Recently, both Ecuador and Japan were devastated by earthquakes that broke 7.0 magnitude, causing widespread damage, injury, and loss of life in both countries. In the wake of this disaster, many people in the United States have made efforts to reach out to family and friends who were in those two countries and may have been affected by the major earthquakes. As with prior disasters, U.S. carriers are looking to help make reaching out a bit easier for their customers during their time of need, mostly by offering free texts and calls for a specified period to the affected countries. Verizon, as the largest carrier in the country, is obviously no exception to this trend.
Verizon customers will be able to make calls to the affected regions for free during the promotional period, as well as send and receive texts. The announcement specified that customers would be able to make calls originating from the United States, but did not specifically address whether receiving calls from the affected regions is within the same offer. Specifically, Verizon customers’ free calls to Japan, both landline and mobile, run from April 14 to April 18, along with free text messages to and from Japan. As for those who have family and friends in Ecuador that they need to reach out to following the disaster, they were able to do so for free between April 16 and April 18, in much the same manner as customers calling or texting Japan, making this offer available through the rest of today.
Along with reaching out to family and friends in the affected areas for free, Verizon has implemented short codes that customers can send via SMS to add a charge to their bill that donates to a humanitarian relief effort in one of the affected countries. Customers sending RELIEF to 864233 will find an extra $10 charge on their bill to reflect a donation to UNICEF’s efforts to provide disaster relief in Ecuador. Customers wanting to donate to Global Giving’s Japan relief efforts, on the other hand, can text JAPAN to short code 80100. The Verizon announcement did not mention how long the short codes will be active, most likely leaving them on and available for customers to donate through until further notice.