Your Friendly, Price-Gouging Cell Phone Data Provider

This is sort of relevant, because it involves an incident that I recently experienced with an application on my Android phone.  Android runs the Linux kernel, so this is peripherally a Linux issue.

I started having problems with Good for Enterprise – Android v1.7.1 yesterday.  Good is a corporate PDA email client often used by corporations, such as the one that I work for.  I noticed that my inbox had stopped updating, and that I could no longer send mail from the client.  I had my admin reset my account and reset my pin, and I uninstalled Good completely from my Android phone, then reinstalled.  I got the setup screen again, and entered my email and pin, but this time I got an error code:  An unknown error occurred. (Error: 0x90047).  I did some searching and discovered a reference which suggested that I needed to call Verizon and request that feature code 73666 be added to my data plan.

I thought to myself,  I have a $30 unlimited internet data plan, but if Verizon wants me to request this feature in order to use the Good client, ok.  I guess.

I called Verizon and mentioned the feature code 73666. The friendly account representative initially said I'd have to upgrade from the $30 data plan to the corporate data plan for another 15 bucks, but if I would hold for a minute she would verify this.  The same story came back: apparently in order to access the Good server, Verizon now required me to have the more expensive corporate data plan. Because I was using the service on my personal device.  You can guess my level of excitement for paying Verizon even more than I already do just for the pleasure of my workplace.

My coworkers on Sprint with Android don't have this issue. If there are any other Verizon/Android/Good users out there who have experienced their Good email service being silently turned off, you might want to check in with your friendly, price-gouging data provider.

______________________

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Other oddities

Anonymous's picture

For some reason, VZ doesn't block Good for iphone. Just android. I'll enjoy the iphone access while I can.

Also, my co-workers who have android tablets with 3G service cannot access Good through wifi! Somehow VZ can block the tablet's wifi access, even though the home ISP is not VZ. I guess they can set a flag on the tablet to block "good" even through wifi. Weird.

Finally, Good is a terrible email client. Often crashes, mixes up contacts together, slow response. They have managed to convince corporate IT people that it's more secure than Exchange. Since the IT people care more about security than usability, they will then choose good. But seeing how the visible parts of it are terrible, it seems likely that the invisible parts like security are also buggy.

The bad part is that all the

Anonymous's picture

The bad part is that all the terms and conditions come into play only once you’re already signed up with a contract. It’s frustrating, and why do they behave so cheap.

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Same Problem... Same Feature Code.... Still Doesn't Work

ShawnFromNYC's picture

I have exactly the same problem as the original post. Same error message. Same carrier. I added the corporate data plan online, and called to have feature code added (which they said they did). I re-installed Good.

It still gives me the same error code. Why can't this stupid thing just work?

I was thinking on buying

Advantix For Dogs's picture

I was thinking on buying Android v1.7.1 ...
maybe later after hearing Doug story..
i'm kind a new here..:-)

Your Gift for Your beloved Dogs in 2011 : Advantix For Dogs

David Pogue from the NYT has

Scott Crosson's picture

David Pogue from the NYT has repeatedly documented Verizon's various stunts like this. It's enough to keep me away from them. I've been pretty happy with Sprint, they don't even seem to care (or notice) when I run Android on what was originally a WinMo phone.

TOS Revisited

phoneyfarmer's picture

Sidestepping most of the "issues" in the other TOS thread, I appreciate the frustration with the "unlimited" data not really being unlimited. Like it or not, all residential data services have similar wording. Typically, the providers only enforce this provision when capacity becomes an issue. You may recall similar incidents in the dialup days and occasional incidents in the broadband era. It is frustrating, but the carriers are trying to provide reasonable accommodation to all users. As most here should appreciate, bandwidth demands of enterprise use are, on average, significantly higher than that of residential use.

Rather than flame Verizon for trying to provide equitable access to all its users, why not ask your company for a stipend to cover, at least, the up charge? Surely, it saves them money versus providing you with a corporate device.

Flaming

Doug.Roberts's picture

Thanks, but it's not my company's fault that Verizon has a fee structure that surpasses those of all other carriers. However, I probably would not have chosen to flame Verizon had they not chosen to silently turn my service off without warning. That behavior was unacceptable.

Tighter Regulations Needed

Doug Morris's picture

Cell phone companies have become much like credit companies — always trying to get more money at the expense of the customer. There really needs to be tighter regulations.

Thx, good info to share

jmcdermo's picture

Thanks for sharing this info -- it serves as a nice reminder that even a died in the wool Linux bigot like Doug has to interact with the outside world sometime using propriety SW, subject to the whims of corporations. The environment at my work is migrating to Exchange and offering the Good technology solution as an enticement for the Linux and Unix users to make the move. It'll be nice to know in advance what Verizon may do to us if we try to use our personal devices.

