truncated email address.

  3. outinthedark says:

    I wonder if he has an Xbox Live account..?

  4. quickstrike says:

    Poor guy, that sad thing is probably the lowest leve of phone people probably could have changed this, they were probably to lazy or too smug to do so

  5. savvy999 says:

    U-oh. My 4th grade teacher, Mrs. Hinnershitz, is going to have trouble with Verizon.

    BTW, it was awesome to have a teacher named that. In a singsong voice: Goooood moooorning Missus HinnerSHITZ!!!

  6. IC18 says:

    I had a vietnemese friend in middle school and his last name was Fuk. I wonder if he can get a Verizon account?

  7. kaptainkk says:

    With a name like Smuckers…seriously if I had a name like that I would have changed it a long time ago.

  8. WarOtter - I went to Japan and all I got was this tumor. says:

    They obviously take this issue “very seriously”. Verizon FTW!

  9. Blinden says:

    misleading sensationalistic headline.

    makes it seem like they wouldn’t install an internet connection for him. I’m surprised it got overridden in the end at all, could have easily been software in place that wouldn’t allow anyone to actually create the username.

  10. xphilter says:

    It sounds like it was a poorly written algorithm with no easy override. The programmer should have at least thought there might be a case of someone with a banned word in their name…weird.

  11. KyleOrton says:

    Pick a different username, then inform Verizon after a month that you don’t pay bills with shit on the mailing label. He has to settle for a different email address than he likes, but it’s free so everyone’s happy.

  12. Franklin Comes Alive! says:

    I knew a guy in grad school named Long Wang. I bet Verizon wouldn’t approve of that user name either.

  13. snoop-blog says:

    Lmao at the Headline Meg!

  14. Quatre707 says:

    Funny, when I call Comcast customer service, an American takes the call, in a local call center º.0

  15. Pithlit says:

    @Blinden: Not misleading at all. They can’t set up his account. That’s what the headline says. And it’s a ridiculous reason.

  16. mike says:

    Awesome. Just out of curiosity, does anyone use their ISP e-mail anymore? I have something like 12 free e-mail addresses through verizon, which I’ve never used since I have my own domain and gmail.

    Just wondering if anyone else uses it.

  17. Black Bellamy says:

    Obviously people do, because I get the occasional @comcast.net or @optonline.com or whatever email from someone, but yeah, why would you want to? Gmail, yahoo, and other web-based emails are free and portable and will probably stick around longer than Craptastic ISP Company X.

  18. What -real- company uses a profanity filter in their accounting? Sounds more like Blizzard and their !@#$# filter in World of Warcraft. JEEZE

  19. scoosdad says:

    @Quatre707: What does this have to do with this guy, who called Verizon?

  20. IphtashuFitz says:

    Reminds me of AOL back in the early/mid 90′s when they decided to add a few words to their filters to improve their porn filtering. One of the ones they added was “breast”. They conveniently forgot that they had an entire forum on AOL at the time devoted to survivors of breast cancer. Suddenly people could only post that they were survivors of “hooter cancer” or other colorful phrases. Needless to say AOL backpedaled on that decision very quickly once the publicity started hitting.

  21. CrazyMann says:

    The man should be able to use his name, however something else caught my eye, “If I can’t use my own name, I’m going to stay with my AT&T dial-up,” the doctor said. “The hell with them.” How would he apply for Verizon DSL if he has AT@T Dial up?

  22. MyPetFly says:

    He could change his name to Lipstikz, I suppose.

  23. MikeB says:

    @mariospants: Truncating your name was your choice, he wasn’t given a choice.

  24. Shaftoe says:

    Nicholas Cage on SNL as Asswipe Jones.
    Pronounced Ahhsweepay.

    Regardless that shows a great deal of cultral insensitivity on Verizons part. They need to deal better

  25. hilighter says:

    This happened to me, too…with SBC. B/c my last name has the word “mail” in it.

  26. Blinden says:

    @CrazyMann:

    Because his verizon phone was capable of calling an AT&T number I would assume, you aren’t tied to your phone company for dial-up service.

  27. VikingP77 says:

    Why oh why do people keep stupid names like this? And of course hes a doctor a very smart one! I always hate it when people call in with the name Weiner and and they always say its pronounced … Why-NER. Its like no you don’t fool me…..your last name is a hot dog.

