* Verizon FiOS TV Problems

How to spoil a movie night in one easy step.

Last night, my wife and I decided to watch a movie using Verizon FiOS TV’s video-on-demand (VOD) feature. About an hour into the movie, the audio started breaking up and the video started pixelating. Then this error message appeared:

Error
A problem has occurred with your request. Please ensure that the wires are securely connected to your set-top box. If you continue to experience problems please contact Verizon at (888)553-1555 and specify code (CL-14).”

Yes, happy Valentine’s Day to you too, Verizon. My wife had fallen asleep on the sofa, so I put on some soft music and used the opportunity to help Verizon debug their problem. I’m such a nice consumer.

Incidentally, in the old days, area codes were optional for local calls, which is why they were put in parenthesis. Most area codes are no longer optional, and toll-free area codes never were, so let’s all agree never ever to put area codes in parenthesis again. Mmm-kay?

I called Verizon and waited 18 minutes on hold before getting to speak to somebody. While on hold, I did what every TV consumer would do in the same situation. (No, not go to the bathroom.) I went to the basement, restarted the broadband router (being sure to leave it off for about 20 seconds), came back upstairs, restarted the cable box (ditto), and tried to access VOD again. No luck, same error message. One variant of the error message simply referred to “Error 14” and didn’t include a phone number.

Guess what the Verizon representative suggested? Yup, restarting the router and cable box. So we did, same results.

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein

At this point, my romantic Valentine’s Day evening was toast. Maybe the V-Day Blizzard of ’07 had knocked out a Verizon server? Maybe VOD was getting hammered by all the romantic couples in New England? I asked the Verizon rep where he was. California.

I was on the phone with Verizon for 55 minutes and they were not able to solve the problem. We verified that FiOS Internet service worked fine, Verizon TV worked fine, everything worked except VOD. Sounds like a Verizon VOD server issue to me. Or maybe I was just imagining the problem. Could be either.

I had to ask the rep what Verizon was going to do to make this very patient customer whole. (Hint #1: good companies take the initiative to make their customers happy and actually have their own ideas about how to do this. Hint #2: keeping customers on the phone for 55 minutes to debug a 2-hour movie and then offering no compensation isn’t one of those good ideas.) He asked me to call back and check on the trouble ticket. After my prompting, he said that he’d ask his supervisor about giving a week of service credit (whatever that means). I explained that I had invested 55 minutes of my life on this and was not investing any more time. I said that they could email me to close out the matter. The Verizon rep said he had no means to send email to me. (They should try Verizon FiOS Internet service in California.) “Humor me,” I said, “and enter my email address in the file.” He did. I’m not holding my breath.

Verizon is making Apple TV look better every day.

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139 Replies to “* Verizon FiOS TV Problems”

  1. Why NOT FIOS
    October, 2011

    1) You loose your phone if you loose power or cable.

    Remember the old days when you could loose power, water, or all utilities, but the phone still worked? No longer.

    One of the many things they do not tell you when you order, and may not even during the install, is that your phone is moved from the reliable copper wire to the un-reliable coaxal cable that requires power from your home. If you loose cable you cannot report it. And if you loose power, you loose your phone after 8 hours on batter backup. You cannot call for help or find out what is happening around the neighbourhood.

    2) You loose existing e-mail.

    Another thing they don’t tell you is that if you have existing e-mail service and do not switch to their’s, when you switch your computer to the FIOS internet you can still receive e-mail but can’t send it out.

    It turns out that this is because FIOS has taken it upon themselves to block you from using port 25. It’s to “protect you” from sending spam, even though any port can be used for that and even though 99% of their residential customers have no knowledge of STMP servers, ports, or are unlikely to send spam from home.

    Also without telling you they block port 80 inbound, apparently to “protect you” from having a website on your home computer though gosh knows why. Even the installing technician didn’t know about the blockages and technical support had to escalate the call before the cause of my e-mail problem was discovered.

    If you have always had your own e-mail service that’s using port 25 to send to its SMTP server, it simply stops working. One fix is to pay for a business account instead of a residential one as it is not blocked. (Sic.)

