Verizon, an American cell phone giant valued at $236 billion (with a “b”) has decided to end its HopeLine program that provided free government cell phones for survivors of domestic abuse.
Apparently the cost of a few thousand cell phones is more than the $236 billion cell phone service provider can fit into its annual budget. So it will cold-hearted end as of December 31, 2018.
Here’s how WTOL TV explains the sad situation:
Verizon Wireless says one of the main reasons they are ending the HopeLine program is because they no longer receive recycled cell phones.
Instead customers bring in their cell phones to trade in for newer ones.
The Cocoon in Bowling Green is one of the shelters currently receives cell phones from Verizon. The phones have pre-loaded minutes on them and are completely free.
The program is set to end in December leaving shelter organizers on the line.
“One of the things we know about domestic violence is that it comes with lots of control on the part of the abuser. So one of the things that’s easy for the abuser to control is phone service,” said Director Kathy Mull.
The Cocoon estimates they have received between 100 to 150 phones from Verizon through this program. They said it is an essential part of helping survivors feel safe.
Say what, Verizon?
On one hand you say you no longer receive recycle cell phones. On the other hand you say customers trade their cell phones for new ones? Does that mean you end up with thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of used phones? Couldn’t a $236 billion company afford to refurbish those phones and continue the HopeLine program?
Verizon clearly realizes that heartless decision this could easily turn into a public relations nightmare, so they quickly issued a press release reassuring everyone that they outstanding corporate citizens and that despite evidence to the contrary, they care. They really care:
In the United States, one in every four women and one in every seven men have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner, and each year more than 15 million children witness violence in their homes.
Dealing with the consequences of domestic violence in our society is an enormous challenge. At Verizon, we’re working to be part of the solution:
- We support Camp Hope, a national youth program focused on ending the cycle of generational violence.
- We support the #Hope feature, which allows any Verizon Wireless customer to connect to the National Domestic Violence Hotline simply by dialing #Hope on their mobile phone.
- We provide grants to leading nonprofit organizations, focusing on organizations that support victims and survivors of domestic violence and those that strive to prevent it.
Conspicuously missing from that list of good deeds is HopeLine, the program that provided domestic abuse survivors with free cell phones.
In our original story about HopeLine, posted back on May 27, 2015, we praised Verizon because they seemed to understand how much survivors of domestic abuse needed the HelpLine program.
“Access to a wireless phone and service, along with a voice mailbox can help victims of domestic violence rebuild their lives, by giving them the means to communicate with family, friends, agency and shelter support staff and current or prospective employers.”
If Verizon’s words were true then, they are just as true today. Hundreds of thousands of victims of domestic violence needed the program then and just as many need the program now.
How about if Verizon continues to fund the HopeLine program by paying Hans Vestberg, its newly-appointed CEO a few million dollars less and applying those dollars to the HopeLine program?
variety.com explains what we mean:
With his appointment as Verizon CEO, Vestberg’s base salary will increase to $1.5 million (up from $807,497 in 2017), according to a regulatory filing. The exec’s target short-term incentive opportunity will increase from 150% to 250% of base salary, and his target long-term incentive opportunity will increase from 600% to 800% of base salary. Vestberg also will get a one-time stock grant worth about $10 million as of Aug. 1, 2018, when the CEO switch takes effect.
In the words of former Beatle George Harrison, “All things must pass.” But in this case the HopeLine program is passing only because Verizon’s heartless corporate leaders chose to let it pass.
Shame on them.