  28. Gari N. Corp says:

    It’s like the time internet filters prevented the residents of top English city sCUNThorpe (the Pittsburgh of North Lincolnshire) from telling people where they lived on emails.

  29. Canino says:

    I hate dealing with companies that have their systems locked down so that the front line person can’t make a simple common sense decision. Just goes to show they don’t trust their own employees and don’t want to pay to hire quality people or train them.

    Of course, if I was paying a bunch of minimum wage call center script readers, I probably wouldn’t trust them either.

  30. womynist says:

    @VikingP77:

    I think it’s super unfair and rude of you to blame someone for “keeping” their family name. To call his name stupid is highly unsensitive of you.

  31. womynist says:

    Oops, I meant INsensitive.

  32. eelmonger says:

    @Pithlit: It’s misleading because the problem was with his desired username not his given name. Verizon would give an account to Ivanna Fuckalot as long as her username was cutiepie09. This is a stupid policy, but if it were me I would have changed my username to something else and just gotten a gmail account to save myself the headache. If he wants to spend his time complaining to the papers about this, that’s his choice, it seems to have worked.

  33. bonzombiekitty says:

    Another clbuttic mistake.

  34. VeiledThreats says:

    Weiner is a German name and it is pronounced WHY-ner. Wiener however is pronounced Wee-ner, like the hot dog or male anatomy.

  35. Puck says:

    I wonder if he said on the phone:

    “THIS IS BULLSHITZ!”

  36. Murph1908 says:

    There’s a company in Indiana called Assman, named after the owner. Doubt they’ll be able to get business DSL.

    BTW, it’s pronounced az’-man

  37. johnfrombrooklyn says:

    Crap. I might have problem with my last name Verizoncansukmyballz.

  38. This is exactly why my friend Richie Cockprick does not have Verizon.

  39. JustThatGuy3 says:

    @eelmonger:

    Unfortunately, Ivanna is too far from the central office, so she can’t get DSL.

  40. superqueen23 says:

    My office is currently working with an office move specialist as we prepare to relocate to a new building. She told us that she just had to take the word “specialist” out of her emails because it is being blocked by some spam filters because it contains the word “cialis”. Sometimes they just don’t think spam filters through all the way.

  41. tc4b says:

    “He told the Inquirer that what he wants “is for these people at least to stand at attention to explain themselves.”

    That perfectly sums up my feeling about 99% of the consumer hassles I read about or deal with. It’s practically poetry.

  42. backbroken says:

    BUT WE MUST PROTECT THE CHILDREN!!! WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!!??

  43. nycaviation says:

    Looks like Ralph Lauren (born Ralph Lifshitz) had the right idea.

  44. timmus says:

    Absolutely ridiculous… there isn’t even a need for a filter like this on new accounts. Obviously if the name is bullshit it’s not going to even make it past the credit checks.

  45. SkokieGuy says:

    And what of the poor teacher from Southpark. She cannot have Verizon DSL?

  46. CaliforniaCajun says:

    What about all the poor Takeshitas of the world? Hell, even Panasonic’s parent company (Matsushita) has, um, that word in it.

  47. Dyscord says:

    Do you HAVE to have your name as an email addy? I’ve never used my name as my username. However, even if his name did have “questionable content” in it, they shouldn’t have refused to install DSL because of it.

  48. IphtashuFitz says:

    @superqueen23: About 10 years ago I was working with a search engine startup and one of the projects I got involved in was their porn filter. It didn’t take us long to figure out that certain phrases should NEVER be used to identify potential porn. One of our first attempts that lasted all of about 30 seconds was ‘XXX’, which we very quickly realized would flag anything involving Super Bowl 30, many pages with copyrights, etc.

  49. mwilliams3609 says:

    I have a co-worker who’s last name is Knipple. Pronounced with a silent K.

  50. iMike says:

    My friend Irfan Butt will probably have to go with Crapcast (second worst company in America (TM)).

  51. ekasbury says:

    “…frustration they’ve been caused.”? WTF. PR writing may be crafty, but going so far as to awkwardly contort the sentence into the passive voice as opposed to simply saying “…frustration Verizon caused,” or even “…frustration this situation caused” is just silly.

