Day 5 Of Our Verizon Data Outage With No Explanation In Sight

Micah tells Consumerist that he and his wife just signed a new Verizon contract and bought new smartphones–a Droid X and a Droid Incredible. They’re both heavy smartphone users, but weren’t too worried about a recent data outage… until it stretched on for four days. Verizon can’t explain what suddenly went wrong, or fix the problem. This is sort of the opposite of the provider’s current “Rule the Air” ad campaign.

He writes:

I’m a Verizon customer and I need help. I tried calling the number you have listed for Monica Harper on your site, but no matter what number I call from, all I get is a recording saying that I can’t call the number from my area. Do you guys have any other contact info?

The situation (in a short form, if you can believe it) is this:

On September 4th, at approximately 2:00 PM (EST) the 3G/1X data signal in my area died. I was listening to Pandora on my phone all morning and it suddenly cut out. I checked my wife’s phone (she has an Incredible, I have a Droid X) and hers was the same; no data signal, network errors when we tried loading webpages. I quickly called customer service and, after they had me troubleshoot the phones to make sure it wasn’t a hardware problem, said that it must be a data outage and filed a ticket. I called back a few hours later to get an update and was told that, yes, there was a 1X data outage but that it had been quickly fixed and I should see no problems. I explained to them that both the phones still had problems, and after an hour on the phone, an internal tech support ticket was filed to investigate the issue.

On the 5th and 6th I called back and found out from techs that the issue had been escalated to a field unit who had to come out to my general location and perform a signal test to find the problem, along with the fact that another person had called in from my area reporting the same issue, so it’s not just me. On the morning of the 6th, I spent 2 hours in my car roaming my area (we live 3 miles north of a major city in VA) to find out where the signal was good and bad, and concluded that if I went north or south of our location by 3-5 miles, the data returned and was fine, so it was localized to our area. I gave this information to the techs to help them.

Okay, now that you have the background, to the problem…

I was assured on the 4th that, despite it being a holiday, they would have the problem fixed within 24-48 hours. It’s obviously been longer than that, and since then, I’ve been treated to an experience where the tech on the phone “couldn’t find” my ticket in the system for 15 minutes, then when I pressed them to explain how the ticket could have gotten “lost” when I called in yesterday and got information from it, they miraculously found it. I’ve also been given the same “24-48” hour window and assured (again) that I would receive a call within 24-48 hours of today (as I was promised back on the 4th) about the issue.

This is a pretty major problem since my wife and I rely on our phones as second computers, essentially, and use our data packages all the time. Up until 2:00 on the 4th, we’ve had a strong 3G signal (we’re right in the middle of a bunch of towers, as I found out from a tech) even from our basement, and the fact that it affects both of our phones in the same manner and another person is reporting the issue and moving 3 miles south fixes the problem tells me that it’s a network issue.

All I want is a definitive answer on what’s going on. Nobody can tell me when the problem will be fixed (I asked a tech today if it would be a day, week or month and she replied “oh it won’t be a month but it can take some time due to issues”) or what’s going on other than “the ticket is open and you’ll be called soon.” I’ve heard that line way too many times in my life to believe it, and I’ve gotten the “24-48” hour line enough times that I’m calling B.S. on it.

Please help, Consumerist. I just signed a 2-year contract (after being a month-to-month customer of Verizon’s for years) and spent a lot of money on new phones for my wife and I and this is really starting to be a hassle. If someone would just tell me when the problem will be fixed, I’d be a lot happier, even if they said it’ll take a week. I feel like I’m getting the run-around, and since I can’t reach the executive customer service dept, I don’t know where else to turn.

To top all of this off, I’m expecting my FOURTH Droid X phone in the mail tomorrow since the first three had hardware and software issues, so that’s 4 phones since August 17th.

I’m pretty ticked off right now, and while I’m trying to stay calm, it’s getting difficult.

Monica Harper’s number doesn’t work because you’re not located in the Northeast. Try tracking down the contact information of your Verizon Wireless area president.

Update: Micah sent us an update this afternoon:

Great update to my situation! I got in touch with a senior executive support rep in New York on the phone this morning. I had a call back from the regional executive support within 15 minutes, and within 1 hour of that second call, the local tech who was actually out in the field called me personally and said that two power amplifiers had blown out in my local area and that they would be replaced this evening (they have to the repairs at night). He’s already called me back once today to tell me that he boosted the power to the other amps (which has already helped our speed a lot, hooray!) and he said he’ll be calling me back tomorrow and physically stopping by to make sure everything is working well. Thanks for all your help, guys! I’m glad to know this situation is finally getting taken care of.

By the way, the best numbers to call are 212-321-8700 (NY area) and 800-483-7988 (VA/Potomac area) for the executive resolution team. All the folks who I talked to there were extremely nice, from the top all the way down to the local tech, and their timeliness really helped restore part of my faith in Verizon. Now I just hope my fourth Droid X (arriving tomorrow) actually works properly…

And another:

Wow, I just got another call from the field tech, telling me that they had located another issue that had to do with our phones bouncing between 1X and 3G and they had fixed it. My experience with the standard corporate route was pretty dismal at first, but this has turned out much better than I had ever hoped (I never thought the actual field tech would call me). I just wanted to give you another update to emphasize how positive the situation has turned out to be. Thanks again for all you guys do!

