Verizon FiOS Breaks Closed Captioning, Blames Customer

The growth of streaming video isn’t a net positive for everyone: it can be a real problem for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing and depend on captions to understand television content. Rosalie thought that she could at least depend on the regular TV programming that comes into her house through a Verizon FiOS box to have legally mandated captions, but not so fast.

She spent a year without properly working captions on the on-demand channels while Verizon blamed her television set, her router, her cable box, and everything except the one little setting on their end that was actually causing the problem. Oh.

Over a year ago, about a year and a half ago, the captioning started going wonky on Fios Video On Demand (FIOS VoD). It had happened before, I figured it would work out, and I watched what I could. I finally told them the problem, I was told to reset the router and the box. It did nothing. I was told I didn’t understand how captioning worked and that the problem was not on their end. It was my TV, I need to get a new one and upgrade to HD service. I contacted Samsung about my less than one year old TV, and was told absolutely not, if the captioning worked for regular channels it’s not the captioning and it’s not the TV, and that was indeed the case.

I complained about how I was treated and essentially got nowhere. Finally they decide to send me a new box, even though they stated that the box doesn’t have anything to do with captioning. No change, and somewhere along the line I started getting repeated network errors, which I told them about. I finally get really forceful telling them I’m not going to reboot anything anymore. They send me a new router. No change. I had repeatedly asked them to check things on their end, the lines, anything. So I called back and said listen, this cannot go on any longer. It is nothing on my end. What do they do? They check their server, and fix the problem in under five freaking minutes.

Over a year. For a five minute fix. Oh, and about my not knowing how captioning works? I grew up without captioning. I was a teenager before we could afford a captioning box, years before TVs were required to have a caption chip. Captioning opens a whole world for people who can’t hear, which is why it’s damn sad people like NASA* don’t caption their videos. Transcripts don’t cut it, you cannot really follow a video when you’re reading several paragaphs down on a transcript. I know damn well how captioning works. It’s just so much fun to be assumed I simply don’t know something, and I was also told to look it up!

You may also recall Rosalie’s struggle with Teavana, a store that can sell you the rare chais but still wasn’t clear on the concept that disabled people exist. Maybe Verizon employees need similar training.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.