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Monday, March 12, 2012

Verizon MiFi Woes

We became very frustrated.  Our Internet connection had become a lifeline for us, from news, email, travel directions, and of course, blogging.  As we traveled to the great American Southwest this winter, we had poor to non-existant coverage with our tried and true Sprint aircard that we've used with great success for the last six years.

In the Southwest, Sprint's coverage is spotty, so we decided to upgrade to a Verizon MiFi while we were at Quartzsite this past January.  Even with Verizon's much vaunted great coverage ("Can you hear me now?"), it wasn't all that great.



We figured that the slow Verizon service was due to the tens of thousands of RVers around Quartzsite during the January RV and Gem shows all trying to get online.

After eight days, we received an email from Verizon saying that we'd already used up 2.5GBs of our 5GB monthly plan.  Huh?  We had a similar plan from Sprint and we never exceeded 3GB in an entire month.

I need to 'splain our confusion.  We don't game live on line, nor do we stream music or videos or watch TV on line.  No downloading movies.  Just some net surfing, blogging and emails.  At this point we figured it was a fluke.

A couple of days later, another email arrived stating we were at 90% of our 5GBs.  Not being familiar with Verizon and wondering if maybe the times we had a 4G connection, maybe that was eating up our plan.  So, along the way, we stopped at a Verizon store and upped the plan to 10GBs/month.

Imagine our surprise when we received the bill for our first month with Verizon and they said we used 11GBs!  Some calls to Verizon resulted in some really (really) poor customer service.  Needless to say, they couldn't explain our overage, and instead of the old "The Customer is always right", they became very accusitive.  In no time, we dropped them, returned our MiFi device and switched back to Sprint, with a new upgraded MiFi unit.


We had some grief with trying to even get a copy of our Verizon contract, at the RV show, the rep couldn't print off the contract, but promised to email it to me.  Along with the contract was to be a form to send in for a $50 rebate.  Repeated calls to Verizon and stopping in to six Verizon stores along our way to South Carolina were all in vain, no one could help us get the documents.

Finally, a call ending up with a supervisor resulted in getting in touch with the original salesman, who adamently claimed he had emailed us the contract and rebate form.  When I asked him what my email address was, he looked back at his emails and read off the address.  He got it wrong.  He then became very apologetic and wanted to do anything to help us out and keep us as a customer.  Sorry, way too late.

Looking into the huge amount of GBs we used, and doing a search online as suggested by our IT guru pal, Jeri, I researched Verizon MiFi hacking.  Seems that this unit is one of the easiest and most widely hacked devices on the market.  Their password is easily defeated by a hacking program.  I found step by step directions on how to do it.   That explains the overages on our plan.

We didn't know that we should have changed the device name and used our own password with the Verizon MiFi.  We made it too easy and got hacked.  We did get a little credit back on our bill from Verizon, but we're done with them, it still was an expensive mistake.  Live and learn.

Thanks for visiting and feel free to leave a comment.

30 comments:

  1. Nice to know this, and thanks for sharing.

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  2. I'm not impressed with Verizon either. I was a tried & true AT&T person (in and out of their Cingular days). Because 'Verizon has better service' on the road, we switched almost a year ago in preparation. I am very sorry that we did. I never had problems with service OR customer service with AT&T. Now if we wait until our contract is up with V, we'll have data limits if we switch. **sigh**

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  3. that is just nuts...theres no customer service in the world anymore it seems...we just switched our air card to a verizon stick..so far so good I watch my usage after every session..I'm prepaid...good luck !!!

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  4. that is just nuts...theres no customer service in the world anymore it seems...we just switched our air card to a verizon stick..so far so good I watch my usage after every session..I'm prepaid...good luck !!!

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  5. Wow, i thought of going with verizon and glad now that i didn't, what a mess. I find all those things so confusing anyway, that would have put me way over the edge :)

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  6. So very sorry for your experience with Verizon. We have been with them for so many years that we are grandfathered in so many different ways and have ALWAYS been happy with their customer service.

    This seems to be a thing with everyone...some swear by one company and another person swears at the same company...strange!

    Glad you found something better at Sprint...as for us, we will stick with Verizon!

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  7. life in an RV with crappy internet is not a good thing!..glad you got rid of them and are back with what works for you!!
    Cheers to 'lightning fast' internet always!!

