The largest wireless operator in the United States, Verizon, is closing some of its retail stores in response to the rapidly spreading coronavirus. The company has not provided a list of company-owned stores that remain open. You can go to Verizon’s website, punch in your zip code, and find out which locations are still operating. In the city of Pembroke Pines, Florida, all company-owned stores are shut while several authorized Verizon resellers are open for business. The same thing applies to Verizon stores in New York City, and indeed, throughout the country.
Verizon says that its retail employees will work from home helping customers online (through a real-time chat) and via the phone. With more people in the states being told to work from home, the carrier expects large increases in wireless traffic and has temporarily lifted late fees and caps. Verizon, along with AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint, has signed The Keep Americans Connected Pledge; until May 13th, the wireless operators promise not to freeze the accounts of consumers and small businesses unable to pay their bills. Late fees have been lifted for the 60-day period and Wi-Fi hotspots are being made available to all.
Several events related to the mobile industry have been moved online such as Google and Apple’s annual developer conferences. Google I/O was supposed to be held from May 12th to May 14th in Mountain View while Apple’s WWDC is traditionally held in early June. Facebook also 86’d its annual developer confab. Earlier this year, Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona was canceled forcing several phone manufacturers to delay the introduction of new devices.
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg wrote a letter that was printed on the company’s website. The executive wrote, “During this pandemic we are all being encouraged to practice social distancing to slow down the spread and flatten the curve. Last week, we implemented a work-from-home strategy and are now rapidly expanding it to include more members of our team. As part of our next phase, we are reducing the number of Verizon stores that remain open. However, our customers can still get the support and services they need 24/7 by visiting verizonwireless.com/support/, calling 800.922.0204 or using the MyVerizon app.”