Blast from the past

Doug.Roberts's picture

Thanks for the comment, John. It's nice to hear from one of my old LANL colleagues!

--Doug

Some of you folks are too conditioned to accept "the rules"

Anonymous's picture

Maybe there is a TOS section that says he shouldn't have been doing what he was doing.

If so, the TOS is crap, even if he did agree to it.

Data is data is data.

Does it cost Verizon more to provide 10MB of data under his unlimited plan when that 10MB is between his phone and his corporate email than if it's between his phone and Gmail? No.

Is he using a phone that is paid for by his company specifically for corporate business (and where the Corporate plan might bring a better SLA than the residental plan)? No.

There's absolutely no reason that they should care where he's sending and receiving data from. This is like my cable provide telling me I can't tunnel into my employer when I work from home because I only have a residential plan.

It's CRAP, and since the US .gov seems hell bent on killing competition (see ATT + Tmobile) then we need to do the only other thing we do -- remind them that many of their users are savvy enough to fully recognize the shafting they are giving us -- and to recognize competing comapanies with policies and pricing that are reasonable and logical, not transparent money-grabs.

Vote with your dollar, this

Anonymous's picture

Vote with your dollar, this is the only "Regulation" that is needed. No need for more government screw-ups. If you don't like the way a company is doing business, use another company.

Nice sentiment

Doug.Roberts's picture

But unrealistic: Verizon is the only carrier that reaches my home out here in the country north of Santa Fe, NM.

--Doug

Check with your IT dept about tunneling

MadTom1999's picture

If you can access a port then you can do just about anything with tunneling.
I used to use ProxyTunnel to break through corporate firewalls but I guess you could just use it to access your 'unlimited Internet data plan'.

Tunneling

Doug.Roberts's picture

I do use a "Corporate Proprietary" version of Juniper's Network Connect on my home and laptop machines to tunnel in to the corporate email server. My company disallows tunneling in from a cell phone. "Good" is their cell phone email solution.

--Doug

This is how the conversation went

Doug.Roberts's picture

So, after I had finally agreed to submit to Verizon's price gouging policy, I called them and asked, "Could you please add feature #73666 to my data plan?"

The friendly Verizon representative said, "Sure."

Pause.

"Oh, I see that this feature requires that you upgrade to our Enterprise Unlimited Data Plan, which is an additional $15 per month."

"Really?" I said. "Why is that? I already have an unlimited $30 per month data plan."

"Well, your plan is incompatible with the Good service."

"Incompatible, how?"

"Well, it's ... just incompatible."

"You mean that you want to charge me an additional $15 to upgrade to another unlimited data plan that offers the same service as my current unlimited data plan, right?"

"Well, yes."

"Please tell your management that we are on to your price-gouging tactics. Thank you!"

Did you read the TOS?

Anonymous's picture

I'm almost positive the $30/mo data plan explicitly denies using it to access corporate email services like Exchange. It's possible that they aren't price gouging you, but rather they caught you mis-using the service against the TOS that you agreed to when you signed up.

I'll be the fist to agree, though, that Internet access prices are higher than they need to be because of a lack of competition.

Corporate Exchange Access via the Web

RO's picture

I thought the $45 plan was for some sort of explicit "push" arrangement between Vzw and corp Exchange servers ala Blackberry, but not sure.

Anyway, my employer has set up Outlook Web Access (OWA), so we can access from just about any kind of browser however it connects (unfortunately it works best with Internet Exposer, but is still usable with Firefox/Chromium/etc).

HTH

Not an option

Doug.Roberts's picture

My company has it's mail server tucked away behind a fire wall that can only be accessed via SecureClient.

--Doug

FWIW, we do have to use

RO's picture

FWIW, we do have to use SSL/HTTPS, and authentication against our Active Directory ID is done.

The point is that it does not require any "special access" plans/upgrades with any cellular carrier beyond standard SSL Internet access.

Show me the proof

Doug.Roberts's picture

I'd have to have that proven to me. There was absolutely no mention that my $30 "unlimited" data plan excluded the use of the "Good" email client on my own personal cell phone. No mention made of this when I signed up for the data plan.

And to top it all off, Verizon's action of silently turning off my Good mail access with no warning was unethical.

--Doug

I completely agree with

Anonymous's picture

I completely agree with grandparent post. I'm pretty sure I remember seeing corporate email as a difference between the personal data plan and the corporate data plan. I somehow doubt that you took the time to read the T&C when you signed your contract.

