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Usage Controls
KevinD65
Member

I have been a business customer of Verizon Wireless for many years. I also switched my wife over to Verizon about 18 months ago. We are now considering adding a phone for our 13 year old who is entering Jr High in the fall. Initially, we thought that we would be able to do this by adding a phone to our family plan and enabling the usage controls to manage his voice and text usage. Fortunately, I took the time to read the fine print on this $4.99 "service" as well as the nightmare experiences of many other customers before adding a new 2 year contract to our service and will NOT be adding a line to our account for any of our children until Verizon offers a more effective set of usage controls.

 

From reading the comments of other customers, it is very clear that we are not the only ones who consider the ability to regulate the phone usage of our kids to be a requirement. I have seen a lot of complaints about the shortcomings of the current usage controls, but I don't think I have seen anyone really lay out what they expect, so I will do so here.

 

As a responsible parent, this is what I expect the usage controls to allow me to do:

1) Set AND ENFORCE limits on the number of minutes of phone usage. At minimum I would expect this to be a monthly amount, but a weekly or daily amount would be much better. By enforce, this means that that phone should AUTOMATICALLY stop allowing incoming or outgoing calls when the limit is reached - regardless of the plan or whether it is an in-network or out-of-network call. The only exceptions should be 911 and trusted numbers that we have added to the line. 20 or so trusted numbers should be sufficient. The current approach of notifying the account holder when the limit is reached but then allowing calls to continue is clearly designed only to enrich Verizon's pocketbook rather than allow parents any real control on the usage.

2) Set AND ENFORCE limits on the number of text messages sent and/or received. As with the voice minutes, I would expect at minimum for this to be a monthly amount, but weekly or daily limits would be much better. Again, by enforce this means that the phone should AUTOMATICALLY stop allowing sending or receiving of text messages when the limit is reached - regardless of the plan or whether it is an in-network or out-of-network message. I should be able to control whether numbers on the trusted list are also trusted for text messages after the limit is reached.

3) Set AND ENFORCE limits on the time of day when the phone is used for calls, text messages, and/or data. This schedule needs to be flexible enough to allow variations by day of the week and time of day. For example, a typical schedule might look like block all calls from 10pm-7am 7 days a week; block all calls from 9am-3pm M- F and block all calls from 6-7 pm M-F. By enforce, I mean that, all calls and or texts should be blocked during the restricted times - regardless of the plan or whether it is in-network or out-of-network. In addition, this includes dropping calls in progress when the restricted time is entered. Calls and or texts to and from trusted numbers should be excepted.

 

I am not a cellular network engineer, but I have worked with phones and phone networks long enough to be highly confident that these things can be accomplished with the current technology. In fact most of them are already available in one form or another to the carriers. For instance, Verizon has no problem in stopping a phone on a pre-paid plan from making or receiving calls or sending and receiving text messages when their allowance is reached. Nor do they have any problem in allowing that same phone to make or receive calls or send or receive text messages from Verizon wireless (i.e.. trusted numbers) even after the limit is reached. 

 

My need here AS A PARENT is not only to ensure that my child is using their phone in a way that does not interfere with their education, growth and development, but also to help them learn to responsibly manage their usage.

My need here AS THE ACCOUNT OWNER is to ensure that my child does not engage in usage that will result in excessive charges and require me to terminate their use.

 

I would like it if these features were available at no additional charge, but I would not be opposed to paying a small (i.e.. less than $5) additional monthly fee to add them to selected lines.

 

I'm sure that there will be some individuals who will argue that I am trying to impose un-reasonable limits on how my children use 'their' phone. They are of course entitled to their opinion and may raise their children as they see fit so I won't waste my time arguing with them. I on the other hand do not choose to abdicate my responsibility as a parent and consider this to be a vital part of that responsibility. I consider this technology to be a valuable resource and wish to allow my children to use it to its maximum potential within the limits I, as their parent, believe are necessary for their safe growth and development.

 

I don't know how closely Verizon monitors these forums, but I hope they take note of my comments as I will NOT be adding a line to our plan for any of our kids until features that meet our requirements are in place. I would also hope that other parents - especially those who have been considering adding a line to their plan for their kids - would add their comments here. Perhaps if we make enough noise - both online and with our checkbooks -  someone at Verizon will wake up to the fact that we need some real usage controls.

Labels (1)
Re: Usage Controls
kunkelgw
Member

Excellent points and my feelings exactly!  I can enlist those types of controls on my personal computer and also the one utilized by my children.  I always tell my children that unless THEY are the ones working and paying the expense, they do not have a VOTE and I am their parent not best friend.  These types of controls are another lesson in budgeting services and no child is too young to learn.

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Re: Usage Controls
LeonardM
Member

@Kevin

 

The new upgraded usage controls do just what you ask, go have a look. They added voice call stops last week.

 

so the time restrictions and limit controls will now function as you desired:

 

School’s Out: Verizon Wireless Offers Many Ways To Monitor And Control Kids’ Cell Phone Use

 

Media Contact Info

Tom

{edited for privacy}

 

06/16/2010

BASKING RIDGE, NJ — The end of the school year means more time for vacationing students to send and receive text messages, surf the mobile Web, play mobile games and make calls on their cell phones. But, with a few easy tips and tools from Verizon Wireless, it doesn’t have to mean unexpected higher bills for their parents.

Monitor and track your family’s wireless usage – Don’t wait for your monthly statement to see how many messages your children are sending – check the numbers anytime through My Verizon. Available online and on Verizon Wireless handsets, My Verizon provides 24/7 access to all billing, payment and account-related information, including usage amounts.