Laser In On Your “Region President” To Get Verizon Wireless Executive Customer Service
Reach Verizon Wireless Executive Relations


Edit Your Comment

  1. highmodulus says:

    Time for the return of “Show us your Verizon face”.

  2. Jason says:

    I went through the same thing with Verizon about 3 years ago. I soon discovered I just needed to leave my apartment complex though and round the corner. After 2 weeks of tech calls, they discovered there was someone illegally jamming the signal. Next day, everything was fine.

    • somedave says:

      In 2007 I went through a similar thing with T-Mobile, but they finally just agreed to terminate my contract. I had already signed up with another carrier that worked fine, so that was all I wanted after about a month of problems with no resolution.

  3. ezraindustries says:

    (works for Verizon Wireless here) Tickets can take some time to finish, depending on what the issue is, and it’s an unfortunate lack of communication between departments that leads the ticket status being difficult to find. Fortunately, you can certainly get a credit for the days you were without service on the phone.

  4. highmodulus says:

    Hmm, looking at the related threads (upper right) seems to be a theme of Verizon disasters lately. Bad customer service, a tentpole phone that not only doesn’t match the iPhone 4, one that is labled “signal squandering, battery sapping” by Phil. Not that AT&T hasn’t had issues, but at least you can get an iPhone 4 and stay grandfathered on your all you can eat data plan.

    • superfluousK says:

      Can if you already had an iPhone, otherwise AT&T will politely tell you to go fuck yourself, unlimitedly, you can have 250MB or 2GB of data.

    • Skankingmike says:

      never was a plan that was unlimited.

      Second I have a Droid X and so does my wife.

      No issues as of yet. Have used it now for a month (nonstop). Stop being such a fan boy.

      the issue this person has is limited to his small area. There is probably something blocking it.

    • BobOki says:

      I hate verizon, but AT&T can just burn.
      What good is your pretty expensive phone… when you can’t make a damn call? I had a 75%+ call drop rate with AT&T, I am now on Sprint again in my area with a 4g, and have had three drop calls in like 3 months, more than acceptable.

  5. Commenter24 says:

    Everything else aside, have you considered the fact that VZW, especially its Customer Service department, may not actually know when it will be fixed? People always demand to know when a problem will be resolved without thinking about the fact that the company may not actually know what the problem is yet. It could tell you “tomorrow” but that’s probably a guess/lie. Until a tech gets out in the field and definitively determines what the problem is no one can tell you when it will be fixed. It sucks to here “we’re not sure” but getting pissed off due to lack of specificity is a little childish. This is a nuance that most people who haven’t worked in the tech field simply never seem to grasp.

    • dcaslin says:

      I work in the tech field, and I agree with what your saying, however it’s no defense for Verizon. If you don’t know when it’ll be fixed, don’t lie, just say so. Then call back when you say you will. I’ll bet Verizon forces call center ppl to generically say everything will be fixed in 24-48 hours if the issue is unknown.

  6. denali says:

    This would be “Rue the Air” and not “Rule the Air”, right?

  7. smashedpotats says:

    Clearly, Verizon tried calling your cell phones to explain the situation.

  8. mobilehavoc says:

    Turn on the wifi? Both of those phones have great Wifi radios that do 802.11n. Why use 3G data when you can have Wifi?

  9. wkm001 says:

    Welcome to the world of big business and unions. Verizon can’t tell you when it will be fixed because they have no idea, especially the support rep on the phone. The workers are no longer allowed to care about what they do. They all have such specialized duties no one is looking at the big picture.

  10. vastrightwing says:

    Smart phones seem to be getting dumber and dumber all the time. I’ve never had any issues with my dumb phone at all. It always works and it’s much less expensive.

    To be fair, what I’ve done is to get a VirginMobile MiFi for my data needs. It is not nearly as reliable as my dumb phone, but then I only pay for what I use.

  11. mmmsoap says:

    The Virgin Mobile data network was out on Thursday (Sept 2) through a good chunk of Saturday (Sept 4), though things seemed to settle out Sunday or Monday. From my experience, calls were unaffected, but data (text messages and web access) was. Virgin uses a lot of the same towers as Verizon in many areas (Virgin is owned by Sprint, and all 3 are CDMA).

    I’m wondering if these are related….

  12. [event horizon] says:

    I suggest you return your phones and switch carriers. If it is past the 30 day return period, cite breach of contract on their end. By signing the contract, you agreed to pay Verizon $XXX/month, while they agreed to provide you with service. Not only are they not providing you with service, but they (I assume) are charging you for it.

    May I suggest Sprint? The HTC Hero and Evo are comparable phones, while you bill will be MUCH cheaper. (For anyone that will say I am a fanboy, I actually have U.S. Cellular as my cell service, and I don’t work for Sprint.)