Library of Congress Law and Family Plans

This morning I finally ‘carpet bombed’ the Verizon Executive Team. Thanks to emma for her assistance in editing the content and grammar. Thanks to Meghann at the consumerist for her help and recommendations. I will post updates and forward all updates to the consumerist team.

UPDATE: July 13th 3:00 PM — I upgraded the phone for my line, LG 8550 – aka the new LG Chocolate, and my mom’s line. While doing so, we were advised that emma’s line would not be eligible for the new every two even though she her account becomes eligible in October. I will need to follow up with Scott on this. I wasn’t advised of this particular detail.

The sales rep was pretty amazed when he saw the account and even called a co-worker over to loo at the account info. It was the first account they’d seen with two numbers from different markets on one account. = ) Mission, accomplished.

UPDATE: Las week of June — I called to make the change to add emma’s line to my  account and was told by a rep that someone would call be back the next day at 7pm because the ‘account change group’ reps were overwhelmed. I said OK and awaited the call.

The next night I watched as the time slipped by 7, then 8, then 9. Soon enough I was asleep. Guess they were really, really busy with call backs?

Friday afternoon rolled around. I was home, so it was after 1 – summer hours = score!, and my cell rang, la la la, it was a Verizon rep. One of the first things she did was apologize for the delayed call back. Not bad.

After a 15-20 minute conversation the lines were merged and everything was happy in the universe. We were both able to keep any features we had on our account (we have old text messaging plans that are no longer available, and move all three lines into one. Success!

The next thing I need to do now is upgrade my phone and get me mudda a new phone.

UPDATE: June 8th 6:28 PM — A 30 minute phone call with Scott and he confirmed that a name change is needed to compelete the change. That will take place on Monday or Tuesday. The savings will be between 30 and 40 dollars per month. That’s 360-480 dollars a year. All because we’ll be officially Family Planned by Verizon Wireless.

At one time Verizon Wirelees’s billing systems topped 8. It then dropped to 4 and eventually to 2. I’m not sure if they’re in between 2 and 1 presently but what matters is different market phone lines CAN be on the same Family Plan now! That’s what matters.

I had to ask about the topic of unlocking cell phones. He said it’s a business decision to leave everything as is within Verizon Wireless and said that it hasn’t been a hot topic of late. I wonder why that is.

We both agreed that the consumer should have the ability to use all the features the phone has but I recognize that there is likely no change in the foreseeable future. This disappoints me now that it is legal to unlock my phone. Meh.

If you’re reading this Scott thank you so uber much for your time and phone calls. It’s likely I’ll call again to let you know how the billing is working our and to see what else is going on with unlocking phones and/or other interesting topics that come about.

I can’t consider this issue closed yet. Let’s see how the customer service rep treats me when I call to make the change.

UPDATE: June 8th 12:30ish PM — Scott called me while I was in a meeting with some colleagues at Quinnipiac University.

UPDATE: June 7th 6:28 PM — OK I’m home and can now elaborate more on Scott’s phone call. Scott advised me that the option to have emma’s phone number (914 based) and my numbers (203 based) on to the same account has ben available for the past two months. I was taken aback. Two months?! He said that the billing systems we had discussed during our last conversation had finally been updated to allow for it to take place. Holy cool! Save. Ings! are on the way.

emma’s number needs to be moved off of her pop’s account but once that is complete the savings. OH! The savings.

I asked if Verizon planned on marketing this option and he said that it would be but not before some final quirks were worked out. This makes me very, very, very happy. I have no additional details except that CT and NY phone numbers can be on the same account. I have to say though, that is a massive piece of information for me so I’m all about the smiles.

Scott is going to call me back tomorrow to assist me with the rest of the process. I told him that I didn’t mind if he called tomorrow or next week. I’ve been calling Verizon Wireless for nearly two years… Seven more days won’t hurt.

UPDATE: June 7th 4:00 PM — Scott Armstrong just called and apologized for the missed voice mails. He was genuine in his apology of which I am/was most appreciative. The quick brief — Our phones will soon be on the same bill! I’ll add more soon. HOOOOORAAAAH! Thank you Scott!

UPDATE: June 6th 9:30 AM — Nelson Cohen called me to state that I “made a great point” and that I would hear back from someone within the next 24-48 hours.

