– Lowell Politics and History

Is there any reason to stay with Verizon? by Marjorie Arons-Barron

This entry is being cross posted from Marjorie Arons-Barron’s own blog.

telephoneThis month has brought several scam calls from a man with an Indian or Pakistani accent claiming to be from the IRS. FTC take notice! Also, proving what a fraud the national Do Not Call Registry is, there have been daily calls from a 406 MT exchange, with caller ID cleverly popping up the name “Evelyn Davis,” – a man wanting me to refinance to lower my credit costs. I’ve tried everything to stop those, to no avail. But nothing has pushed my blood pressure off the charts as Verizon has, with what it has done to our voice mail.

Verizon “upgraded” to a new voice mail system on July 31st. Old voice messages were apparently out in the ether. Trying to retrieve voice mail prompted the message that our access code wasn’t working. We tried to call Verizon service but were repeatedly directed to seek help online. The online effort prompted the internet message that “the page could not be displayed.”verizon-logo

It was back and forth between online and phone customer “service” for hours, and then my husband took over. He got trapped between a page asking for identification of phone number, email and amount of last bill (with all input being rejected) and an automated chirpy avatar offering help, but only to non-germane questions.

Finally, he managed to get a simple voicemail message activated so we retrieved two weeks of messages. Then we tried to set up the sub mail-boxes, so we each would have a password-controlled mailbox. The Verizon operator whose help we sought explained that tech support can be different for western and eastern parts of the country, and, oh goodie, we had reached someone in Dallas. The mailbox systems, he explained, were different for east and west regions. He was useless for someone in Boston.

The next day we went back to trying to follow unclear instructions to set up sub mailboxes. In the process, our entire mailbox access crashed. If you’ve called us, we’ll never know. Back to tech support. This time we were dealing with a woman in Tijuana, Mexico. She tried and tried to reboot our phone. No luck, but, she said, especially since tech support for the eastern part of the country was now closing for the day at 5 PM. She’d have someone higher up call “tomorrow.” If they don’t, she advised, call tech support again.

When they didn’t call, we did and were told on Thursday the matter would be repaired by end of day Friday. Friday came, no call and we’re told by another Tijuana operator to wait until Monday, because, she said, tech support was unavailable over the weekend. Other operators, presumably higher up, said the same thing.

Monday came, no calls arrived. We reached someone in NJ who so earnestly tried to help that we asked why he was working for Verizon. Aware that the call was being monitored for “training purposes,” he demurred. He said he’d gone as far as he could, even deleting and restoring the entire voice mail feature, but we’d have to wait until tomorrow to test the feature. My husband proposed that customers on hold (after half hour of “free”waiting) be permitted to deduct their time at their states’ minimum wage from their next bill.

Today in the mail we received a pitch from Verizon offering their “best prices ever” and a telephone solicitation from Comcast, offering the same. We’ve been reluctant to bundle our internet, cable and phone service, even if it meant saving a few bucks. In the past, we reasoned, that Comcast had built its expertise with cable and internet, and Verizon with phone. But our phones now are FIOS and no longer hard wired during a power outage. We understand that Verizon’s technology might be better than Comcast’s, but its customer service over the years has been unremittingly bad. Once, after failing to show up for two service calls, Verizon offered to send someone out on the weekend to accommodate us. The person they sent was, get this, a pay phone “specialist” available on a Saturday, but clueless to phones inside homes.

The internet is filled with customers with complaints about both companies. But, dear readers, is there really any reason to stay with Verizon at all? Should we switch everything to Comcast, aware of the national horror stories that may await us? How do you deal with the Comcast-Verizon conundrum? Do you bundle internet, cable and phone with either company (and why)? What’s been your experience with your choice?

I’m tired of ruining the last beautiful days of summer trying to get Verizon to get our 617 area code phone working. Please advise.

I welcome your comments in the section below.

What’s new at UMass Lowell South Campus

New Parking Lot

New Sidewalk

Photos by Tony Sampas.


” The Abolitionist Who Married A Mill Girl” by Julie Mofford

Julie Mofford, a former staffer at the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, who currently lives in midcoast Maine where she writes and works as a museum and historical society consultant, shares another story from Lowell’s past . . .