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  8. Amazing. We have had nothing but super service and coverage. Of course there are dead spots as we found in Death Valley. But no service reaches that area and others.

    I'm sorry you had bad luck with them. We really like Verizon. It has served us well.

    Thank goodness there is a plan that is good for you.

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  9. Sorry to hear of your bad experience with Verizon. I have had Verizon for 8 years for cell phones and 3 years for their modem on my laptop. Always had great service and never even came close to using 5GB. I will be upgrading to one of their Mi-Fi systems when we head out full timing in June. Thanks for the tip on the password. I can see how a "neighbor" could tap into your system for free if they were savvy (and dishonest). Hope your new Sprint system works well for you.

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  10. This is VERY interesting information Paul. How did you get out of your contract so you could switch back to sprint?? Was it a 2year or a 5 year? David just switched us from an air card with which I was very happy to a wifi so he could have the non existant and not faster 4G and we have had nothing but trouble with it.

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  11. IT guru, huh? Well, I'm not so sure about that. I'm just glad that you won't have any more surprises when you get your next bill. We still use our cradlepoint routers with our cards and we'll probably stick with them over a MiFi. We have both Verizon and ATT. Every time we think about getting rid of one, we end up without service on the other one. Who knows what we'll do.

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  12. So if I had to look at this story in fairness and with an open mind...

    I would say that while I believe that Verizon probably provided you with poor customer service (because it seems that is the way with ANY cellular service provider), I do not believe that it was Verizon's fault that your account got hacked.

    In fact, if you look at it from Verizon's point of view, how were they supposed to explain your overage when it obviously wan't their fault?

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  13. We have yet to use an air card, but am sure glad to have the hint about changing password. Seems someone might have told you this when you got it. Sorry you did not get someone in customer service who could have figured this out for you. You would think they would not want a dissatisfied customer blogging how the service received!

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  14. Kevin & Ruth,

    Actually, Verizon could explain the overages by running a check of our account and listing the downloads, streaming webbsites, etc. They have access to all that information.

    Instead, they took the position that is was our fault. So we're done with them.

    Sherry,

    We got some money refunded towards our contract buy out, but not the whole amount. It was a decsion to cut our loss and get out while the getting was good.

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  15. We have a Verizon MiFi and since they went 4G, we've had bad service and connections in every respect. We've wanted to cancel the contract and do something different but on this trip through the S.W. coverage has been better. We've been pacified for a while yet. What are you going to get now?

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  16. I'm not real thrilled with the 4G mifi either from Verizon but it works most of the time for us. We haven't had a problem with the 5g - only occasionally come close to 3. Thanks for the info about the password.

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  17. I have heard your pain, many, many times. I am a computer consultant, 30 years now. Internet in campgrounds is always a hot topic. I often find campers broadcasting with little or no security. If I can identify them (sometimes very easy) I warn them, but most refuse to believe it will be a problem. It is not the internet provider's fault if you don't secure your wi-fi signal, as only you can do it. Perhaps they should provide better warnings, but most RV'rs have a trusting nature. I personally use an ATT 4g data card hooked to a Cradlepoint router. When hooking to a 3g area, things are a bit slower when I used to use my 3g card, but 4g is fast, and LTE is very fast. I have traveled across the country many times, many routes, yes there are dead spots, but for the most part I am very happy with ATT, and have always had good customer service. I usually use between 4-7gb per month, yes it costs me $10-$20 more each month when I go over, but with so many downloading movies and TV shows, there has to be something to curb excessive use. And it is true, for every carrier there are good and bad results, sticking with the one you like best is a good idea.
    Journey39n

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  18. Try the Verizon air card! I tried the mi-fi, and gave up on it after a couple weeks. The air card is not as fast as the mi-fi, but it WORKS! I've had a Verizon air card for years and loved it. It was slow, but soooooo reliable! The newer one is faster, and still just as reliable. We travel in a motorhome throughout the midwest and south ( however, no experience out west) and I LOVE MY VERIZON AIR CARD! Great service, too. Also, just got an iPhone from Verizon, and the personal help has been terrific, both over the phone with tech, and in person at Verizon stores. I LOVE VERIZON!

