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Verizon Wireless crippling connectivity for Alltel customers. FCC complaint

by winterband / February 21, 2010 12:29 AM PST

The following is an active complaint with the NC Atty General and the FCC regarding Verizon Wireless deliberately crippling the connectivity of customers who elected to stay on Alltel data plans. This would mostly affect people in fringe areas (though advertised as full coverage areas) An update to this complaint is that Verizon is retaliating by removing credits that we had been given because of previous service failures. Please spread this information around, especially to any Verizon customers you know who may be having connectivity problems. It COULD be deliberate.

FTC complaint # 25257585 NCDOJ Complaint # 1001670 FCC complaint 10-C00194123
BBB complaint # 9431389

This may need a technical person to understand the details.

Verizon Wireless bought Alltel and the Alltel customers could remain on Alltel plans. Verizon is now deliberately crippling the connectivity of smart phones that are on the Alltel plan instead of the more expensive Verizon plan.

We came over to Verizon Wireless when they purchased Alltel. We were/are on a data plan with one "smartphone" and the rest regular phones.

I was expecting to get better phone reception once the transition was done to merge Alltel etc. Instead I found that my phone (the smartphone) would not work well as a phone. I was advised that the smartphones don't get as good of reception (why don't they advertise that, eh?)

I have endured months of poor phone service and have gone through several phone changes (which meant wasting hundreds of dollars in accessories that I had purchased for my original smart phone).

The event that prompted me to change phones and lose my investment in accessories was an event where my wife was desperately trying to call me because our grandson was bleeding and it would not stop. My son was with me and she was able to call him to contact me, but what if he had not been there? (I thought).

For months we would be in the same car and she would be unable to call me but his phone would work just fine (same plan but his is not a data phone).

Verizon tech support suggested going to another brand of phone and one on the Verizon system so that I could get a "hybrid" PRL (preferred roaming list) so that I could get phone reception. After several more phone swaps and wasted time I was finally advised of the cause.

Verizon Wireless is deliberatly crippling the smart phones which are on an Alltel plan instead of the more expensive Verizon plan. This is only the smart phones that are being crippled. My phone has a PRL of 40059 which deliberately limits my connectivity even though I am in the advertised full coverage area. You can imagine my anger at discovering that all these months Verizon had been deliberately crippling my connectivity to try to get me to move to their more expensive plan. The Verizon plan data PRL starts with a 6

I believe that their actions may well be criminal as they are discriminating against former Alltel data phone customers.

It was a tech support manager who revealed this to me because they are very frustrated in trying to give support to people whose phones are being deliberately disabled by a crippled PRL.

This deliberate crippling of smartphones that are still on Alltel plans could cause public safety issues such as the incident when my grandson was bleeding. Imagine when I discovered that my phones failures and poor reception was a DELIBERATE marketing strategy by Verizon.

Update 2/17/2010 I was contacted by one Karen Milbrodt from the Verizon Wireless President's office stating that because I was on an Alltel plan that I was not entitled to the same connectivity that I would have if I was on a Verizon plan. She basically confirmed my allegations. Also she advised me that I was not entitled to the credits that had been applied to my account by an earlier customer service manager and that they were going to remove the credits. I had been concerned about this retaliation by Verizon Wireless.

If you are a smart phone customer who is on an Alltel plan with Verizon wireless and you are having connectivity problems please note the complaint numbers at the beginning.

Steve Winter


This is my reply to Verizon's 2/17/2010 answer to the North Carolina Dept of Justice

FTC complaint # 25257585 NCDOJ Complaint # 1001670 FCC complaint 10-C00194123
BBB complaint # 9431389

I have expanded my complaint to include fraud and false advertising by Verizon Wireless

Re File # 1001670
In the Verizon Wireless response they admit my allegation that they are limiting the connectivity of Alltel customers by providing a crippled PRL. That most certainly does limit the connectivity of the phone. Their excuse for their discrimination against Alltel plan customers affirms my allegation.

We are in a fringe area, BUT this area is advertised by Alltel and Verizon Wireless as being a full coverage area. This amounts to an admission of false advertising by Verizon Wireless.

