Verizon Breaks Your Router With An Unrequested Firmware Update, But Won't Replace It Because It's Out Of Warranty

Brielle is angry at Verizon for ruining her router. What’s worse is that they won’t do anything to fix the problem they created.

They acknowledge the router got an upgraded firmware image automatically (forget the fact I had explicitly disabled that feature for this very reason), but I’m shit out of luck. Even though the fact my formerly perfectly working 6100 is now bricked because of something Verizon did without my approval or knowledge, they will not provide me with a new one for free because the router is out of warranty.

Brielle, try this Verizon contact info to reach someone who can resolve your issue.

Update: Brielle has added the following to her post on her own site, in response to people suggesting she flash the router:

There is no way to flash the router at this point. I’ve not been able to find an actual image file of the firmware, just a tool in .exe, which does not work right cause it really stupidly assumes anything in 10/8 is 255.0.0.0. My home network is 10.14.1.0/255.255.255.0. Tool can’t find router, so no way to force an old firmware on to it.

“Verizon is a bunch of assholes” [Brielle's Ramblings] (Thanks to Mickey!)
(Photo: *nomad*)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Branan says:

    The EULA with the router’s firmware probably gives them authorization to push upgrades even if you say to disable them. If it does than you really are SOL, unless someone higher-up in Verizon takes pity on you.

    If it doesn’t have such a clause, then they probably violated Federal law when they pushed that update to you – they basically hacked your router.

    • silver-bolt says:

      @Branan: The commercial (Non verizon branded) router should not have any allowance for verizon to fuck it up.

      • JoshReflek says:

        @silver-bolt: Since the user can disable the auto-update feature, forcing the update implys that verizon condones the content, making them responsible regardless as to the current warranty obligations.

        Sounds like small claims court.

    • MikeWas says:

      @Branan: My loathing for Verizon gets more fuel from this post. Warranty or not, disclaimer or not, if the user has firmware updates disabled, you’re right about this effectively being an unauthorized hack. With recent changes to the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, that may subject Verizon to a class action in the near future.

      Even without the CFAA,I’m a pretty big fan of the “you break it, you bought it” theory of router replacement in this case. Get Legal on the phone, stat.

  2. Branan says:

    @Branan: This assumes, of course, that you actually bought the router from them, and that it’s not some sort of lease or rental sort of deal. If it was a lease or a rental they should have just replaced it, though.

  3. 2719 says:

    Every ISP provider pushes firmware updates whenever they want to. Customers don’t get to say anything about it.

    • corsec67 says:

      @2719: Which is a good reason to use a router/modem that isn’t provided by the ISP.

      There is no way Qwest is going to flash my TrendNet DSL modem.

    • @2719: Very true as long as it’s their equipment … if she’s paid for it (which it sounds like) that makes it her equipment in which case they are very much in the wrong.

      If she’s leasing it I don’t think Warranty comes into it.

      Good Luch

    • smokinfoo says:

      Small claims court is going to run you more in fees then the router costs. You will undoubtedly win, but also take into consideration your time and what it is worth to you.

      If you don’t value your time and want to do what is “right” go for small claims.

      Otherwise do yourself a favor, quit wasting your time and just go buy another one. I suggest the linksys wrt54g because its rather easy to hack dd-wrt(opensource firmware) onto it. If you can get a v6.0 that is best, although only v8.1 and v8.2 work. I personally have an v8.2.

      Check this page for supported routers:
      [www.dd-wrt.com]

      • Difdi says:

        @smokinfoo:

        Small claims court is going to run you more in fees then the router costs. You will undoubtedly win, but also take into consideration your time and what it is worth to you.

        Depends on what job you do and what the filing costs are where you live. Where I live, given what I make an hour, a small claims court case is probably cheaper than what it would cost to replace the sort of router I use. But someone who makes twice what I do an hour might be better off just buying a new one, all things considered. Still, there is the principle of the thing — Bad behavior should not be overlooked, it should carry some sort of penalty.

      • doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

        @smokinfoo: I have the WRT54G V8, running dd-wrt (V24-SP1) fine. Just follow the fairly simple instructions.

