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Verizon is canceling home internet installations during the pandemic

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‘We are minimizing our in-home installation work to critical needs’

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Verizon is canceling scheduled appointments for internet installation and repairs, according to some customers and two Verge reporters with persistent internet issues. The decision potentially leaves Fios subscribers without wired internet at a time when they’re likely relying on it for work and to see friends and family during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are minimizing our in-home installation work to critical needs to keep our employees and customers safe and to reduce the spread of COVID-19,” Verizon says in a support document.

“To reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep our employees and customers safe, we are making every attempt to perform work without going into homes or small businesses and are limiting in-home installs to medical emergencies and critical installations,” Verizon tells The Verge in a statement. Self-install options are also available for “qualified service orders,” the company added.

However, Verizon actually changed the language in the support document sometime on Tuesday morning, according to Business Insider. Previously, the site said that “our technicians will not be able to enter your home or business to install new services or to do repair work.”

Here is the previous language, from a version of the page archived on Monday:

As a result of COVID-19, we are taking precautions to keep our employees and customers safe. At this time, our technicians will not be able to enter your home or business to install new services or to do repair work. Qualified orders will be provided self-install options, or you may proceed with placing an order for a technician-required installation and it will be held for future appointment priority. You will receive notification to select an installation date when we resume operations.

Users on Twitter have reported that their installation appointments have been canceled. One said yesterday that his installation appointment was canceled for internet that he needed for school. In a reply, Verizon said its “technicians will not be able to enter your home to install new services or do repair work.”

Earlier today, Verizon told a customer who said their installation appointment was canceled that “qualified orders will be provided self-install options” and that he would get “future appointment priority” if he opted for installation by a technician.

Some Twitter users have reported that Verizon is telling them that a technician might fix their internet in November, but Verizon said in reply to one of those users that the November date is “incorrect” and is “simply a placeholder for customers in your area.”

Verizon’s new policies have also affected reporters here at The Verge. Science reporter Loren Grush hasn’t had internet from Verizon since April 1st. A technician came to her apartment that day to investigate, but they said an engineering technician needed to look at the problem and potentially do a repair. The engineering technician’s appointment was scheduled for yesterday, but they never showed up. Verizon told Grush there was a new protocol implemented on April 6th that meant technicians could no longer come into her home.

“I tried calling today but essentially was told ‘engineering will call you,’” Grush said in a Slack message. “We have to wait for them to call us, and since this new rule is in place, I’m not entirely hopeful.”

In the meantime, Grush and her husband have been forced to rely on their mobile hotspots for internet, which they need for their work right now. She says she almost hit her mobile data cap, while her husband had to pay to add a higher data cap. “I’m worried [that] once we hit the caps, the internet will be unusable,” said Grush.

Makena Kelly, a policy reporter at The Verge, has also been experiencing problems with her Fios internet since April 1st. A technician was scheduled to check on the problem on April 4th, but the internet returned, so Verizon canceled the appointment, she said in a Slack message. The internet went out again later that day, and Kelly hasn’t been able to reschedule an appointment.

To help customers fix issues that don’t need a technician to visit in person, Verizon tells The Verge that it’s piloting “a virtual assistant tech tool that allows our field technicians to interact with customers via real time, interactive video chat.” The company has not responded to questions from The Verge about how big that pilot is or when it might roll out more broadly.