Verizon and the Mystery of the Zombie Phone Lines

July 23, 2014 4:40 p.m.

I mentioned earlier that we had this bizarre and Kafka-esque billing issue that came up with Verizon today. And lest you think this is just your run of the mill billing dispute – we’re not a Verizon customer. Which puts their claim that we suddenly owe them money in kind of a funny light. Here’s the post I did earlier. But I’m back on this because I think we’ve gotten down to what the actual story is and it’s so bizarre I wanted to share it with you.

About two and half years ago we canceled our Verizon phone service and switched to an Internet “VOIP” based phone service. According to Verizon this is what happened. We canceled our account (no dispute on this). But two of the phone numbers we had when we were Verizon customers were not absorbed by any other carrier. So they were like orphaned 10 digit numeric sequences adrift on what we used to call the Information Superhighway.

According to Verizon, since no other service absorbed these numbers, they on their own “regenerated” themselves. They came back to life. Specifically, they created new business phone service accounts for themselves – with us! With TPM media.

So now, like a digital age paternity suit, they’ve come to us out of the blue looking for money, our spawn we never knew we had.

Now I said above that I think we’ve got the actual story. And what I mean by that is unlike the bizarre “government mandated emergency phone line” story we got at one point, I think it’s quite credible that this is what happened as some sort or weird administrative or programmatic goof. But to them it makes perfect sense somehow that these (de novo) new accounts they created in our name after we terminated our service with them are our responsibility. And that seems frankly insane.

Support The TPM Journalism Fund
  • Contributions allow us to hire more journalists
  • Contributions allow us to provide free memberships to those who cannot afford them
  • Contributions support independent, non-corporate journalism
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: