Verizon threatens survival of CounterVortex

CountertVortex editor and main contributor Bill Weinberg (that would be me) is currently without phone service, and only intermittent Internet access, due to a Verizon equipment failure. The last Verizon chat-jockey I spoke with said "it is a major cable issue and will need some time to be solved." That basically means they aren't going to fix it. I use DSL and a land-line—going through the old copper wires that Verizon is trying to phase out. And as ExtremeTech reported back in 2016: "For the past few years, there have been persistent reports from across the country that Verizon was forcing end-users to switch away from copper networks by deliberately tearing out infrastructure, firing repair crews, forcing customers to wait months for repair, and then claiming to Congress that its fiber conversion is driven by demand. In reality, that demand is being manufactured."

But I actually have no alternative to the copper connection. FIOS is not available in my building. That leaves cable. The last time I went through this, two years ago, I decided to ditch Verizon DSL for Time-Warner cable, promised that the transition would be "hassle-free." Instead, when the technician arrived to install the cable, it proved to be a lengthy operation that would ential drilling through exterior walls. This is of dubious legality without my landlord's permission. And I have witnessed first-hand the disastrous consequences of structural damage to old tenement buildings such as the one I live in—which has already suffered too much such damage due to the landlord's irresponsible gutting of support walls and so on over the years. So I had to veto that, and go back to Verizon with my tail between my legs. But switching my number back to Verizon proved a Kafkaesque ordeal that left me without service (phone or Internet) for nearly two months.

So switching is basically an impossibility.

I am not alone in this situation. Lower Manhattan's The Villager weekly reported in September on a meeting of irate land-line users who have been deprived by Verizon of the service they pay for each month and are entitled to by New York state law. On hand at the meeting were State Senator Brad Hoylman and Assemblymember Deborah Glick. The latter is my assemblymember, and her office was actually helpful in getting my service restored during my 2016 nightmare. But we need a permanent and systemic rather than piecemeal solution to this problem. 

So I am asking Deborah Glick's office, as well as the Public Utility Law Project—what are our options here? Can we get a class-action lawsuit off the ground? What kind of pressure can be brought on the state Public Service Commission (PSC), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the city Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications (DOITT) to get them to put the fear of God into Verizon?

CBS in 2015 reported the harrowing story of a Virginia woman seeking $2 million in damages after a call to Verizon literally gave her a heart attack. After she complained about them jacking her around, the phone jockey accused her of threatening a violent attack and said he was going to sic the cops on her. The usual game: Verizon has complete license to abuse us, while we don't even have the right to complain.

The last exchange I had with a Verizon, they told me my service would be out for 60 days. This basically means they do not intend to fix the cable. At the moment, I have no dial tone and Internet access only in patches—and the last time my dial tone went out, the net access eventually conked out completely too, leaving me immobilized for months. I work at home as a freelance journalist, and intimately depend on reliable access for my livelihood—as well as producing CounterVortex.

Even if you don't rely on copper wires yourself, if you care about the survival of CounterVortex, please join this effort. We must wrest some justice for land-line users from Verizon.

How do we proceed? I await your responses.

Photo: IBEW

  1. And why isn’t FIOS available in my building?

    The New York Times reported March 13, 2017: 

    Nine years after Verizon promised to make its high-speed Fios internet service available to every household in New York City, the city sued the company on Monday, saying it had failed to keep that pledge.

    In a complaint filed in New York State Supreme Court in Manhattan, the city contends that Verizon is in breach of a 2008 franchise agreement. That contract called for Verizon to build a citywide Fios network by the end of 2014. But, the city says, Verizon has failed to make its service available to at least "tens of thousands" of prospective customers and has refused to accept service requests from many others.

  2. Verizon is violating my human rights

    From the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

    Article 23.

    (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.

    (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.

    (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.

    (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.