Verizon, Why You Gotta Mess With My Settings?

17 Comments

8100_2bFaced with a free moment on Saturday night, I succumbed to the temptation to check the GigaOM site on my BlackBerry. But when I clicked on my browser, I ended up in the Verizon (s VZ) start page. After checking that I had indeed clicked through the correct icon, I realized (with some irritation) that I had to go back in and change my settings to get my GigaOM home page back.

A quick call to Verizon’s customer service elicited no information, other than a guess that the phone had been updated and it erased the settings. Beyond the irritation, the unexpected and unauthorized change to my settings was a reminder that the phone still exists in a completely different world from that of the desktop or the notebook. If people connected to the web and found their settings changed by their ISP, there would be freakouts all over the blogosphere.But on the phone, the place where we’re spending an increasing amount of our online minutes, mild irritation and a quick jaunt over to settings was all I could muster. However, with beefier computers such as netbooks relying on mobile networks (and faster wireless networks such as WiMAX that are angling to compete with cable and DSL), perhaps I should freak out.

Such an update is pretty invasive, especially from a carrier that already blocks some of my smartphone’s niftier features, such as navigation, in hopes of lining its own pockets. This little incident has me wondering: As we do more over wireless data networks, what rights should users expect, and how should carriers communicate the rights they’re willing to give — and take?

17 Comments

Joe

The point in the last paragraph about Verizon blocking native phone functionality is a critical one, and more important than even the main point of the article. Verizon seems to have a tradition of messing with the native OS and GUI on their branded phones. For example, my girlfriend’s Verizon-branded Motorola RAZR V3 had nowhere NEAR the full functionality of my identical, but Sprint-branded RAZR V3. A lot of the features on mine simply didn’t exist on hers (e.g., Verizon RAZR V3’s couldn’t be set for both vibrate and low volume ring at the same time….my Sprint one could). A lot of other features were missing…. don’t know why Verizon insists on messing with the excellent software that comes from the factory on most of these phones. To add insult to injury, the Verizon-customized software on the RAZR had relatively course resolution graphics that looked like they belonged on a much older generation phone.

rkms

As time progresses, we are becoming slaves to technology. And this over dependence on technology is providing avenues to those who are in charge of mainaining the facility to intrude into our lives in some form or other without our permission.

The verison thing is one such instance. I am sure we will find numerous other instances too if only we looked closely.

Jesse Kopelman

Evidence that four national carriers is not enough competition after all? This is especially true when two of the four, Sprint and T-Mobile, spend significantly less on network improvement than the other two. The death of MVNO really hurts here, as it offered at least a glimmer of hope that one might be able to choose the right combination of retail attitude and network performance instead of being faced with limited either/or choices.

Ryan

Its a simple matter of balancing pros & cons. Verizon customers enjoy the superior coverage in exchange for more oppressive business practices. If you want more openness and transparency, it will cost you somewhere.

Jim

Verizon operates with an oppressive arrogance – of which this one small issue is very representative. Great network, but that is about it. I finally had to leave them and move on.

Paul

I loved Verizon. Great coverage, OK phones, great tech support. Then, when I upgraded to a new Blackberry, they added both the video download service (free at first, but then $10/month) and the equipment protection plan ($5/month) without getting my approval or even warning me. The end of a beautiful relationship.

Now I like T-Mobile. Greatest tech support around. International phones (Paris, dahling. Beijing. Oh, do behave). Coverage is OK. Livable. Slow. But they never try to screw me.

Oren

I have a Verizon blackberry 8830 which doesn’t have a software update even available yet for os 4.5 (don’t get me started) and the same thing happened- my home page was overridden OTA…

Volney

Same thing happened to me, the browser was updated over the air and actually disappeared from the icons and settings (default browsers was blank). This required a hard reboot of the phone to get the browsers to load again. Verizon did the update to my brothers Blackberry while he was using it and he thought it was just a bug until I told him it happened to me at the same time! The Verizon people claim it was just a registration issue—on both phones at the same time!? I think not..

Stacey Higginbotham

John, it was an over-the-air update simply because i don’t synch my BlackBerry to my computer. I also have a pearl, rather than a curve, but I am with you on using Verizon because the quality of voice and data service rocks.

So SFMitch, that’s why i stick with it despite my dislike of Verizon’s business practices. However, I would like a little more transparency from them and don’t think it’s crazy to expect it. I also think such practices will become more and more problematic as an increasing number of people bump up against those limits with netbooks, smartphones and other devices.

spg

this is just another reason why in the end the big evolution towards a totally mobile internet world is going to evolve from cell phone network connected laptops down to smaller sized devices; not from cell phones up to lager more capable devices. the end result will be similar but the sales/business/usage model very different.

courtney benson

I agree that one needs to speak with their wallet but here’s something to consider: the current scam your customers because we can attitude (telcoms, credit card companies, banks, brokerage houses, hedge funds, and government) will change with the 10%-25% unemployment that they say may be coming.

DJ Ares

I wouldn’t be too happy if AT&T did that to my PDA-phone.

Hopefully they don’t catch on to the trend Verizon has started.

sfmitch

It sure seems like you are making a mountain out of a mole hill.

There was (most likely) an upgrade and your default home page got set to the default page, right? Big deal.

Verizon has a great network but horrible business practices (crippling phones, using the inane VZW anything services).

If you don’t like how they do business, maybe Sprint or AT&T is more to your liking.

John

Considering VZW recently released the 4.5 OS update for the Curve, I’m guessing you ran the update via the desktop software which does restore things to a factory default. What didn’t happen was VZW resetting your device over the air.

I have always recommended unlocked phones on GSM carriers if the service is acceptable to that user and they can accept the fact that higher end phones do cost money. As long as the operators in the US are the primary channels for pushing phones and the fact that people expect not to pay more than $100 for a high end phone, you can expect the operators to oblige, say thank you for the service, and you will do it on our (the operator’s) terms.

I use Verizon because their service in my areas of work and home are ahead of the others. Once AT&T or T-Mobile ramp up their networks, I will switch again, and go back to the solid unlocked phone choices that are out there. In the meantime, I recommend opera mini as a browser for your curve.

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