The credits given us previously were due to the past trouble that we had been experiencing. I am not privy to how the customer service manager coded the credits but we were promised the credits for many years into the future as incentive to stay with Verizon., and as compensation for past troubles.
It was my concern that Verizon would retaliate for my filing this complaint by removing the promised credits. I had called Verizon many many times and wasted many hours on the phone with a plethora of problems. The customer service manager was able to see all of the problems we had been having.

Verizon also admits that the ?unlimited free photo, free video etc. plan that we are on does use minutes which is also an admission of false advertising on the part of Alltel

Verizon is engaged in a pattern of limiting connectivity of Alltel customers, especially those on data plans. The other phones my family members carry have a DIFFERENT PRL from mine that does seem to work. It is my data smart phone that has the deliberate connectivity limitation.

In summary, in the letter from Karen Milbrodt she admits the following:

1.Verizon/Alltel continues to advertise full coverage in areas that they KNOW that they do not have full coverage.
2.Verizon/Alltel are advertising an ?unlimited text video and photo family data package? knowing full well that they are charging call minutes for use of those ?unlimited? features.
3.I was promised the credits that she now is removing. The details she provides are just a lame excuse for Verizon's retaliation for my filing this complaint. Obviously credits don't block unwanted features which should establish that she is lying. The credits were given as a culmination of many ongoing problems and trouble tickets etc. I was told that data had to be enabled for the photo and video messaging features to work. The credits were compensation and incentive to stay with Verizon.

I feel to add that it was Verizon tech support who first advised me that I needed a better PRL to fix the connectivity issues that I was experiencing. It is my understanding that Verizon has in some areas actually transferred towers FROM Alltel use to exclusive use for Verizon plan customers with the effect of further limiting connectivity of the Alltel customers.

Today I have very poor connectivity and I am very much within an area that is advertised by Verizon/Alltel as a full coverage area. I ask that my complaint be expanded to include false advertising AND deliberate fraud by Verizon Wireless especially Karen Milbrodt in their retaliation efforts to breach the agreement that I had been given in the $19.95 credit per line to stay with Verizon.

Steve Winter

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Why not simply upgrade your handset & PRL?

Sorry to hear you have had such bad reception issues. But I'm still not sure why everyone screams 'class action lawsuit' (etc.) when all it takes is a handset change. By the time any sort of governmental body gets around to actually gaining enough pull from a judge or court (etc.) to supposedly fix your situtation, Verizon will *legally* be able to switch you over to a new plan anyway revolving around the merger. That's the unfortunate reality we live with. If more folks voted only for politicians who did not take money from the telecommunications lobby, we might actually have a chance to reform the system to benefit the consumer.

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been there, done that
by vbjess / May 4, 2010 4:13 PM PDT

The issue is not so much in the handsets (although Verizon has admitted to me that they have known about on-going issues with Blackberry devices that Blackberry is supposedly "working on,") as it is with Verizon's network. I upgraded from a normal Alltel handset to a Verizon Blackberry Storm in September 2009, and all I've had so far are problems. The price difference in our current plan (from Alltel) and a comparable Verizon plan is at least $100 per month. Uh, no thanks.

This really has nothing to do with voting politicians in or out. This is shady business practices. I have a Verizon phone that does NOT work on the Verizon network. This is a VERIZON problem, not one of the telecommunications industry as a whole. I'm really not sure how to make that any more clear.

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I feel your pain
by olhandley / January 22, 2011 12:06 AM PST

I am sorry but relieved to hear this. I am (was) in a similar situation with verizon. Unfortunately, I don't have the patience to deal with lawsuits. I paid the ETF and moved on. I too had the different prl and multiple changed handsets, all to no avail. I recall sitting waiting for calls and get voicemail instead even with ample signal or calling people and the call either not going through or they could hear me but I could not hear them. This has forever tarnished verizons reputation in my eyes. It was not my choice that they purchased alltel and regardless my money was paid to vzw every month for a service. If they didnt want alltel customers to keep their current plans they should have given us the option to walk away.

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Similar situation

I have a wireless internet card that I subscribed to a little over a year ago right before the transfer from Alltel to Verizon. I have been to the Verizon store numerous times and have talked to tech support about the same ongoing issues. I have had PRL numbers updated, visited the store for updates, called tech support for help and various reasons were always given.

There was always an excuse and steps to take with the ending result being that if I really wanted the service I was looking for, I would need to change plans.

I ran into problems with the card on my Toshiba to my new MAC.

