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Verizon gets me again with a disabled feature

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Verizon_logoI have been a Verizon customer for years, their network and EV-DO coverage in my local area is top-notch and from a service standpoint I have been quite happy with them.  Where I have not been so happy with them is in their insistence on disabling features on some phones so they can ply their own services for extra cost.  They bit me on their first Bluetooth-enabled phone, the Motorola V710, and I just realized today they got me again on the BlackBerry 8830.  You may recall the V710 issue became a class-action lawsuit as unhappy owners wouldn’t just roll over for Verizon’s disabling the Bluetooth tethering ability that was integrated into the V710.

Today I am sitting here in disbelief, quite embarrassed that I missed such a key feature of the 8830 in my brief research into the phone prior to buying one from Verizon.  Did you know the 8830 has integrated GPS?  Neither did I as the Verizon marketing material doesn’t mention it and neither did the rep in the store when I bought it.  It turns out that Verizon has disabled the GPS, no doubt to push their own VZNavigator service for $10 per month.  No VZNavigator service, no GPS.  They got me again!  I became aware of this fact after visiting a few BlackBerry user forums today and there are quite a few people a little peeved at Verizon about this.  I can’t say as I blame them too much.  Disabling a key feature like GPS is pretty big and RIM should share some of the blame for not having the cojones to stand up to Verizon and insisting they not disable it.  Both companies should be ashamed of themselves.  Don’t get me wrong, GPS is not that big a deal for me personally and certainly wasn’t one of the reasons why I selected the 8830.  Had I known about the lack of the GPS I still likely would have purchased the BlackBerry.  It’s the principal of the thing.  Like the old saying goes, shame on me.

RIM statement after the jump

The BlackBerry 8830 smartphone houses a proprietary, autonomous GPS receiver. This
receiver is able to calculate the handheld’s location relying solely on GPS
satellites with no input from cellular towers.  While the device does have assisted
GPS, i.e. A-GPS capability, it houses a "full" GPS system similar in nature
to GPS systems used by GPS-only car kits and mobile devices. This is designed to
be accessible by second- and third-party applications such as BlackBerry Maps, Google
Maps, and TeleNav. Such programs do need a wireless data signal to download mapping
information, though they can figure out where the BlackBerry is in terms of latitude
and longitude with just the GPS signal. 

The BlackBerry 8830 smartphone as released by Verizon has had this "full"
GPS capability disabled at a software level. Verizon has indicated that they plan
to release their own proprietary GPS mapping solution at a later time; possibly
VZ Navigator. AT&T and T-Mobile have both taken similar routes with their 8800
series handhelds; locking out GPS access for 3rd party programs and only enabling
access to the built-in receiver to the TeleNav program that they sell themselves.

If you would like Verizon to enable GPS functionality on the BlackBerry 8830, I
suggest you contact them and advise them as much.

Thank you again for contacting us, Dennis. If you have any questions or comments,
feel free to contact us.


BlackBerry Customer Support
Research In Motion Limited

Found on the Crackberry user forums

19 Responses to “Verizon gets me again with a disabled feature”

  1. jeremy

    VZNavigator is most certainly not free on PDA devices as of 2nd Quarter 2008. My Moto Q9C, which has a GPS chip installed and fully works on the Sprint network does not work on the Verizon network. This is not even configurable in the programming menu under GPS settings. A lovely ALERT warns you that this function is disabled.

    I have written letters to Verizon on this issue. I have spoken with the Assistant to the President who informed me it was the Marketing department who made the decision and she would forward the issue to them. A bonus is that I got 1000 free bonus minutes to use throughout my contract.

    If anyone knows how to hack past the Alert screen the function is probably able to be switched on. At least on Windows Mobile devices….

    Otherwise I urge everyone to write. Yes, write do not email. Write to the corporate offices with your complaint. It is the only way they will change.

  2. more deception: notice how the Verizon rep stated that the SOFTWARE to ‘utilize this program[VZNavigator’] will be available at no cost to the customer. Not so for the VZNavigator service, which does cost, and renders the free software useless without paying the fee. Typical coporate sophistry.

  3. Dear ,

    Thank you for your recent e mail to Mr. Dennis Strigl, who has asked me to respond to you on his behalf.

    Verizon Wireless’ advertisements do not represent the autonomous GPS receiver and you may be referring to and Ad by the manufacturer. There may be disclaimers that not all carriers will sell the unit with the GPS system active.

    In the 4th quarter of 2007, Verizon Wireless is expecting to launch VZNavigator in many of our PDA devices. The software to utilize this program would be available to our customers at no cost.

    If you have further questions, please feel free to contact me directly.