      • lordargent says:

        @smokinfoo: smokinfoo I suggest the linksys wrt54g because its rather easy to hack

        I think you mean the WRT54GL,

        I have two WRT54GLs, and one WRT54G, and the G was a pain in the butt to hack and you can’t fit a full dd-wrt image on it.

        /The two GLs tool less than 10 minutes each.

        /The G, took a couple of hours of troubleshooting and screwing around with TFTP

        • FLEB says:

          @lordargent: From what I recall, the GL was a rename of the original G, after Linksys changed the “G”-labelled router to one based on a different firmware.

          • lordargent says:

            @FLEB:

            Yeah, the WRT54GL is basically a WRT56G version 4.

            /subsequent versions of the WRT54G had less flash memory and RAM.

            /the specs of the whole router line is listed on wikipedia (along with serial number prefixes that indicate what version something is).

            [en.wikipedia.org]

      • consumerd says:

        @smokinfoo:

        Small claims court is going to run you more in fees then the router costs. You will undoubtedly win, but also take into consideration your time and what it is worth to you.

        If you don’t value your time and want to do what is “right” go for small claims.

        Otherwise do yourself a favor, quit wasting your time and just go buy another one. I suggest the linksys wrt54g because its rather easy to hack dd-wrt(opensource firmware) onto it. If you can get a v6.0 that is best, although only v8.1 and v8.2 work. I personally have an v8.2.

        Agreed, I don’t buy provider routers. True the troubleshooting with my router is my responsiblity but if it truly is a DSL/line problem I will be able to prove that with the 1 pc and 1 dsl modem method just as easy as I could with a network. Point is if you are sure it’s a provider problem, be sure your equipment is not causing the problem first before engaging tech support. This will save you time, and them headache.

  4. Hands says:

    Something doesn’t make sense here. If she purchased it and they bricked it, they need to replace it. If she leases it, they need to honor the lease by replacing it with working equipment. What am I missing?

    • @Hands: I think we’re dealing with an inept CS rep here.

      • TheFuzz53 says:

        @TakingItSeriously:

        From my experiences, that is every singel CS rep at Verizon.

        I called them the other day to complain about my Fios bill they screwed up and the first person I talked to try to sell me TV and phone service before even asking what I was calling about. Needless to say, she ended up being less than uphelpful.

    • VermilionSparrow says:

      @Hands: I used to work in Verizon DSL tech support, and the warranty on DSL modem/routers (which are always purchased, never leased) is 90 days. Outside of that, you can’t get a new one for free for any reason except maybe if you threaten to cancel and get bumped to the retention department.

      • MikeWas says:

        @VermilionSparrow: This isn’t a warranty issue,at least not for the original router. This MAY be a warranty issue if the firmware upgrade has an independent warranty, but I doubt it.

        The warranty issue is just a red herring – the real issue here is that Verizon destroyed a working router by pushing an unauthorized software upgrade. If your car is out of warranty, and the mechanic pours sugar in your gas tank, he’s buying you a new car, or at least a new engine. Why Verizon thinks it’s exempt from basic principles of law is beyond me.

  5. Brielle says:

    Thanks for the info so far. The router was part of my Verizon DSL service back in 2006. IIRC, I had to pay for that router due to the fact I opted for a monthly rather then yearly plan, it wasn’t included. There is no way it was a lease or rental.

    When I reactivated my service in the very beginning of 2007 with a year plan, we ended up using my existing equipment from 3 months earlier (I wonder if the plan included a modem and I just didn’t pay attention and make sure I got it…)

    Anyways, normally, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal if the router broke – it’s a piece of equipment I can replace given time. It’s the fact _I_ didn’t break it, and it was done without my knowledge or consent, makes me livid.

    3 years ago Verizon pulled the same crap with my parents and their Westell 327w. They shipped them a revision that had known issues with the built in firewall that would crash the router every 12 or so hours. Once again, Verizon refused to replace it with a non-faulty revision, and I ended up having to shell out $75 for a Linksys router to work around the issue.

    I see a distinct pattern here.

    • Dyscord says:

      @Brielle: The way I see it, if they provided the router and then they broke it, they should replace it regardless. It wasn’t your fault in the first place.

      However, I never heard of buying your router from them. Of course, I never did a month by month plan. How much do they charge for it? I know you can get a decent router for about $50. Given the choice, I’d bring my own router. Have you ever tried searching for drivers on Verizon’s site? Terrible.