  52. rlee says:

    I have used the login SpammersAreScum on various sites. Eventually, I hit one that wouldn’t allow it. Turns out they’re not spam-averse; once I changed the last word the system was happy. Idiots.

  53. SeanOHara says:

    @numberoneasa: “Weiner is a German name and it is pronounced WHY-ner.”

    No, in proper German it’d be “Vy-ner” — “Why-ner” is just as much an American mangling as “Wee-ner”.

  54. Ragman says:

    Welcome to Dick Van Dyke’s internet hell.

    @xphilter: Having worked in software development(for high-end software), I’m not surprised there is no provision for “exceptions”. Our software wouldn’t accept hyphenated or multiple word last names, but the interface designers let any alphanumeric crap through for the phone numbers. Evey time I pulled a phone number in, my code had to filter for any non numeric characters. It went downhill from there.

    Logical thing would be to have the software just pop up a warning on potential vulgar items, and have a person make the call on allowing it.

  55. k6richar says:

    @Franklin Comes Alive!: That reminds me back when typhoon Longwang hit China. Best part was watching some of the news anchors try to keep straight faces.

  56. BeThisWay says:

    A friend of mine was a new employee at a bank. She had a Mr. Lipschitz at her desk when another co-worker called her and said, “Ask him if his lip schitz, what does his as* do?”

    It was a wonderful test of her professionalism.

  57. SpdRacer says:

    @BeThisWay: Thas funny, I wouldn’t have been able to look at him again without busting out laughing.

  58. ceez says:

    why doesnt he open a gmail account and just have dsl without using their email…obviously when he cancels the dsl so will his email.

    just creat dr.libshitz@gmail.com

    and what can you do, their systems are programmed in way that obscene words cant be used, even spam filters probably would pick up those 4 letters

    what if his last name was longdickz? same outcome.

    so stop complaining, blame your parents!

  59. bwcbwc says:

    Isn’t it a little insecure for identity theft for your email address to contain your real name? Not a major issue, but one less step for a crook to go through.

  60. Ghede says:

    That is how Verizon lost the bid for the Jersey Fuckawee Tribe broadband.

    …I can’t be the only one to have heard that joke.

  61. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @CrazyMann: You can get dial-up from anybody with a local number; it doesn’t have to be through your phone company.

  62. Bruce says:

    Verizon:

    Dr. Herman I. Libshitz, we’ve placed an exception for your name in our porn filter.

    OK, now I’ll need your billing address to finish setting up your account.

    Dr. Herman I. Libshitz:
    69 Cumming Strasse
    Fucking, Austria

    [www.theregister.co.uk]
    [www.toytowngermany.com]
    [googlesightseeing.com]

    Verizon: Ummm… Could you hold please!?!

  63. Firethorn says:

    @xphilter: In the military this very problem has been known as the ‘secretary dilema’. Basically, the idea frequently comes up to prevent classified(SECRET) information from being passed over unsecure systems by searching for terms used to mark classified information. The biggest one is ‘SECRET’. The problem? A dumb filter will hit on the word ‘secretary’, among others.

    Of course, I oppose any banning of ‘bad’ words because it simply leads to substitution – there’s still a need for the term the word expresses, so language, if blocked, simply comes up with a new one. Thus the million and a half terms for sexual organs, sexual and excretionary acts, etc…

    I’m reminded of an online cartoon where the main character was quite foul-mouthed, but transported to a universe where it’s not allowed(think of him being in a game universe with a G rating). All the common four letter words come out ‘Bleep’. As of the last cartoon he had his soldiers singing dirty limericks with not a four letter word in them that still manages to express quite graphical acts – and it’s allowed because the filter is *dumb*.

  64. HeartBurnKid, creepy morbid freak says:

    @Ragman: I’m afraid the profanity filters got to Dick Van Dyke as well — he’s now known as Penis Van Lesbian. :p

  65. agency says:

    @eelmonger: @JustThatGuy3: Who’s Ivanna Fuckalot? Is that a real person?

  66. rootdown says:

    I have a similar problem pretty regularly with online services, as my last name is Root, which is a reserved word on Unix-based systems.

  67. alichadhar says:

    there is many other free email address providers. yahoo, gmail, hotmail they have filters also and will not allow any names that gets into the string, so why verizon to blame. use a different user name. dont has to be your first and last name as user name. awsomdoc