Verizon Tells Cops "Your Money Or Your Life"

Bob Hubbard

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Verizon Tells Cops "Your Money Or Your Life" on Friday May 22, @07:23PM


Posted by Soulskill on Friday May 22, @07:23PM
from the pay-it-forward dept.
Mike writes "A 62-year-old man had a mental breakdown and ran off after grabbing several bottles of pills from his house. The cops asked Verizon to help trace the man using his cellphone, but Verizon refused, saying that they couldn't turn on his phone because he had an unpaid bill for $20. After an 11-hour search (during which time the sheriff's department was trying to figure out how to pay the bill), the man was found, unconscious. 'I was more concerned for the person's life,' Sheriff Dale Williams said. 'It would have been nice if Verizon would have turned on his phone for five or 10 minutes, just long enough to try and find the guy. But they would only turn it on if we agreed to pay $20 of the unpaid bill.' Score another win for the Verizon Customer Service team."
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Carol

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Go beancounters go! :rolleyes:
 

CuongNhuka

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I have a feeling the cops were talking to the wrong people. When I call verizon, the people in the call room hardly know whats going on, I doubt if they could get around the rules set up in the computers.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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When I call Verizon, I'm amazed when I find someone capable of understanding english, or that you can use their service without their crappy software.
 
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Bob Hubbard

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Short version.
My DSL went out last year, for a month. The level 1 and 2 techs, were useless. I finally got a level 3 who didn't tell me my router was toast (and try to sell me one) but who painstakingly walked me through setting it up to work with their "unannounced" recent network changes. The router which 4 "techs" insisted was shot, has worked rock solid ever since. Fix included replacing the wire to my house, the wire from my house to the central office, and telling my router to use the same protocol their software installs on my system. (it's built into the router, just needs the special settings entered in). Also, the techs haven't got a clue what a DNS server is. This is on par with a drill sgt. not knowing which way the bullet goes in the gun. Verizon tech support has been more interested in upselling than fixing problems.

So, them prefering to let someone die for $20, doesn't surprise me at all.
 

jks9199

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In my experience, the Law Enforcement support folks at Verizon (and several other cell providers) are great. But you have to get through to the right people... and I'm not going to assume that the sheriff's department here has the experience and connections to get there unless someone tells them.
 
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But the error isn't with the cops it's with Verizon. Matter of life or death, their techs should know "if someone claiming to be a cop calls, forward them to X immediately.". Simple.
 

Big Don

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Rule #1 of talking to people: Talk to a supervisor! The underlings are usually unable to help you if you need something out of the ordinary OR should you have an address on a street with a weird name...
 

celtic_crippler

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Somehow this doens't surprise me...

I don't think it would have mattered who the carrier was, they all suck "bowling balls through garden hoses."

I guess a man's life ain't worth $20.
 

shesulsa

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But the error isn't with the cops it's with Verizon. Matter of life or death, their techs should know "if someone claiming to be a cop calls, forward them to X immediately.". Simple.

Indeed. I was under the impression that most cell phone companies have this in place. Could be that Verizon does but the tech was poorly trained ... or in a bad mood ... or just doesn't care. Apathy will be the death of us all, I tell ya.
 

theletch1

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Indeed. I was under the impression that most cell phone companies have this in place. Could be that Verizon does but the tech was poorly trained ... or in a bad mood ... or just doesn't care. Apathy will be the death of us all, I tell ya.
Well, I just don't care. ;)

Apathy, I think, would be a great line for another thread in and of itself. Seems everywhere I go I get the "I just don't care" attitude. That a man could be allowed to die because someone at Verizon (or anywhere else) just didn't give enough of a damn to go that extra inch to attempt to help is disturbing AND all too common.
 

Big Don

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The title of the thread reminds me of a quote:
Brigands demand your money or your life, women demand both.
I'll now go run and hide from the angry womenfolk
 

Carol

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After thinking about this, I don't think the fault is with Verizon. The Sheriff was asking for a solution that wasn't going to fix his problem.
 
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Carol

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After thinking about this, I don't think the fault is with Verizon. The Sheriff was asking for a solution that wasn't going to fix his problem.

Here's what I mean by that.

There are two ways that Law Enforcement can try to track someone with a cell phone. One is with GPS. Phones sold in the U.S. default to a GPS signal being transmitted only when the caller makes a 911 call. In some phones (such as the Blackberry) the GPS can be toggled so it is transmitting all the time. Most common use for this is along with a mapping application - it makes for a rudimentary navigational program. So while its mathmatically possible that the phone was transmitting GPS coordinates, its highly unlikely that it was, unless the user himself was specifically dialing 911.

The other way is signal triangulation. A cell phone automatically registers itself with all towers in range. Each tower site can log this registration, along with the signal strength of the phone. When 3 or more towers log a user's phone, the signal can then be triangulated to determine the vicinity of the caller.

What do these two methods have in common?

Neither require the subscriber to be current on their bills. A phone will register with a nearby tower regardless. A subscriber can call 911 regardless (FCC law - all cell phones in the U.S. must be able to call 911 even if the account is in default).

Therefore, what the Sheriff was asking for did not have to be done.

The catch - in order for the Sheriff to find the person, they need to have their cell phone with them, and it needs to have enough of a charge so that it can register with the nearby towers. If the man didn't know his phone was disconnected, and had it charged and with him anyway, then all the Sheriff would need ot do would be to follow proper CALEA channels to get the signal triangulated.

But...if the phone has a dead battery....because the guy knew it was disconnected and didn't bother to keep it charged...then there would have been nothing that Verizon could do to help him.
 

jks9199

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That's a great explanation of some complex phone stuff, Carol...

Unfortunately, what happens is that we cops get understandings of this stuff that are less than complete... I've got a better understanding of some of it than most because of various things I've done, and because I've had to dispatch and learn about the E911 system. And I'm not claiming any deep understanding! Most cops know that a lot of the TV-stuff ain't quite real... but then they see the US Marshals or really sharp dispatchers do impressive stuff in the real world. Also -- the SHERIFF is usually an elected position. So... he may or may not know much police stuff (depends on local requirements; some don't require candidates to be certified or experienced LEOs!)... but they do know how to satisfy constituents...
 

Cryozombie

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then there would have been nothing that Verizon could do to help him.

That hit the nail on the head right there. Its VERIZON. There is nothing they could do... because they are incompetent morons.

Sorry... I have no love for Verizon after being scammed by them and then subjected to continuing harrassment. Morons. EVERY. FREAKIN. ONE. OF. THEM.
 

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