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  19. Sorry to hear about your Verizon woes. I've read quite a few complaints about the Verizon mi-fi and how the 4G is a data hog. We set up our CradlePoint with the highest security level and what we hope is a good, strong password. Our aircard runs off the Verizon network, but isn't with Verizon. Time will tell, I suppose, how well we did in securing everything. Good luck with your Sprint mi-fi ... hope you get reliable service again.

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  20. Thanks for the tip about the password. I assumed the long number on the back of the MiFi was plenty good for a secure password.. naive, I guess. I got it changed this morning first thing!

    We haven't really had trouble with our MiFi, but we frequently do go over our allowed 3G, and we couldn't understand why. Maybe we now have our answer!

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  21. We have been over on our mi-fi every month since we got it. People say you use more data because it's so much faster..hunh? We don't know why. We don't stream anything, don't watch movies. Never were over on our air card..the Verizon people INSISTED the password with the mi-fi was all the security we needed. Now we know better. The mi-fi unit turns itself off now for no reason, willy nilly. Service has steadily gotten worse as far as signal and speed. we're disgusted to say the least! Thanks for the report!

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  22. Well, I guess this Verizon MiFi 4G is a problem. We have it only because our Pantek modem from Verizon kept getting error messages and Verizon said they would send us the MiFi. I truly thought we were getting lucky. Have had it about 3 months now and have my own password set up. We live in the country with no neighbors and do not stream movies or music or anything like that. Still going over the 10G maximum each month and cannot figure out why. Guess it is time to call Verizon and see what is up. Wish me luck. I know that I am not happy at this point.

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  23. Interesting, so my Sprint phone hotspot I pay for will not provide me service on the road? It's 30 a month and this is critical to my work. Please respond as I'm quite interesting in your thoughts.

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  24. I have also found that the ads on so many webpages eat up a lot of bandwidth. They also seem to detect how fast your connection is and load up more if it is faster. Chrome, Firefox and IE all have Adblocking extensions/add-ons, download and enable one and see if it helps. I use Adblock Plus on Chrome.

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  25. We love Verizon ~ but didn't know about the password problem... We will be changing it soon!!!
    Thanks for the info!!!
    Donna

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  26. We changed over to Millenicom. Uses the Novatel U760 aircard thru our Cradlepoint PHS300 secured personal wifi hotspot. Our plan is the 20G, $59.99 a month from checking account, no taxes, no contracts and great customer service and runs through the Verizon towers but don't have to deal with Verizon. Our plan is no longer available on the website but they do show a 50G plan for $69.99 using your aircard. The unlimited plans run through Sprint towers (or did when we were looking).

    Stay Safe

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  27. We had the MiFi 4G joke too and it was horrible. Went back to my Verizon USB stick from them and it works great. My son found an external antenna that we set on top the rig when we're parked and it really boosts the signal when it is marginal.

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  28. well, this is just plain scary. we got a Verizon MiFi in December, and in February we finally made the big jump and cancelled our Hughesnet satellite service here at home. So far, we haven't exceeded our 5 gig. I will have to go figure out how to change the password, however. Since the MiFi is now my only connection to the world at home as well as on the road, and I work on the computer at home, as I said, it is a bit scary. I still have my ATT cell phone, however. The satellite was just too slow for my work connection to function and it works great with the MiFi. sigh again. scary stuff

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  29. How does one change the password on their mi-fi? I have been looking for a way and can't figure it out.

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  30. So there actually is fair Sprint coverage at Quartzsite? I am going to be out there for the first time this winter and need my daily internet fix. I do tend to eat through a lot of data so I'm weary about capped plans, plus I am sticking to prepaid plans. Virgin Mobile (and Boost) is sprint and offers unlimited hotspot on my device (throttled after 3.5GB) which is the best deal out there, it seems. The current RV park I am in out here in Arkansas, is in a pocket of bad data coverage in the middle of a city. I get 1x to 2G speeds. A mile down the road I get 3G speeds. If Quartzsite has good sprint coverage, even 2G, I might be happy with that compared to a 10GB limit with Verizon's Jetpack prepaid ($90) or 20GB with Mellenicom's Verizon plan ($70) with as much data usage as I consume. I guess I will just have to wait until I get there to see how things are though.

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