I'm a very loyal Verizon customer - I have FiOS, as well as 5 Verizon Wireless phones. But I am dismayed at Verizon's public policy of not activating or allowing the use of set top boxes from the "used" market. Yes, of course I understand Verizon's position: they are Verizon's property (forever) even though they typically have been paid for many times over in rental fees and non-return fees. I believe it would be in Verizon's interest to change this policy, and below is a letter I sent to Verizon management about it. I sent it to Roy Chestnutt, VP of Strategy for the company.
Hello, Mr. Chestnutt,
I am a retired software engineer, and in retirement I help people with technical issues.
And one of the big issues I've encountered is the "used" market of Verizon cable equipment (that is, equipment left behind and Verizon compensated by equipment non-return fees).
Verizon's current policy is to never allow this equipment to be used again. I think this policy is counterproductive - and it ignores a huge profit opportunity for the company.
The country is literally awash with this perfectly operational equipment. Allowing people to activate this equipment - at the rate of $5.99 per month that Verizon currently charges for a Motorola Cable Card for a Tivo - would bring in millions of dollars in revenue, and literally cost the company nothing. No cable card, no set top box, and no responsibility for repair or maintenance.
As an experiment - and to learn more about the issue - I recently purchased one of these "aftermarket" cable boxes - a Cisco 335HDC - online for $35. I tested it on my current Verizon cable service, and it works perfectly (according to its internal diagnostics). But - obviously - it cannot be activated, because Verizon will not activate previously used equipment.
Since the company already supports this equipment for its current customers, there would be no extra training or staff. All it would take is the OK from Verizon management to allow a customer to "rent" a cable connection (customer provides cable card) or to rent a compatible cable card (e.g. Cisco PowerKEY).
I know this would be a philosophical policy change. Currently anyone attempting to use this "aftermarket" equipment is treated by Verizon Customer Service as if they are criminals dealing in stolen property. I am certain most people who attempt to do this are not aware that the equipment is considered to be Verizon property (the one that I bought has no Verizon property tag).
I hope that this policy can change. It would create a large, continuing revenue stream for Verizon, and a public relations coup. Otherwise this perfectly good equipment will never be used and will be destined for the electronic trash heap, and a great source of revenue for the company will have been lost.
You missed a very important fact (may have touched on it).
But any FIOS equipment (set top boxes) on the "used" market is considered stolen property. So not all of them have been aged out. Not sure if the lost equipment fees (if they ever recover these either) cover the complete loss.
Rental fees not only cover the cost of the hardware (which is hundreds of dollars) but maintenance (they do fail and need to be replaced) plus software (upkeep and upgrades). So they are never really paid off.
Cable cards only require maintenance. No software upgrades and very little support.
Plus now having to keep track of which equipment is owned and what is rental. Imagine the customer service nightmares of people calling in saying their box doesn't work. And then being told, sorry you own it, no help. How many people would then get upset?