Not near a computer or just want to get a quick idea of what your family’s usage has been? You can always get up-to-the-minute usage information on your phone by dialing #646 (or #MIN) [Send] to receive a free text message with current airtime usage.

Block it before they purchase it – Prevent potentially unwanted purchases of data products, including ringtones, ringback tones, games and applications, by putting a block on the account. Various blocks are available at no charge and can be set through My Verizon.

My Verizon is available to all Verizon Wireless customers at no cost. Find My Verizon online at www.verizonwireless.com/myverizon.

Verizon Wireless also offers Usage Controls to help parents manage and monitor different aspects of their children’s wireless use. Usage Controls are available on most handsets at a monthly cost of $4.99 per line.  Features include the ability to:

Set voice and messaging allowances – No need to exceed your plan minutes or texts just because your daughter likes to use her phone. Usage Allowances allow you to set limits for voice minutes and text messages that can be used during a billing cycle. If the limit is exceeded, the account owner will be notified.

Sign up to receive free text alerts when a family member nears or reaches their limit – You’ve set voice and messaging allowances for your kids; now make sure they don’t go over them. Receive a text alert before and when the limits are reached, so you can take action before any overage charges kick in.

Designate specific times of the day when family members can call, message or use data on their cell phones – While you’re at the office, you don’t want to waste time worrying that your son is using his phone all day. So don’t! Limit and control your child’s use of his cell phone during a certain time of day or day of week using Time Restrictions.

Create lists of blocked phone numbers to prevent unwanted calls and text messages from being sent or received – If a certain number becomes a problem, block it. Blocked Numbers in Usage Controls are phone numbers that are restricted from calling or messaging your child and from receiving calls and messages from your child at any time. You can also designate trusted numbers so calls and messages can get through to your child, and 911 will always work.

Customers can sign up for and update Usage Controls through My Verizon. For more information on Usage Controls, visit www.verizonwireless.com/usagecontrols.

For more information about Verizon Wireless, visit www.verizonwireless.com.

About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless operates the nation’s most reliable and largest wireless voice and 3G data network, serving nearly 93 million customers. Headquartered in Basking Ridge, N.J., with 81,000 employees nationwide, Verizon Wireless is a joint venture of Verizon Communications (NYSE, NASDAQ: VZ) and Vodafone (LSE, NASDAQ: VOD). For more information, visit www.verizonwireless.com. To preview and request broadcast-quality video footage and high-resolution stills of Verizon Wireless operations, log on to the Verizon Wireless Multimedia Library at www.verizonwireless.com/multimedia.

 

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Re: Usage Controls
bhmwynns
Member

I just added Usage Controls for one of my children and they are functioning (poorly) as described in the first post.  Has Verizon indeed updated Usage Controls to limit minutes, time of day and messaging regardless of whether "in network" or "non-billable"?  The controls as is do not achieve much of anything in the way of Parental Control.  If I have used time of day restrictions to block all but 15 minutes of the day, why is the phone still able to make and receive calls and messages?

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Re: Usage Controls
LeonardM
Member

@bhmwynns

 

It is hard to say.

 

What is the time of day restriction? Which days of the week is the restriction for?

 

What type of device does your child have?

 

Are the calls and messages received from trusted numbers?

 

Thanks

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Re: Usage Controls
KevinD65
Member

@LeonardM

 

Thanks for the update Leonard, but a careful read of this  Press Release shows pretty clearly that this 'updated' service still does not meet the basic requirements that I outlined about. For instance, under Set voice and messaging allowances it specifically states "If the limit is exceeded, the account owner will be notified." and then below that under Sign up to receive free text alerts when a family member nears or reaches their limit it says "Receive a text alert before and when the limits are reached, so you can take action before any overage charges kick in." (emphasis added).

 

I, like most of the other parents here, am a busy person and do not have time to call Verizon or log onto a website to update the calling plan or suspend service on a phone each time one of my kids exceeds their limit. Furthermore, from what is presented here I'm not even sure that there is a way to block all incoming and outgoing calls and/or text messages other than to/from authorized numbers. 

 

As I explained above, in order to effectively enforce the parental imposed limits, the phone need to AUTOMATICALLY stop incoming and outgoing calls, texts, and data. I see nothing in this latest marketing piece that suggests this to be the case. 

 

I have generally been satisfied with Verizon and its services over the years, but this sure makes it seem like Verizon it placing corporate profits (i.e. more billable calls, etc.) above the legitimate needs of its subscribers.

 

 

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Re: Usage Controls
rrutl
Novice

     Hello KevinD65 I have feeling that when it comes to usage controls, that VZW will not 'help' us avoid overages, as these 'revenues' account for a significant amount of their profit. Who among us has forgotten about the past episodes where phones would accidentally or inadvertently be triggered to connect to the internet,this was caused by phones having hotkeys programmed to achieve this function. Once we all realized this was happening and that it was creating additional charges on our bill, we protested, hence their 'new' mandatory 'minimal' data plan required for all 'feature' phones. I among others resisted so strongly, that they removed it from my account charges, but continued to charge many,many people simply because they accepted it and did not push back. This charge simply attached itself to your plan when you activated the phone, you had to call in and demand its removal. Anyway, (I somewhat digress) my point it that VZW will never make it easier for us to restrict activity that protects us from overages (added charges) that is not in their benefit. Instead we are and should be the master of that. VZW made millions before people realized the inadvertent data hook ups and any other form of overage they can profit from will be allowed. Again the burden falls on us to monitor, and that is why I have complained that their initial opening page on My VERIZON DOES NOT SHOW USAGE DETAILS AS IT ONCE DID. And they have yet to fixit

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Re: Usage Controls
verizonmoderator1
Moderator
Moderator

<This thread will now be locked due to its age.>

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