    Another is to switch to FIOS’s SMTP server because it receives outgoing e-mails on port 465. To do this means you have to sign up for their e-mail service whether you did during initial install or not and wether you’ll ever use it or not, and even though you’re normal, receiving e-mail account (the POP service) remains the original service. Part of the sign-up is to require an e-mail address to which they can send their spam. That’s right. The same FIOS that righteously protects the world from your spam requires that you take theirs or you can’t continue using your existing e-mail account that uses Outlook or Thunderbird.

    You will then have to change your e-mail client’s configuration to use their SMTP server, port, protocol, and the account / password you just created. But only for outgoing email, not incoming. If you change back from FIOS, you’ll have to change these back. And if you don’t know how to do any of that, you have to call FIOS technical support to tell you, if you can find that number.

    3) You can have installed, and be billed for, a different configuration from what you ordered.

    Sales office, technicians, technical support, and billing all seem to live in different worlds. I ordered only cable and internet and the technician who came said his order was to install two converters: one “standard” and one “DVR.” I asked if there was any impact on the price and the technician said he’s not allowed to talk about pricing, it’s whatever order was agreed to.

    The next week I received a letter from FIOS saying I’d be billed $125 a month instead of the $95 I’d ordered.. I had to call the business office to straighten out the order and reduce the bill to what had been intended. The DVR converted had been arbitrarily added by Verizon at additional cost with no word to me.

    4) You get contradictory statements about what you get, and FIOS may renege.

    For the initial order I was told I’d get a standard converter free for as long as I lived at that address. This was affirmed by a followup billing letter. When I called to clarify the order and correct the billing they said they that offer was not available to my area and they would not do it: the standard converter would be an additional $10 from the original quote.

    5) You don’t know what you’re ordering.

    When you phone up to order, they try not to tell you what the options are by obscuring them in “packages” and “specials.” You may know that you only want internet, but you can’t have just that. You will also get TV and phone, and they don’t mention the phone.

    They tell you a price for “packages” of “services”, but not that “service” only means internet speed and number of channels, not necessarily that the cable converter is an additional monthly charge.

    Internet speed and sets of cable TV channels are bundled, not separate. You pay for what you don’t want.

    So you can wind up with many HD channels but a converter not capable of HD, and the technician who installs it is instructed not to say anything about pricing so, even if he tells you what is technically what you get no basis for a decision.

    6) Even Verizon doesn’t know what you have.

    Twice I called to have my phone service restored; twice the service desk swore up and down that my phone was on copper wire, not FIOS; twice a service man came and swore up and down my phone was on FIOS, not copper.

    7) You become their delivery boy.

    When I cancelled service I asked if a technician would pick up their equipment. They said no, they’d send me boxes for me to send it all to them.

  2. to all of the customers with vod pixelation and tv works FINE. the first thing you want to do is verify with the verizon that your speed profile for both data and video are programmed correctly from the guys on the inside. if that is correct, the next thing to do would be to have an outside tech check the speeds coming directly out of the ONT and router. If the speeds are correct inside and out, the problem would will be one of three things(the cable box, coax wiring, or a splitter). approach tble in that order and somewhere along the line your tble will be fixed…

  3. I signed up with Verizon thru a door to door salesman. WHAT A MISTAKE. First they lost my order. I should have canceled right then but the salesman hounded me to death and resubmitted my order. I get my first bill for $800.00 dollars because they didn’t put my international calling plan in. Fortunately I kept my order copy. After spending 2 weeks and about 1 hour per day with the reps I finally gave up. I only make payments that add up according to my order. All the incentives the salesman sold me are not available to me. They have the most unknowledgable reps. I don’t know how I will get out of this mess but one thing is certain that I will never again sign up with Verizon. I warn all future customers to be very careful of Verizon door to door sales people because the company couldn’t trace my salesman and the number he gave me doesn’t work.

    SAY NO TO VERIZON

  4. We have had Verizon FIOS for a long time. We had the main battery inside the house. It went bad, and a wire too. Now my main house computer does not work. Verizon said it was our problem; told us to reload all software and if it didn’t work to get a new computer. anyone else have this issue? My wireless works, my CPU does not!

  5. Just got fios package recently…the internet is blazing thusfar no issues, but on demand does indeed macroblock, and I know better than to call customer service…I have the installers cell phone number muahahaha.