In addition, do you really think VZW is going to keep a list of every app that gets created that may require the user to change their plan? What if this was an app that was out for one day, would you complain about that too and claim that it should have been on VZW's list? Should there be a list of any app that could cause you to download enough data that you would exceed the silent cap? And at that point, would you again complain that the list is too long and it's impossible to read through them all?

Your original blog post was written in poor taste. This isn't about Linux, this is about your gripes with your cell provider, and as such I will be discontinuing my RSS subscription to your site. I know you won't miss me, but in the future try not to let your personal problems interfere with your business.

Your Opinion

Doug.Roberts's picture

You are of course entitled to your opinion. However, you seemed to have missed the part about Verizon's action of silently turning off the Android "Good" app.

The mail client was working previous to having updated my phone to the latest version of the app. As the reports that are emerging about Good silently failing to work on Android devices demonstrate, this is a serious failure on Verizon's part to inform their customer's of a change in policy with the latest version of Good. Prior to v1.7.1 Verizon had no issue with their customers using the email application on their personal equipment.

And you seem to have missed

Anonymous's picture

And you seem to have missed the part that this article is irrelevant to Linux. If you intend to use this site as a sounding board for your non-Linux related gripes, please consider me another reader lost.

Actually it is relevant.

venomfang81's picture

Actually it is relevant to linux as "Good" in this case is running on an Android mobile device; that and android is basically a linux distro. The service provider in this case Verison; should have stated in there terms of Use and Service of the plan that connecting back to a corperate email server violates the plans terms. This is the way things were done in the era of small startup ISPs; they would through in these wierd terms and when someone tried running a webserver or email server off them they ran into the ISPs firewall. As far as I'm concerned data is data; if they want to have different plan types do it realistically by limiting the max bandwidth rate to the device and put a cap on the amount of data that can be transfered each month. That's how most providers here in Canada do it; at least Bell, Telus, and Rogers.

Linux Related. Not in the least.

Kevin Bush's picture

The problem Doug is ranting about here has nothing to do with the android operating system or its linux underpinnings. This is a rant about Verizon and price gouging.

I think a more interesting aspect of this type of vendor behavior is the fact that closed source, proprietary software (like exchange) allows this flavor of price gouging to occur in the first place.

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

Almost, but not quite

Doug.Roberts's picture

It has something to do with how a provider (Verizon) is able to remotely disable an application running under a Linux distribution (Android) silently and without warning.

My gripe is more about that than the price gouging factor.

Although the price gouging does in fact piss me off.

--Doug

Well...

Kevin Bush's picture

Again I just don't see the connection here. "Good" is a closed-source mail app that also runs on Windows Mobile and Symbian. The fact that your phone has a linux based kernel is simply coincidental.

What is most interesting here is what users give up when they use closed source software and corporate controlled networks. We all do it, and often it's a necessity; but what we are giving up in exchange (pun intended) needs to be examined and discussed. Channeling my inner RMS...

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

Linux-OS users are generally

Dann's picture

Linux-OS users are generally more tech savvy than users of more mainstream OS's. Having an ISP sleight a program based on draconian, corporate principals is something everyone should know about, but it generally falls to savvy users to understand and distribute the information.

There is a connection in that the author is communicating to more savvy users that there are potentially illegal / unfair practices going on and it is fair to say that linux users are most familiar with getting this short-end-of-the-stick.

By saying his experience is related to Linux, it's not just the physical hardware and software running on his phone, it's the ideology and psychological similarities between other linux-based os users that he is communicating.

Most people would be pissed off, but not all would make the connection with the technology and actual costs associated.

Verizon has always been bad for this sort of thing.

Closed, open, so what?

Doug.Roberts's picture

And I don't see the significance that you seem to be placing on the fact that Good is a closed-source app. It happened to me on an Android device, that's why I wrote about it.

Your problem is not with android...

Kevin Bush's picture

Your problem has nothing to do with android or its underlying linux based kernel. The problem you experienced was due to Verizon's policies on enterprise exchange based communications. So we are back to my original statement that this rant is not related to linux.

Not that it's that big of deal either way. I love Linux Journal and will continue to read linuxjournal.com despite the occasional off topic rant. ;-)

Kevin Bush is a Linux systems admin, dad and book-lover who spends far too
much time tinkering with gadgetry.

I agree. They may not have

Anonymous's picture

I agree. They may not have even disabled the app on the phone. Could just be blocking a port. File a complaint with the FCC and the public service commission if you are not happy.

Lonely Are the Brave

Doug.Roberts's picture

To paraphrase one of Kirk Douglas' more famous lines:

"Well, about every six months, I figure I owe myself a good drunk^H^H^H^H^Hrant. It rinses your insides out, sweetens your breath and tones up your skin."

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