LAPTOP Rescinds Best of CTIA Award for Zer01 Mobile

zero1-logoIn LAPTOP’s 18-year history, we’ve given out hundreds of awards, each chosen to educate our readers about best-in-class products with great potential to change their lives for the better. These awards range from our Editors’ Choice Award, which appears on reviews for our highest-rated products to special sections like our Best Notebooks of the Year to tradeshow awards like those we give at CTIA Wireless. We’re proud of the many innovative products we’ve highlighted, and we’ve never had to rescind an award, until now. Effective immediately, we are rescinding the Best of CTIA Award given to Zer01 Mobile at April’s CTIA Wireless 2009. We’re taking this extraordinary step, because of serious ethical questions that have arisen about the company. We can no longer endorse its service and therefore are compelled to warn our readers to avoid it. Trade shows such as CTIA Wireless are all about potential, as vendors announce and demonstrate new products that have yet to hit the market. We meet with the most interesting of these vendors to get a sense of what they have to offer our readers, and we choose Best of Show award recipients based on our best effort to determine the potential of products that have yet to be released. However, in the case of  Zer01 Mobile, it appears that the information the company provided was inaccurate and incomplete. The company claimed that it would offer unlimited voice and data for $69.95 per month and use VoIP technology to let users make calls. We were informed at CTIA that Zer01 would launch its service by July 1. However, the company has since broken its promises both to consumers and to us. Serious questions have also been raised about Zer01′s network and whether it can offer the coverage it promises. The company says it has interconnect arrangements with GSM providers yet refuses to tell us who they are. AT&T denied to us that they have any agreements with Zer01, and T-Mobile declined to comment. As we’ve reported, Zer01′s coverage map is identical to that of AT&T’s, which raises even more doubts. We also take issue with the fact that Zer01 changed its business plan after CTIA Wireless 2009. Initially, the company claimed it would offer its service directly to consumers. Then in May, Zer01 said it would provide its unlimited voice and data service to Buzzirk Mobile subscribers, a chosen distributor whose parent is a multi-level marketing company called Global Verge. A report from Network World recently revealed that Global Verge’s CEO, Mark Petschel,has plead guilty to securities fraud. When we asked Zer01′s CEO Ben Piilani about it, he told us that Petschel had resigned, though we have no independent confirmation of that. As of July 1, according to Network World, Zer01 changed the content of its Web site and began calling itself a mobile virtual network enabler. Even more unsettling is the fact that sales associates for Buzzirk Mobile, which is the public face of Zer01, have deceived the public by claiming that Zer01 owns 2100 MHz spectrum when it does not. When we interviewed Zer01 CEO Ben Piilani on July 22nd and confronted him about our concerns, he promised to deliver a phone for us to test by the following week. However, to date we have yet to receive an evaluation unit. In addition, an e-mail message sent to Zer01′s public relations firm last week, which warned that we may rescind our Best of CTIA Award, was not answered. At this time we can only urge extreme caution to those interested in using or selling Zer01′s service.

AUTHOR BIO
Mark Spoonauer
Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for Laptop Mag and Tom's Guide, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.
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  1. Nearly Got Sucked In Says:

    Bravo

  2. Rich Says:

    Thank You! We know you @ laptop would have to swallow your pride to do this, but it is a very good move since your award has been used by global verge to validate what is an apparent scam by thier partners! Hopefully this will help put an end to this once and for all!

  3. Avram Says:

    I just want to clarify that our award was given to highlight the potential of the service (if it had been delivered as promised) for consumers. As we heard the feedback from our readers and the service was NOT delivered to consumers as promised, we withdrew the award.

    However, it’s important to note that we never endorsed or evaluated Zer01 as a business opportunity as we just don’t do that. Even when we give our highest awards to, for example, a notebook computer, we are recommending that readers buy the product, not work for the company that makes it. We would say: “This is the best ultraportable notebook for your business.” We would NEVER say “because this notebook is so great, you should become an authorized reseller for the manufacturer and buy their stock.”

  4. David Says:

    Thank you thank you thank you…

    I knew you would get it right.

  5. Nearly Got Sucked In Says:

    Admin

    I would like to think that you actually ” tried ” the notebook the next time you gave it an award. It’s all very well you telling us you only recommend we buy it but that clearly has to be based on the product existing to begin with.

    Just saying like.

  6. Kevin Says:

    This WHOLE thing is really quite AMAZING …

    - When the first AWARD came out on laptopmag.com … EVERY naysayer claimed it was ONLY because Zer01 Paid for it
    - Now that it is rescinded – laptopmag.com gets the Pulitzer Prize from these same people? (I see some “Clap clap, some Bravos and a few thank yous”)
    - It is AMAZING that an award was given to anyone who could “highlight potential” (You can pencil ME in for the win Next year) – I have a phone that can BEAM people to outer space and back in seconds
    - It Amazes me that NO Comment in this world means NO
    - It amazes me that an award was stripped because someone allegedly committed some crime in the past (any CONVICTION documentation??) Good thing Mark didn’t cure cancer … guess no one would want that life saving medicine from a former fraudster. “Just let me die” or Nah I prefer my $600 phone bill
    - It is AMAZING that on the last thread someone said that Zer01 was in Jail in Atlanta … funny heard them on a call since
    - It is Amazing that some of the negative people on here have dozens of posts … all hours of the day. (no kids, jobs or chores around the house …. just lots of free time for good old fashion Crime Fighting)
    - It is Amazing that 1 blog get 3 references, quotes and chunks of information from another blog (network world)?? I thought you met these guys yourself and interviewed them a second time???
    - It is Amazing that i just did a google search on “cell phone release delayed” and got 10 Million hits … yet Zer01 are few weeks late and they are “scammers”?? Whatever
    - It is AMAZING that you interviewed Zer01 and throughout your whole article you refer to MOBILE Verge. Who is that???? Better check networkworld
    - The MOST AMAZING thing of ALL … I talked to 3 Separate people who have said they have tried for WEEKS to submit a Positive Zer01 post but they always come down. Bizarre. Not sure if mine will last :(