  6. I switched from Direct Tv to Fios….. I wish I hadn’t. I can’t stand the remote. Too many button for nothing! You push play and it just keeps on FF. Also, when you try to type up a show title to record, it says that that service is currently unavailable – try later. You CANNOT search for a show by typing in the title about 90% of the time. I’ve only had it for 1 1/2 months and I regret switching. Customer Service sucks, good luck getting an actual person who will listen.

  7. (Time Frame Jan 2009 – present)
    Hello Verizon Fios TV users:
    See if you can follow this:
    I am on my third DVR. I have it connected to a Sony Bravia 46″ Flat screen.
    The problem (with the DVR) which was NEW, started happening six weeks after it was installed.

    First DVR:
    the hd pictures started pixelating and the sound became garbled. After a few hourse with tech support (and that god awful phone in system) the pixelating disappeared. The garbling, random, while watching non recored shows or movies was fixed by “skipping” back. The garbling became very anoying and they replaced the DVR. By the way I have three other digital HD boxes attached to three other tv’s. The DVR problem did not manifest itself in the other boxes. (HINT)

    Second DVR: was a “recondition” unit sent by verizon (and as told it was up to specs.) The unit played flawlessly for quite a few months, then; the DVR kept on “resetting itself.” As told to me the DVR was being reset by the HDMI cable connection from the TV – the problem was occuring with Toshiba, Samsung and Sony TV’s. He said I should install Component Cables, which they sent me. The resetting stopped.

    Then the pixelating and the garbling started. Another call to tech support (Trick here: keep repeating the word “Agent” in to the phone – you get to speak to a live person very quickly.)

    After exhausting diagnosing, he relented and shipped another another DVR.

    The third DVR:
    Arrived, and I called verizon to “set up the box.” I asked whether to use the component cables or the HDMI. The agent said either one was okay. “We” installed the box, and the system played perfectly (I used the HDMI cable – sent back the component cable with the DVR.) Well this lasted six – eight weeks and lo and behold; started getting pixelating and the garble sound thing, as well as my DVR recoding were developing “blank spots.” It seemed the reseting was happening again. Once again I called support, the agent gave me the HDMI compatability THING, and said I should be using component cables. – Currently I am waiting for the component cables which should be here in a few days.

    What have I learned; Motorala makes extremely poor DVR, they are not taking this problem seriously and coming up with a real fix.
    I tried four different HDMI cables (from different manufacturers) as suggested by the agent, these cables aren’t cheap.
    It seems when my contract is up I will probably switch to another digital/hd provider. Verizon is just not up to this technology.
    Having been in the repair business, for every call reported; there are about four that are not called in.

    As I have had this problem with three DVR’s so far, and not one of my digital/hd boxes has been replace – only a blind man can see the problem is with the DVR technology.

    IF WOULD BE NICE IF VERIZON HAD A WIDGET TO REPORT CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS – THAT COCK & BULL ABOUT HAVING THE MOST SATISFIED CUSTOMERS REALLY MUST BE A (Barney Madoff) DREAM.

  8. MY FIRST CALL TO VERIZON WAS NOT VERY HELPFUL, MY SECOND TO A MELISSA WAS HELPFUL TO TURN ON THE TV. SHE PROGRAM THE REMOTE EVERYTHING WAS WORKING FINE EXCEPT THAT THE TV IS IN THE DVD MODE AND WILL NOT CHANGE TO THE REGULAR CHANNELS. I WAS TOLD TO CALL A TV REPAIRMAN. NOTHING WRONG WITH THE TV. SO WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE.?

  9. I called Verizon Tech support with a simple question. I have a new DVD player and needed help with viewing. My questions were not about hooking up the DVD player, it was a simple question on what mode the tv has to be in in order to view the DVD movie and/or how to use the remote. First of all, I could not understand the tech, he had a very heavy accent. He repeatedly told me he cannot help me set up the DVD player. I repeadedly told him I did not require that support. He was not able to help me. He hung up on me. This company should be boycotted or something. I have had other problems with them and their people are rude, and pretty much useless no matter what department you speak with. The only time you get satisfaction is when they are SELLING you their service, after that it’s all down hill.

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