    Steve Schwed
    Verizon Wireless
    HQ Executive Relations Supervisor
    e-mail [email protected]

  4. Hey, ambigious user, you DO realize that GPS is a receive ONLY system? you read signals from satellites to triangulate your position and don’t send anything back to anyone!

    Unless of course you believe THEY are all out to get you, you turn your TV to face the wall at night so THEY can’t see into your brain, and you wear a tin foil hat when you surf the interwebs!

    • Im not sure were you get your information from but the GPS in these phones use CELL TOWERS TO TRIANGULATE YOUR LOCATION!!!NOT TTHE ONES FLYING OVER EARTH

  5. Ambiguous User

    There needs to be a way to DISABLE all those chips. Federal law requiring GPS for “safety” is BULLSHIT. They want to track their own citizens, plain and simple. Criminalizing them is their prerogative, apparently, since the new ID and passport they want to put out has ALL data corresponding to you; in other words, if you leave the country, or get an ID, you’re a criminal, and WE [Uncle Big Brother] WILL kill you. Great, God bless America.

  6. bluemonq

    T-Mobile’s 8800 does have GPS. The reason that they don’t mention it is because they don’t offer technical support for it. However, Blackberry Maps is still on the phone, and the GPS chipset is enabled.

  7. I went with AT&T for my new data service and am phasing out my and my company’s use of Verizon after many years with them (the last several of which I stayed even though I was not on contract) because of their increasing disrespect for their customers, e.g., deciding to put a cap on the “Unlimited” data plan after people had already invested in hardware, deliberately handicapping the Bluetooth features in their phones, etc.

    Verizon used to be the cat’s meow but have completely lost touch with the idea of customer service.

  8. This is so much crap. Interestingly, I made a comment on another blog post I read today regarding locked phones that would apply nicely to JK’s post:

    Essentially, I said I was fed up with cell phone providers lording their power over cell phone manufacturers. I wish that all of the cell phone manufacturers would just sell their phones unlocked. There’s no real benefit for the customers to have locked phones besides getting subsidized phones. Perhaps if more manufacturers would sell unlocked phones, the cell phone providers would finally compete by having good networks and network-specific features, instead of locking people in with 2-year contracts and crippled phones.

  9. I can second David: AT&T most certainly DOES allow you to use the GPS chip in the BlackBerry 8800 with Google Maps for no extra charge. They’d like everyone to sign up for their $10 add-on, TeleNav…but they don’t force you and don’t disable the GPS chip in any way.

  10. I saw Garmin software running on an 8800 at Digital Experience last week. Not sure if it was TMo or AT&T. I think I’ve also read of people using Google Maps with the GPS on the 8800. Though I hear Telenav is pretty good. Wonder how Sprint will handle their 8830?

  11. David

    I’m not 100% positive on TMo, just 95%…because when I called VZW the first time about this they patched me into RIM and RIM said that both of them had the feature and fully enabled, only VZW chose to disable it…even Sprint is keeping it. I am however 100% certain about the ATT one as I started working there this week. While you can pay 10$ a month for TeleNav, you can use Google Maps with no fee and full GPS. (PS. Don’t tell, but I still have VZW, you just can’t beat EVDO….I’m returning the 8830 and going to hold out some more on the i760. Hopefully it comes soon!)

  12. David

    In regards to that response from RIM, ONLY the Verizon 8830 of the 8800 line is locked as such…the ATT and TMo ones aren’t. I have a VZW 8830 because I couldn’t wait for the i760 and really wanted the GPS. It was very irate, especially since it is advertised in the Spring Connect VZW magizine and the rep I purchased it from assured me that it had it there and it was fully functional.

  13. Corporate Greed

    IMHO this is a byproduct of corporate greed, particularly that greed which is focused on “this quarter’s earnings” with no regard for the long term and no regard for the customer. I remember when the domestic automobile manufacturers maximized their short term profits at my expense in some unconscionable ways such as when Ford decided it was cheaper for pintos to blow up than to fix them. That was about 25-40 years ago. Through my adult life I have never bought a domestically branded car. I read recently where Ford did focus groups and found that Camry and Accord drivers evaluated the Ford Fusion higher than than the competition. Ford’s shock, which anyone in my generation would have predicted, is that those same Camry and Accord buyers told Ford that although Ford’s car might be better, they will not buy one under any circumstances. Someday, Verizon, AT&T, and several other telcos, will find the same consumer opt-out. But for the moment, the telecom executives continue to get rich and Wall Street is happy…….

  14. Oliver

    So basically consumers pay for a piece of hardware in the phone (the GPS chip certainly isn’t free) and Verizon decides they don’t get to use it. Time for another class action law suit, anyone?