The new MAC which I have purchased to replace my Toshiba really confuses Verizon. I ran into problems first thing with Verizon wireless card not working on my MAC - no connectivity. And of course the first thing I am told is that in order to get wireless service on my new MAC, I have to upgrade my wireless card to work with a 64 bit MAC like my computer. The Alltel card I have is not compatible and they do not offer any wireless card other than an upgrade to the Verizon plan to work with my MAC. This means I have to purchase a different wireless plan under Verizon (switch out of my Alltel plan) and I have to sign on for 2 more years when I am barely over the 1st year under my Alltel plan.

I reminded them that I had already been complaining for a year about the service and ask for help in getting service without having to resign, pay more, lose my unlimited minutes, etc. This does not matter to them. I am then told I would be placed on a 5 GB plan with Verizon. In sales talk, I was told that if I wanted service, I had to switch plans and I would loose what was advantageous for me and would be switched to what worked better for them. I refused.

I talked with all of the experts at Verizon (tech and otherwise) and no one can help me and again the switching of plans was my alternative. I then called APPLE about my MAC and found out that I can run my computer as a 32 bit or 64 bit. To connect to the internet I have to disable my computer to a 32 bit to use the card that I have. Although I can use the wireless card, I am still limited to what I can pull off of the internet because of the speed of the card.

Today, 5/20, I call Verizon because I can not even use my wireless card. During my lengthy discussions, one of the techs I spoke with said that if you use over 5GB of service there is something called a "throttle" which slows down your internet speed. When I asked him if this was legal he conveniently came up with that he was incorrect that was not with my card but another. I then found out that the wireless card they are making me use goes through a servicer called Quick Link Mobile and is a dial up service at about 800 KB per second. Verizon uses VG or Easy (not sure what he said) Access Manager a different servicer which uses board band and is much faster. (1.2 MB per second)

I explained that I just bought my MAC and I can not even watch "How To" videos on Apple's website because the connection speed is too slow.

I was transferred to another tech up the chain for help trying to get me a connection. I was on the phone for almost 2 hours, this was after I had spent a lot of time on my own trying to connect before I called. I had to reexplain the entire story again. He told me that the main problem is to get me connection. I told him there were several issues because I had been dealing with this for a year now.

I am paying for internet service but I can not connect to the service most days.

When it is after hours, I can not reach help.

When I can connect, I can not watch videos from Youtube, the news, or Apple's website

I have a contract that if I decide to not pay or get out of I am punished because they are holding me to accountable but yet they do not provide service

No one told me when I switched from my previous internet service I would be limited to the use of the internet on this card

I am paying for service but not getting service.

I ask for service and I am told the only way I can get the service I am looking for (what a normal person would expect to do on the internet), I have to resign a contract for 2 more years, lose my unlimited minutes, pay more money and if I go over the allotted time, I am charged more money.

I am sure I am not the only person out there experiencing problems with this. Your story sounds similar in that Verizon tries to strong arm people into changing plans. Does anyone have an answer? Is there a class action lawsuit we can do? I am only asking for service that I pay for. This has not worked. They are now using strong arm tactics trying to push me into a new plan under Verizon. They bought Alltel and should have thought about the crossover before the undertaking. I was not aware of everything at the time and have been mislead, lied to, and now I feel my services may have even been hampered with considering your story and the conversation I had with the tech about their "throttling) process they have in place. Who knows what other practices they have we just do not know about. I live in Florida if anyone knows of actions I can take in my state.

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Terms of your agreement
by Pepe7 / May 20, 2010 4:37 AM PDT
In reply to: Similar situation

You are in a no-win situation unfortunately ;(. Also, class action lawsuits generally only benefit the attorneys and rarely do anything significant to affect the corporation doing the dirtywork. Just keep that in mind.

With the Alltel acquisition they are within their right to change the terms. If it's some sort of wireless card compatibility issue moving from Alltel to Verizon, they are even more within their right to force you to use new hardware including an accompanying plan that is compatible. Old plans don't have to be grandfathered forever and can legally be removed/changed thanks to very weak telecommunication laws/regulations and heavy lobbying by the big telcos who throw money at congress/govt. Combine that w/ a general public that doesn't take time to vote or really get involved in this stuff for the most part adn you can quickly see how we are fighting an uphill battle against the big corporations.

