fios cable boxes

As a techie (software engineer, retired) new to fios, when I got the fios equipment, I quickly found I could purchase my own F1100 router (and knock $10 from my monthly bill) but I also, mistakenly thought I could do the same for the cable box. And thus began a long journey into murky waters. Used cable boxes seemed plentiful on eBay, and seemed very inexpensive. So I bought one, a Cisco 335HDC. There was something rattling around in it, so I opened it up to find the object (it was a bobby pin), but in the process of opening it, I turned the unit upside down, and there, on a label in large letters, it said PROPERTY OF VERIZON. And it had a Verizon cable card in it.

Oops. I had just purchased stolen property. I returned it to my nearest Verizon store, kissing goodbye to the $40 I had just spent. I was a little surprised that I didn't get any kind of reward,. remuneration, or even a thank you note for doing this, but I was not about to confront some random guy from the Bronx to demand my money back.

I did a bit more research. Verizon never sells cable boxes; they are only rented. They are all Verizon property. The only non-Verizon-owned cable box you can buy is one of the very high end ones, like Tivo.

For laughs, just before turning the box in to the Verizon store, I tried a TV connection to the box. It got an interesting error message - "The cable box is having difficulty connecting to the server." It turns out that when the boxes go out of service, Verizon marks their ID in a list that is referred to by their activation software. In other words, they become electronic trash, completely unusable. (And even if this check fails, imagine your embarrassment the next time a Verizon tech comes to your house for service and informs you that you are using stolen property...).

My question to Verizon - why doesn't the company offer a reward (like, perhaps 1000 Rewards+ points) for turning in such equipment. They are expensive, complex technology, and there is a large underground economy in these boxes; I can only assume that Verizon wants the equipment back, even if they have already billed the original customer for non-return. It would have been nice for me to receive some sort of reward for returning it.

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