New Verizon Ad Hopes To Make You Forget It Throttled Firefighters For No Reason

from the modern-day-antihero dept

A few weeks back we noted how Verizon found itself in hot water for throttling the cellular connections of California firefighters as they battled one of the state’s biggest wildfires on record. There was nothing surprising about the story, which again highlighted how cellular carriers advertise their connections as “unlimited,” then impose all manner of arbitrary and confusing restrictions. Quite often, the restrictions are imposed simply to help Verizon make even more money (like when Verizon effectively banned HD video on its network, then hit its “unlimited” users with charges if they wanted the videos to display as the origin source intended).

In the case of the California firefighters, Verizon repeatedly throttled the connection being used by firefighters mobile command center for seemingly no reason and in violation of Verizon’s first responder policies. When the firefighters complained to Verizon, the company’s first reaction wasn’t to immediately understand the gravity of the situation and fix it — it was to try to upsell them to a more expensive plan during an emergency. As you might expect, Verizon’s friends at the FCC saw absolutely no problem with any of this.

Hoping to move beyond the scandal, Verizon has released a new ad spotted by Ars Technica in which the company professes its adoration for first responders, and pats itself on the back for heroically helping heroes be, you know, heroic:

Verizon was so keen on people adoring it for its adoration of firefighters, the company issued an accompanying press release attempting to drive the point home by proclaiming that “what we do saves lives.” Verizon and AT&T have been trying to nab taxpayer funds as part of a bid to shore up nationwide cellular emergency networks after said networks did a face plant on 9-11. This being AT&T and Verizon, those efforts have gone just about as well as you might expect. But Verizon pretty clearly felt the need to try and shore up its image after its assault on net neutrality and first responder fiasco earlier this year.

Unsurprisingly, Verizon was forced to shutter the comments on its YouTube video after the public reception was… frosty. The video received more than 20,000 dislikes and was delisted by Verizon in a little under 24 hours after the video was posted. Reddit has also been having a good time lambasting the ad:

“They just recently hid the likes/dislikes, disabled comments, AND made the video Unlisted. LOL.

I think they got the point.”

It’s clearly not the reception company executives expected, highlighting again how they’ve under-estimated the prolonged backlash to the company’s frontal assault on net neutrality (which, you’ll recall, another Verizon video insisted never actually happened).

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Companies: verizon

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Comments on “New Verizon Ad Hopes To Make You Forget It Throttled Firefighters For No Reason”

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34 Comments
Gary (profile) says:

Fired Fighters

Verizon also fired most of their qualified field techs, slammed the brakes on FIOS rollout in favour of advertising, and uses krappy untrained contractors for callouts. They suck, have little competition or desire to innovate – the bottom line is enriching the top execs/stockholders at the expense of quality, service, and long term health.
Just saying. 🙂

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: stockholders

On what basis? That would be a frivolous lawsuit. SCOTUS has said that police have no responsibility to protect people; firefighters probably don’t either. Insurance companies are another step removed.

Even for Verizon stockholders it would be highly questionable. Not every stupid decision of a company you invest in deserves a lawsuit; sometimes you just sell.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: stockholders

There is no precedent establishing that firefighters have no responsibility to protect people, so we need that first. (See also how courts claim your rights were not violated b/c no court ever put cops on notice that making you drop your pants & lean over for a finger probing on the street in full view of the public & we’re giving you a charge for indecent exposure as well!)

Insurance companies are not beloved, Verizon is not beloved, it seems like a legal win for the rest of us. We’ll get to watch and be in that place where you have no idea who to root for.

Verizons actions put citizens & firefighters in danger.
While blaming the property damage on them might be a stretch, if they could show that property was lost b/c they were unable to issue orders due to the throttling… maybe.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 stockholders

Probably is not a very good point upon which to base conclusions.

That wasn’t the basis for the conclusion. Let’s say firefighters do have responsibility to people. What responsibilities does Verizon then have to them (remember, we don’t need to regulate wireless providers), what responsibilities do they then have to insurance companies, and what damage resulted?

If anyone should sue Verizon, how about the firefighters? Not some entity 2 hops away. "Imagination" rarely leads to reasonable and successful lawsuits.

Some times the stockholders vote the C-suite stupid decision makers out.

Sure, good idea. It’s not hard to buy stocks these days; for some $55 anyone can propose a shareholder resolution to kick them out. The trick would be to convince the other investors they’ll suffer financial harm from the current guys. They are creating a generation of people who hate them and would leave given the chance, and they are fighting against the seemingly-inevitable internet-only future (ie: no cable TV or non-IP phones).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 stockholders

you think law suits make sense and are based upon rational thinking.

Why do you believe that? I was saying this lawsuit wouldn’t make sense. It would join the parade of other nonsensical, quickly-dismissed lawsuits which Techdirt makes fun of on a weekly basis. Try it if you like, but subtitle it "for entertainment purposes only".

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

17 years and we can’t manage a nationwide network to protect us, but we’ve shredded the Constitution & the rights and freedoms we all “enjoy” in a vastly expanding theater production sucking up more cash & destroying more rights.

Want to have some fun?
Suggest to the media that in 17 years the telcos have taken a ton of cash for the network that doesn’t actually exist yet. That if we had a terror attack today we’d be worse off than we were on 9-11. Perhaps instead of demanding we let TSA screeners feel up small children & yank prosthetic’s off of travellers just to be ‘safe’, perhaps we should focus on the proven loss of life caused by not having a network for first responders should the bad happen. Did the telcos just ‘donate’ their way to another hand out of billions with no demand they do anything they promised?

Pretty sure for what was set aside for this network & the USF I could buy a shit ton of Huawei gear and have a massive 5g network covering the entire country in a year…

Anonymous Coward says:

At this point the fact that Verizon hired convicted rapists and paedophiles and sends them ALONE to customers houses to fix equipment has almost become a footnote in their other shitty scandals.

The only way this gets worse is if Verizon scans internet connections for jewish-related google searches and has their modem pump zyklon B into the house.

Toom1275 (profile) says:

Any time we have a disaster, we typically see a real sharp increase in peak demand for cell coverage," and that demand from the general population can degrade wireless service for public safety personnel

Nice little nonsequitur they put in there, as the CA FD tested and found that there were absolutely no service issues with unthrottled devices at the same time and location.

Jim P. (profile) says:

Contracts

It is my understanding the fire department in question had what appeared to be a very low end/low capacity contract for cell services that included a “may be throttled after X’ limit which they hit.

Since I should imagine the throttling is automated, I fail to see how Verizon (in this instance) can be faulted since this was what the FD had agreed and paid for.

There appeared to be a higher tier of service they could have signed up for at any time and any rational person could foresee an emergency department is going to need copious amounts of data in an emergency.

I also note they had neither backup plan nor a second contract in place with a different carrier. One of the simplest rules of disaster planning is to avoid having a single point of failure that will hamper or cripple your operation.

I am not a friend of cellular companies (and I have no connection of any sort with Verizon or any carrier of any sort) but it seems to me that if you want more service, you pay for more service from the get go.

If you think you might need a two ton pickup truck, buy a two ton pickup truck. Don’t buy a one ton and then complain that in an emergency it won’t haul two tons.

This could have been completely prevented by proper prior planning.

Security Guy (profile) says:

Re: Contracts

“It is my understanding ” << It’s neat how, when somebody types that, they expect everybody to be compelled to believe what they are saying.

It is my understanding that Verizon employees intentionally step on puppies.

It is my understanding that Verizon was the second shooter on the grassy knoll.

It is my understanding that I can type this kind of sentence all day long, but that doesn’t make it true.

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