William Robinson

William Robinson

Most readers are familiar with Harriet Hanson Robinson, author of Loom & Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls 1898).  At the age of ten, this boarding-housekeeper’s daughter went to work as a bobbin girl and led her co-workers to turn-out.  However, few today remember William Stevens Robinson, the crusading journalist she married.  When he was assistant editor of the Lowell Journal & Courier he accepted a poem submitted by Harriet Hanson, later claiming he was “first attracted to his lifelong partner by a piece of poetry.” The two met monthly at Improvement Circle meetings with other Lowell Offering contributors and supporters. Harriet also visited ”My Mister Robinson’ at ‘his office by the depot.’  The journalist soon revealed his romantic nature in a valentine.

I can’t forget. I can’t forget,
The lovely gentle Harriet.
I can’t forget. I can’t forget,
Her lovely form and eyes of jet.
Those eyes which caused me first to feel
The pangs which she alone can heal…
Do not forget! Do not forget!
That I most truly love you yet
But one kind smile on me bestow
To light me through this world of woe.

On July 25, 1848 the factory worker quit her job to marry a man who “knew what it was to work and write.”

Harriet J. Hanson has been employed in the Boott Cotton Mills in a dressing room, twenty-five months, and is Honorably Discharged.
Signed: J. F. Trott.

Born in Concord, Massachusetts December 7, 1818, William Stevens Robinson attended school with the Thoreau boys, John and (Henry) David.   When Robinson was 13, his essay Why Learning Is Better Than Lands Or Houses received an award.  Too poor to attend college, he signed on as an apprentice setting type for the Concord Gazette and learning the printer’s trade in his brother’s shop and at the Norfolk Advertiser.  At 20, he returned to Concord as editor and publisher of the anti-Van Buren Yeoman’s Gazette, which soon became The Republican.  Robinson then moved to Lowell as a member of the Journal & Courier editorial staff.  For a time, he was their Washington correspondent where he became converted to abolitionism.

According to fellow political radical, Francis Bird, ‘Robinson early chose his lot with the friends of freedom; and from that day to his last, reckless of personal consequences, he devoted himself to the righting of the wrong and to the most fearless discussions of public men and measures.’  According to one biographer, Robinson’s columns offered a ‘running commentary on the precarious political scene and dramatic events and opposing points of view on the years leading up to the Civil War.’

Robinson’s anti-slavery convictions led him to quit the Lowell Courier to work for the Free Soil Party that had been organized in 1848 against the western expansion of slavery.  He moved to Boston as editor of the campaign newspaper, Boston Daily Whig but soon left the Whig party because he could not support Zachary Taylor for President as he was a slaveholder.  Robinson was unable to put down his pen and keep quiet and often alienated Lowell’s political moderates whose financial success was dependent on southern cotton.

By 1849, Robinson was back in Lowell as founder and editor of The American, one of the first Free Soil papers in the United States.  It folded in 1854 and he was ‘starved out of Lowell.’

In 1851 while still running this newspaper, William S. Robinson became Lowell’s representative to the Massachusetts House.  Always favoring workers, he supported the Ten-Hour Labor Law, although this attempt was unsuccessful.  In 1862, he was elected clerk of the Massachusetts House of Representatives.  He held this post eleven years, and was finally forced out by Lowell’s own Benjamin Franklin Butler, who was then seeking the Massachusetts governorship.  Robinson supposedly led the opposition against Butler’s bid for state governor in 1871 and 1872. Read More »

State Rep debate this Tuesday

This coming Tuesday night, August 19, beginning at 7:00 pm, there will be a debate of the five Democratic candidates for state representative in the 18th Middlesex District.  The debate will be televised live on Lowell cable channels 8 and 99 and will be streamed live on  The debate is sponsored by the KhmerPost USA newspaper.  Questions asked of the candidates will cover a wide range of issues.

The candidates are Brian Donovan, Jim Leary, Rady Mom, Dave Ouellette and Paul Ratha Yem.  The primary election is on Tuesday, September 9.  In that election, one of these five will be chosen to run in November against the unenrolled candidate, Fred Bahou.  The 18th Middlesex District includes the Highlands, the Acre and part of downtown Lowell.

Brian Donovan

Jim Leary

Rady Mom

Dave Ouellette

Paul Ratha Yem





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