      • Brielle says:

        @Dyscord: All you have to do is call to their support, say you’d like to buy a router or modem, etc and the tech will tell you they are going to transfer you to ‘billing’.

        Tis exactly what they tried to do to me today.

        • Brielle says:

          Back when I first got my dry loop DSL, I got the feeling while setting up the service that they weren’t going to just let me ‘get away’ with getting the lowest level of service (768/128) and minimum committment without getting me to pay in the end. Instead of the squeezing every month, they just did it right away.

          It wasn’t a quick thing either – I almost got the feeling they were stalling on purpose during the install. The install date came, went on multiple occasions, with ever surmounting excuses as to why the DSL hadn’t been installed. They’d tell me the DSL is live, I’d get no signal. They’d insist I run a new wire from the panel on the side of the house cause the internal wiring is bad, so I did. Still no luck. I believe they even tried to start billing me before the thing even worked.

          Several tech visits, iirc, and finally they discovered the pairs were disconnected at some point along the path. Boom, DSL started to work.

          In a way, I wish I had never even gotten DSL in the first place, but there kinda wasn’t much of a choice.

          • boss_lady says:

            @Brielle: I also worked for Verizon DSL tech support (but only did businesses). I used to actually laugh when listening to billing calls with the customer going on about how ‘we’ are billing them for whatever, etc. etc. Billing cycles with most big business are totally automated. Don’t take it like someone down at Verizon knew your service wasn’t working and decided to send you a bill that day- in reality, even billing reps have no way to change billing cycles.

            Also, that Westell 6100 is yours. You bought it from Verizon- they don’t lease anything. In the terms of service, which all customers agree to at the start of service, you confirmed that Technical Support is in no way responsible for anything that may happen while you’re on the phone with them. It’s true.

    • VermilionSparrow says:

      @Brielle: I used to work in Verizon DSL tech support, and even if you’d gotten the yearly plan and your modem/router was “free”, it still would have been considered “purchased”. Verizon doesn’t lease any DSL equipment.

      Pretty much your only chance at getting a new router for free is the retention department.

  6. LorraineEileithyia says:

    Nothing new about companies doing this. Sony is doing this to a lot of PS3 owners right now. A friend of mine has an older PS3 that had a firmware update pushed on to it (version 2.42). There’s a 33 page forum post on their site about and they’re charging people $150 to repair the systems they broke with their own update.

    • Brielle says:

      @LorraineEileithyia: Ew. I’m so glad my Cisco can’t auto update it’s firmware.

    • krztov says:

      @LorraineEileithyia: uh this is false, no firmware gets pushed to PS3, the closest to it is that to play games online it requires you to update firmware, but in no way is it pushed.

      • Corporate_guy says:

        @krztov: So what if the firmware wasn’t pushed. It was still an official firmware by sony needed to play newer games online. Whether the user voluntarily took the update or it was pushed is irrelevant. Some electronic devices tell you that you may risk bricking the device with an update and for you to only update if you have problems. This is not the case with the ps3. You have to take the updates to keep functionality.

    • Raekwon says:

      @LorraineEileithyia:

      I’ve owned a PS3 since launch and never once have they forced me to update or pushed one without my knowledge.

    • Lemon Goo says:

      @LorraineEileithyia: Is your friend quite positive about the ‘pushing’ of the firmware update? Many PS3 system updates cannot be initiated unless the user selects “System Update” from the XMB menus. And you can always answer no when prompted to install an upgrade at that moment in time.

  7. Chongo says:

    I’m not a networking techie but I was always interested in this post from lifehacker:

    [lifehacker.com]

    its basically instructions on how to supercharge your router with open source firmware. Maybe it can bring this router back from the dead?

    • Brielle says:

      @Chongo: Nope. I’m quite familiar, I worked with the WRT54GS series and done quite a bit of playing with the DD-WRT firmware. Linux is what I do. :)

      Unfortunately, the 6100 series is Vxworks IIRC, and its too weak iirc to be able to run Linux.

      I normally run these things either in bridged mode with a separate router behind it, or use a Cisco 857, but in this case, I’m about to move across country, and all of my equipment is headed there and not at the old apartment.

