Woman asks Verizon for free service after cloud photo goof costs her lifetime of photos

Julie Nelson decided to Get Gephardt after an employee error cost her a lifetime of pictures stored through Verizon Wireless' cloud service. (Photo: KUTV)

(KUTV) — Julie Nelson takes a lot of photos with her phone. She uses them in her family-owned business that requires her to photograph snow conditions. But the truly irreplaceable ones are, of course, of her family, friends and vacations.

Now, hundreds of those irreplaceable photos are gone forever.

"The first couple of days, I think I just cried," she said. “I love my pictures."

Nelson’s ordeal began several months ago, when her cell phone carrier, Verizon Wireless, announced it was doing away with free cloud storage. If its customers wanted to keep cloud storage, it was time to start paying.

Nelson, like many, kept all her photos on "the cloud," so she rushed to Verizon to sign up and make sure she didn't lose a thing.

Verizon struggled to get her bill right, overcharging her by about $5 every month. Month after month, she'd call in and Verizon would fix her bill. But then a customer service representative goofed, and turned off her cloud storage, effectively deleting all of Nelson's stored photos.

The true irony is, Nelson thought she was being proactively safer by storing her photos on the cloud, since she has been known to lose or accidentally destroy her cell phones.

“I trusted Verizon more than I trusted myself," Nelson said. “That was my bad."

Nelson is not alone in her frustrations with Verizon. One look at the Verizon community boards online and you'll find plenty of complaints like, "Verizon deleted all my photos with no warning," and, "Cloud pictures deleted by Verizon."

Verizon Wireless declined an on-camera interview but, in an email, stated that Verizon customers should not have been surprised.

Verizon said it, "implemented a plan to make multiple attempts to contact our customers," and that, in some cases, pictures were deleted because people didn't "read these notifications."

We were aware of how this change could impact customers.

Nelson read her email. She lost her cloud storage and photos due to what Verizon calls a "unique situation."

Pete Ashdown with XMission said Nelson is not the first to put too much faith in cloud storage — and she likely won’t be the last.

"It's not a backup if it's your only copy,” he said. "It's the same as losing something on a hard drive. If it's your only copy, it's gone."

The best way for consumers to avoid finding themselves in a situation like Nelson is to keep a physical backup somewhere safe, Ashdown said.

"I put family photos on a USB drive and put that in a safe deposit box," he said, "so if the house burns down and the cloud services fail, I still have that copy."

It's advice that's too late for Nelson, who said she's devastated.

Nelson said she has asked Verizon for free cell phone service for the rest of her life as compensation. She says Verizon has said no.

Verizon says it will "continue to work with Ms. Nelson."

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