You might get more information on what technical options you have, and also info the alltel acquistion if you visit

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Also try
by Pepe7 / May 20, 2010 5:35 AM PDT
In reply to: Similar situation
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Thank You Pepe
by ebeth99 / May 20, 2010 6:20 AM PDT

Thanks Pepe, I appreciate your assistance. I do not like class action law suits but I know sometimes they send a wake up call to shareholders and investors of companies. When the bottom line is being affected it can cause people to take notice from within who can make a change a lot quicker than a customer on the outside. Sometimes, when you send in two equally aggressive and greedy participants in a free for all (class action attorneys and a non consumer friendly company), you do not have to take the licks and can sit back and let them fight it out. Personally, I would just like to get what I signed up for and pay for on a monthly basis.

I agree with you that a lot of this "corporate" greed can be changed by voters and I think America is beginning to wake up. Unfortunately, we have so many career politicians on both side who lie and mislead their constituents making them think they are on their side and they really do not care for them or our great Country. There are just so many fires blazing right now that it is a full time job just keeping up with the latest scams and misuse of powers all across the board. That is why I am so happy for the Internet and bloggers who step up to the plate and help other people who are going through similar situations.

Thank you for caring enough to fill me in and give me direction. I will check out the sites.

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Same Problem
by VJoeBaker / January 23, 2012 1:12 AM PST
In reply to: Similar situation

It seems the Verizon Wireless (VZW) has created a policy of throttling customer who have "Unlimited 3G" data plans that were originally acquired through the AllTel acquisition (for me it's a MiFi 2200). It's called "Network Optimization", nice name huh? I was told by a Supervisor at VZW Tech Support that they begin to throttel as soon as the plan exceeds 2Gb/month (and there is congestion on the tower) and continue until the plan refreshes each month. All others users are allowed to consume at will. I am paying for an "UNLIMITED Data Plan" and they are throttling me, while allowing others, who pay less then I do to have clear access. This is a bad business practice and is NOT in accord with my AllTel contract or what any reasonable person would remotely consider an Unlimited Plan. Most times I am getting speeds below 56kbps on downloads while getting 1.2mbps uploads, which makes it just about useless! On my new Galaxy Nexus I get 1.2 - 1.5mbps at the same time. I need this data connection for my job and I cannot work with speeds like this, but VZW doesn't care. I have complained to the Virginia SCC and the FCC. I am also looking for anyone interested in joining a Class Action Lawsuit.

Note: This post was edited by a forum moderator to remove email to prevent abuse by others and spam harvesters on 01/23/2012 at 10:33 AM PT

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Next time....
by birdmantd Forum moderator / January 23, 2012 2:02 AM PST
In reply to: Same Problem

Start a new thread instead of latching onto one started in 2010. Throttling is occurring @ At&t as well and the carriers are well within their rights if they feel it is adversely affecting their networks. No threatened Class action lawsuit will work since no carrier guarantees data connection speeds.

This thread is now closed. Feel free to start a new thread but no further discussion needs to be continued on this thread.

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Sounds familiar
by birdmantd Forum moderator / May 20, 2010 6:14 AM PDT

This whole discussion reminds me of the Cingular buyout of the old AT&T Wireless network and customers trying to hold on to "Blue" plans. Don't recall that the government stepped in then and doubt it will be any different now. Yes, I know that there are still current At&t customers still holding on to those plans and won't change until the are forced to.

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I believe it's already happening to some 'blue' folks
by Pepe7 / May 21, 2010 2:28 AM PDT
In reply to: Sounds familiar

I thought I read at Hofo that some folks have already been 'served their papers'.

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Yes they have
by birdmantd Forum moderator / May 21, 2010 3:00 AM PDT

Some "Blue" customers on At&t have gotten notification that the mmode data portal will be shut down and to prevent a loss of data to migrate their plans.

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Similar connectivity issue; no smartphone

I recently started having these connectivity issues (almost no bars, constant roaming on cell and VL600 modem) and I do not have a smartphone but I do use converted Alltel cell numbers an Verizon service. My low connectivity just started in the past 60 days and Verizon tells me it's because I'm using "hybrid" service. I'm in a Verizon full service area (New Port Richey, FL) and Verizon 4G LTE internet on my laptop. I knew I wasn't crazy; thank you for this thread. I will be filing a complaint with the Florida Attorney General's Ofc.

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