      They picked perhaps the worst time to pull this on me.

    • HalOfBorg says:

      @Chongo: I am betting that the ‘router’ in question is the DSL modem that Verizon supplied. Mine is the Westell 6100. It is also a single port router.

      • 2719 says:

        @HalOfBorg:

        It’s a gateway. Modems and gateways don’t have firmware downloads available to the public. Routers do.

        • mzs says:

          @2719: Sure they do. I have a Siemens DSL modem and have pulled the fw from their support site in the past. The original fw would only do PPPoE for a few hours before crapping-out.

    • krztov says:

      @Chongo: @Front_Towards_Enemy: /me agrees.

      at least just find out what the factory defaults are for the router then hardcode the IP on your pc so your default gateway and all that is good to go. In about 10 years of dealing with this stuff, I’ve actually never had something fully brick, just stop handing out IPs (even if dhcp was on). then again, verizon is the company that told my grandmother that she was having a pc issue when the sync light was flashing on her dsl modem.. so who knows :)

  8. stevejust says:

    File a claim in small claims court against them for bricking the router. I guarantee you will get an appropriate response, probably more quickly that way than any other way.

    I’ve learned that when something like this happens, the first thing I do is send a demand letter telling them I am about to sue them and why — which usually results in executive complaint services calling me, and I never have to actually file a claim.

    • @stevejust: Steve is absolutely right, I’ve done this several times. Obviously you don’t even need a lawyer, and they sit right up and dance to your tune or you sue them and collect damages for wasted time and money.

      • proskills says:

        @e-friend: I can understand sending a letter saying that you’re going to sue, but actually going out to court over a router, seriously? It sounds like this person in a linux software specialist, being a programmer myself and knowing nothing personally about law; I would just be wasting my time. Good linux people can easily break $100,000 / year, which breaks down to about $45 / hour. You spend 5 hours working on this, you’ve already wasted $225 over something you can get for $50.

        • Difdi says:

          @proskills:

          It really depends on the value of the router, what you make an hour, filing costs for small claims, and how far you’ll go for principle.

          If my ISP bricked my router, I’d be out enough money that replacing it out of pocket would cost me about twice what filing costs and my hourly wage to prepare the case would cost, so yeah, suing in small claims would make sense.

          My Father, in the same boat, would be better off buying a new router and forgetting the matter.

          I have an Uncle who would be better off just forgetting a dozen bricked routers that cost what mine does.

          But I also have a friend who makes far less than I do. As close to the edge as his monthly budget runs, he’d be without internet for a couple weeks over a $50 router (which is a good bit less than mine). He might even be unable to sue in small claims right away.

        • Niann says:

          @proskills:

          Sometimes it is about the principal. Could I replace a router that someone else bricked? Sure thing, no problem. However, I would rather spend 10 hours in prep (it would never take me this long just an example) and a day in court, than allow a big company to “screw the little guy”.

          Cheers!
          -Niann

  9. HalOfBorg says:

    Can it be restored to factory setting? Hold down the reset button, (back of the 6100 inside a little hole), for 20 seconds and it SHOULD go back to factory.

    Mine did, and trying to get online with it 2 or 3 times made it call home and get the setup utility.

    Of course if ‘bricked’ means it won’t even power up enough for that….. it’s like trying to flash a BIOS on a mobo that won’t POST. :(

  10. Brielle, I have had strange problems with the 6100 as well, which I solved after much trial and error.

    Are you getting internet but it acts like it can’t find any internet addresses? That is, you have a solid PPP connection but no internet access?

  11. oldgraygeek says:

    Verizon’s FIOS routers & DSL ‘modems’ fail all the time, which makes them pretty much as reliable as all the other $40 consumer routers on the market.
    The extra-special goodness a customer gets with Verizon, however, usually goes like this:
    Customer: “I don’t have Internet.”
    Verizon: “Everything is just fine on our end, so it must be your PC.”
    Customer calls me (or one of my competitors)… I come down there and demonstrate that the router is dead (using my laptop as a known-good PC)… I collect $90, and the customer gets to call Verizon again.

  12. Parting says:

    Sorry, but can’t you re-flash it yourself? There is a lot of software online… Maybe try checking lifehacker (it helped my friend to find info on reflashing his router).

    Good luck.