TO: Tony Simpson (his email bounced), Tom Tauke, Bob Ingalls, Suleiman Hessami
CC: tips@consumerist.com, Bob Barish, William Barr, Bruce Beausejour, Maura Breen, Mike Hassett, Holyce Hess Groos, John Hoey, Jerry Holland, Virginia Ruesterholz, Joseph Russo, Doreen Toben
Subject: Library of Congress Law and Family Plans
Date: Jun 6, 2007 6:59 AM

Good morning. I am extremely happy to say I have been a Verizon Wireless customer since 1998. In fact I worked for Verizon Wireless when it was Bell Atlantic Mobile as a technical support representative in Wallingford, CT. To this day I promote Verizon’s network reliability whenever I discuss wireless providers with friends, family, and/or strangers. To that and many other points I am a constant advocate for Verizon Wireless.

Recently I have come upon two stumbling blocks that baffle me due to Verizon’s constant leadership in the wireless industry – the recent law change by the Library of Congress (LOC) and Family Plans.

As you are likely aware in November of 2006 the LOC stated it is legal for consumers to unlock their phone. On December 18, 2006 I posted to planetfeedback – http://www.planetfeedback.com/index.php?level2=blog_viewpost&topic_id=294259 – a question to Verizon Wireless about the new LOC copyright changes. Within one (1) month I received a phone call from Scott Armstrong. He asked me about the new law and what I knew about it. I advised him what I knew per arstechnica’s post – http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20061124-8280.html – and discussed another topic near and dear to my heart, family plans for Verizon customers with phone numbers in different states. He gave me his phone number and said to call him if I had any other questions.

Knowing nothing would change overnight I waited some time before calling to ask for an update. Months later, I called Mr. Armstrong on March 13, 2007. Knowing he was likely to be very busy I determined two (2) weeks would be sufficient time for him to return my call. He did not. I called again during the week of March 25-31. With no return call I waited another two (2) weeks and tried again during the week of April 8-14. One (1) week later, the week of April 15-21, I called again. My last attempt was 3 days later, the week of April 22-28. During my last call I hung up, for the first time, before going to voice mail.

Each time I called I left a calm, professional voice mail reminding him of our conversation in December of 2006, being sure to mention both topics – the LOC changes and family plan billing, my name and cell phone number, and that I looked forward to hearing back from him at his convenience.

With no success I reached out to a consumer advocate site: The Consumerist (consumerist.com). They posted an article identifying a number of Verizon executive phone numbers. The list is fantastic but I was not sure who best to contact and so I have contact each of you.

Since my initial contact with Mr. Armstrong a staff writer at CNET , Maggie Reardon (maggie.reardon@cnet.com), wrote a story titled “Will ‘unlocked’ cell phones free consumers?” (http://news.com.com/2100-1039_3-6152735.html) Two lawyers wrote a piece titled “Copyright Law Gives Mobile Users New Freedom With Legally Unlocked Cell Phones” (http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1170410587623) about the LOC updates, and now, with months of phone calls behind me, I’m writing to all of you.

On the topic of Family Plans: I have spoken with representatives at Cingular, T-Mobile, and Sprint about family plans only to learn that they are unable or unwilling to put different market phones onto one family share plan due to billing complications or company policy. To the best of my knowledge, based on many, many phone calls to Verizon Wireless customer support, the only thing holding this option back was/is a difference in billing systems for the markets I have called about (CT and NY). If you review my account you will see that I have been calling about this topic for over one and a half years. In fact, it has likely been longer than one and a half years.

This is the first time I’ve written to anyone at Verizon Wireless for any reason. I understand and fully respect the chain of command; unfortunately I have been left with no further recourse.

I enjoy Verizon Wireless’ coverage but I would like more control of my phone, especially now that it is legal, and I would like to be able to save on monthly access fees by combining my (CT based) and my wife’s (NY based) account into one. Over six (6) months after the LOC change consumers have had no additional support from the wireless industry and family members that have stayed with providers for years who do not want to change their number are forced to pay high monthly fees with no alternatives in sight. What options are there for couples/families that have phone numbers based in two (2) or more markets?

Thank you for your time and understanding in these matters. Have a splendid day.

Gary Ploski
(phone number removed)

2 Comments

  1. Gary, I have a question for you about a VZW issue i am having. Its all the way to executive relations right before aritration.

    Let me know if you are interested in hearing it.

    David

  2. I don’t know if I can help but please would be interested to hear what VZW issue you are experiencing.

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