Verizon Fios Internet — connection problems!
Slightly less than a year ago, we had Verizon FIOS Internet service installed. The installation went *relatively* smoothly. About 4 months ago, we noticed our connection didn't seem to be as fast as it was advertised to be, and we were also suffering a very high "failure to connect" that was both intermittent and not apparently dependent on any condition of the local computers. We had a mix of both wired and wireless connections, each computer had a different O/S, and we used different browsers, virus checkers, and firewalls (other than the one built into the router).
I estimate that over 50% of our attempts to connect via a web browser failed. It was not dependent on the browser, nor was it dependent on a time of day, or cables, or the various sites we were attempting to connect to. I could open a browser window and attempt to go to Google, get a DNS server does not exist message, then moments later easily connect to cnn.com. Spamming page reload sometimes overcame the problem.
I attempted to contact Verizon's "24/7" tech support for FIOS, to get some assistance diagnosing the problem. After several tries, I was able to connect to www.verizon.com. This is my first complaint: nearly all of their technical support starts with being able to connect to the Internet. What are those people supposed to do, who do not have a working connection?
Next, that main page was focused on selling me Verizon services. After poking around, I finally found the Support menu. Please login, it said. I did. It forwarded me right back to the page selling all the various Verizon services. Don't need sales, need support... try the Support menu. Ah, yes, all the help in the world if you need to reach a Sales Representative, or a Billing Agent, or to Pay Your Bill Online. What's that? Ah right, support...
Finally, I do find a Support link that actually takes me to, you know, a Support type page. For Verizon Wireless. Don't need Wireless, need FIOS. Search on FIOS... Click link that mentions FIOS support... whoops, back to a page wanting to sell me FIOS services. Back up, back up... Contact Us.
There's contact information for anyone who wants to buy services from Verizon, or anyone who's an investor. There is, in fact, all kinds of contact information for sending Verizon money of one kind or another, but what there isn't, is a FIOS tech support number.
I finally locate the Welcome to FIOS printed materials they delivered with the hardware, and there is a phone number, [protected]. I try calling it. I get the usual automated menus for selecting English or Spanish, then prior to presenting the "departments" menu, it says, "If at any time you wish to speak to an agent, simply say Agent." I say Agent. Nothing, the menu recitation continues. I say "Agent" probably 20 times, I shout it into the phone... nothing, the menu continues. Interestingly, there is no "Tech Support" option on the menu, only a myriad of ways to arrange to send Verizon your money.
Fine, back to the Internet. It's now been nearly 2 hours I've been trying to locate a contact email or phone number to obtain this vaunted "24/7" Tech Support. I try the website listed on the brochure, which is http://help.verizon.net. This doesn't lead anywhere. I go back to the phone number because now I'm out of options. (A Google search had not turned up any useful information for "Verizon FIOS Technical Support"). This time, I bellow AGENT into the phone and though nothing happens during the menu it's supposed to interrupt at any time, it finally comes to the end. I press 000, or perhaps it was ***... either way, somehow, miraculously, I get through to an actual human being!
It's only been nearly 3 hours I've been navigating about in their supposed website. Note that the telephone number supplied on the FIOS documentation for FIOS support doesn't actually lead directly to FIOS support, but to a general Verizon number for any subject relating to FIOS, starting with sales of new service, and not actually containing a link to Technical Support. Note that the website printed on the documentation doesn't actually work at all.
Finally I get to explain to a tech what's going wrong, and we spend a further 45 minutes proving to him that in fact, no, the problem cannot be associated with our software or our hardware or our power supply or our cables. He checks our connection speed (which involves connecting to their website, which fails repeatedly before actually working... when it works, it comes up exactly what it should be. I power cycle both computer and router repeatedly at his instructions, and finally! Finally! He accepts that I'm not doing anything wrong and my analysis of the problem is, in fact, correct. He accepts that I cannot generate an error condition on my end that will reliably repeat the error, since it's *intermittent* (note to Verizon, please please please teach your techs the meaning of the word "intermittent.")
After another half hour of power cycling, rechecking etc - we are now nearly at 5 hours trying to get help, he gets the idea to check the router's firmware and verify it's up to date.
You guessed it. The firmware is the original factory setting, many versions out of date. Why it worked fine for the first two months or so is beyond me, but obviously something on Verizon's end was updated and that was causing all the interruptions. The tech has me download and install the firmware update and all appears to be working much more reliably. I ask him to make a note of all the difficulties I had in just getting "how to contact Tech Support," and he advises me that the site "http://help.verizon.net" isn't the correct one. The correct one is "http://fioshelp.verizon.COM."
I surf over there quickly, while he's on the phone, and sure enough it looks like a support knowledge base site for their FIOS. Interestingly, the Live Chat icon is grayed out as unavailable. (I later determine it doesn't matter what time of day you go there, Live Chat is always grayed out. Why have the button? Beats me). I try searching on anything to do with intermittent service problems and there's no mention anywhere of router updates. In fact, there's no mention there at all about router updates, which clearly are necessary to make the service run correctly. The Send Us An Email option carries the caveat that it doesn't connect you to an agent, but rather is automated to send you links within the Knowledge Base which appear related to your question. Did I forget to mention there's NO mention anywhere of a telephone number to reach a real, breathing, (hopefully) thinking human being?
Ok so here are two new beefs. A) "24/7 Technical Support" promised is apparently only a searchable database that is located at a website different from the one in the printed documentation. B) If router updates are so important to maintaining a healthy connection, yet you cannot search the KB to determine whether any exist, why does not Verizon notify FIOS users of updates when they are implemented, with a link to the update installer?
Oh, and by the way. The problem of intermittent connections has happened again. Same symptoms. My husband and I agree that it looks more like a DNS problem, like for some reason the server is having problems decoding the website addresses sent to it by the browsers. The failure rate now is up around 75-90% of attempts. I went through the same runaround trying to locate tech support, and this time, when I first called [protected], I got a FAX machine prompt. 10 minutes later, using Redial, I got the same "interactive menu" that doesn't allow you to break into the menu and request an agent "at any time." I still cannot tell which combination of * and 0 at the end of the menu gets me to an agent, but I was disconnected or timed out four times. FiosHelp.verizon.com still only leads to the no-real-time assistance KB.
This time the tech support guy was able to see the intermittent fault in action from his end, when the router failed to return his ping. The firmware is up to date, so he's sending out a new router (since it's under warranty). We'll see if that fixes the problem, and for how long.
Four months into FIOS service, and I can honestly say, no high speed internet connection can possibly be worth all this stress involved in JUST trying to obtain real, human, qualified technical support.
Verizon is all about selling you services. Nothing more. I would recommend them to no one.