  13. Ubermunch says:

    This is why I’m still on my Bell Atlantic DSL router from… get this… October 2000. Yep… October 2000. But it works consistently and cannot be screwed by the updates they send out.

  14. Two things to her:
    1) EECB
    2) Be happy you don’t have Concast (sic).

  15. smint says:

    It’s your own damn fault for actually a., going with DSL at all, and b., choosing Verizon out of everything. I mean really, what praises have you heard of that particular part of the business…

    • Stavro Mueller says:

      @smint: Ok, hypothetical situation:
      You live in an area with two high-speed ISPs, Comcast, and Verizon. Based on everything you’ve read here on Consumerist (in addition to outside experiences, opinions, and reports), who do you go with? The company that outright blocks legal downloading, caps bandwidth, and was ranked #2 in the Worst Company in America contest, or do you go with a slower connection (depending on proximity to local switchboard), from a company who’s main complaints stem from installation issues, not secret policy changes or usage restrictions.

      Who do you choose? Or do you say ‘f-em’ to both, and live in the technological stone age until another ISP comes along?

      I’m not saying that Verizon is perfect, and I’m not saying that installation issues are any less important than secret policy changes. I’m looking at it as a ‘lesser of two evils’ situation, as opposed to your ‘I don’t like DSL so I’m going to curse at you for making an informed decision’ approach.

    • RStewie says:

      @smint: Don’t judge those of us that live in a monopoly. I can ONLY get my DSL through AT&T, and even THAT was difficult.

  16. MrFreshy says:

    i understand the frustration with what happened, but come on, it is a $30 modem. i can probably send you one if you need it.

  17. Chairman-Meow says:

    >>My home network is 10.14.1.0/255.255.255.0. Tool can’t find router, so no way to force an old firmware on to it.<<

    I’m guess that you are have maybe, what ? 2-3 PCs on your network. So why are you using an a class A address that can support 16,777,214 PC’s ? Even though you subnetted it to a class C (255.255.255.0), The software is looking at the first octet (10.x.x.x) and is assuming you are on a class A network which is reason why its bombing.

    Change your PC’s netmask from 255.255.255.0 to 255.0.0.0, direct connect to the router and then the software will successfully load the good image.

  18. krztov says:

    @krztov: wow, comment system totally replied to a different entry than i clicked.

  19. krztov says:

    @Front_Towards_Enemy: /me agrees.

    at least just find out what the factory defaults are for the router then hardcode the IP on your pc so your default gateway and all that is good to go. In about 10 years of dealing with this stuff, I’ve actually never had something fully brick, just stop handing out IPs (even if dhcp was on). then again, verizon is the company that told my grandmother that she was having a pc issue when the sync light was flashing on her dsl modem.. so who knows :)

  20. jimv2000 says:

    Unplug the router, THEN hold the reset button in for 30 seconds. Then plug it back in.

  21. mariospants says:

    Can’t you just buy a new one for $50 and be done with it? Does it have to be “Verizon-authorized”?

  22. Doctor Cathattan says:

    I have Verizon FIOs, they gave me an ActionTec MI424WR WiFi router for my house. I could be wrong but I think the router does have to be a particular make/model. This is so that Verizon can remotely configure the router if need be. One time I was playing around with the gateway settings and the next day my router reconfigured itself to back it’s original settings, that’s how I knew Verizon had remote access to my router. Depending on your situation this is both good & bad.

    Interestingly though I was able to upgrade my router firmware manually with an image I found on the ‘Net. Verizon didn’t seem to mind.

  23. Firesoul1 says:

    Re-setting the modem works.
    no wonder the button is there
    when stupid things happen.

  24. VermilionSparrow says:

    Um, the Westell 6100 isn’t really a router at all. It’s got one ethernet port and one USB port, and they’re not meant to be used at the same time. It has a NAT firewall but that’s it.

    If your IP address is 10.14.1.0/255.255.255.0, then you either have an actual router connected to it (in which case you can’t flash the firmware unless you connect directly to the 6100), or you’ve changed the default settings, because the factory default is 192.168.1.1/255.255.255.0.

    (Yes, I was that one competent Verizon tech support agent that had an American accent that, if you were lucky, you actually got to speak to once. And I don’t work there anymore.)