    Like I have ALWAYS said … The phones will either work or they won’t. We shall see. Everything else is just Speculation served with a side order of Bias.

    p.s. Since everyone believes everything they read on the internet … I saw Mark Petschel Dressed as Santa Clause handing out Hundred Dollar Bills to Dozens of kids at an orphanage and then he gave his left lung to this poor little 13 year old named David, who was about to die without a donor. Thanks Mark

  7. Hootch Says:

    Kevin,

    Which part of

    NO PHONE

    NO ROLLOUT

    NO REPLIES

    are you having difficulties with?

    I’m sure you will be incredibly amazed beyond belief if you took the time to read the article in its entirety. A recap, it was withdrawn because they FAILED to deliver on their promises.

    I’m interested in your BEAM phone, please provide me with the patent pending reference or, if already patented, the patent number, so that I might verify your claims before investing.

  8. Nearly Got Sucked In Says:

    Kevin

    No one cares what you saw or think, they never produced a phone try to keep up.

  9. NGSI Says:

    Kevin

    The MOST AMAZING THING is you trying to defend them

  10. Steve Says:

    I especially agree with one comment Kevin made, and this is what I’ve told everyone: either the phones will work, or they won’t. And no amount of speculation will change whether they do or not. We should know in a couple of weeks, and then we can all move on with our lives in one direction or another. Right now, I’m a member of Global Verge because of the potential, but am keeping all of my prospects on stand-by so that I can assess the phones when they really hit the market and compare it with what else is available … BEFORE anyone invests their money.

    I also agree on Kevin’s “cell phone release delayed.” It always shows me bias when 90% of businesses fail and that’s just life, but if a network marketing business or distributor fails, the whole thing was a scam, right?

    In my mind, a scam is when someone’s intentionally out to burn you. Otherwise, it’s just a failed business, which happens all the time in any industry. Global Verge could turn out to be either or these, or a phenomenal success. I think it makes a lot of sense for people to talk cautiously about a new technology, but unless they really know what’s going on, I don’t see how they can assure the world that it will fail — or say it’s a scam just because it’s sold through networking.

    I appreciate that Laptop Mag was concerned, especially when they didn’t get some answers they were looking for. But I’m surprised they couldn’t wait a couple more weeks to see if the company came out with the phones on their delayed timeline. If the phones DO end up working, it’ll probably look strange that they pulled an award out from under this kind of technology immediately before the launch.

    Bottom line, I’m fine with Laptop making whatever decision they like. But as for comments on Global Verge and Buzzirk Mobile, let’s just see what happens rather than arguing over the unknown.

  11. NGSI Says:

    Steve

    Are you aware that Global Verge have tried to launch a phone on 3 occasions now BizzBuzz and E-Verge, none of this is alarming enough for you to put all the pieces together. I am shocked at how people can still believe all of this, you want to believe you are going to be rich so you let stupidity rank higher than common sense.

    Forget the fact Zero 1 changed their website umpteen times, or that they have no offices, as do GV forget the lies of patents and agreements and technology that no one in the industry is backing what will it take for some people to wake up and smell the coffee.

  12. Jimmy Crackhorns Says:

    Kevin and Steve, you blow hards know exactly what a scam is….a scam is when somebody tells you they are going to do something, knowing full well he cannot deliver, lies and misleads about circumstances, asks people for money to get to the next non-existant step, takes said money, then waffled at every chance about why he hasn’t done what he said he could do starting in October of 2008.
    You MLM scum bags are all alike…stupid, naive, and POSEURS!! Piilani also lied on his web site about his credentials…all of them!!

  13. Won't Be Had Says:

    I agree with Kevin and Steve.. this is not a scam.. just really poor execution. Things that didn’t bother me about this whole concept.

    - Zer01 Website displaying working phones that don’t exist.
    - Video demo of phone pulled down when users saw it was on a different carrier.
    - Claims of everything from HD movie downloads in seconds.
    - Claims by Piilani that this was ready to go and tested in 2007.
    - Global Verge and Buzzirk having an almost identical non release of a product with the previous company.
    - Addresses for businesses changing faster than anyone can keep up.
    - On the conference calls since the July ship and miss dates.. promises of just a few days more.
    - FYI How does a manufacture defrag a sim card anyway?

  14. Jimmy Crackhorns Says:

    As for Laptop – they had to eat crow. Piilani said he would provide a phone and he didn’t. He said he would do a lot of things and has done NONE OF THEM. I’m glad Laptop had the stones to distance themselves from scamsters like Kevin and Steve and Ben and Mark and Paul.

  15. Rich Says:

    Kevin and Steve hmmmm? Wait a few more weeks…so we can continue to charge your cc e ass ociates. Yes yes yes, I know the product launched on july 1st and NO ONE other than the dirty dozen has seen a phone or is even ALLOWED to, yes I know this has been beta tested for a few months, yes I know that we have given you no LOGICAL reason for the delay, no proof of a patent pending, and yes we know UTGI, zero1, and global verge dont actually have physical addresses and utgi s websites look like crap, oh and I almost forgot, yes GV had to go OVERSEES to get cc merchant account since our credit is so bad and our operation looks do shady, and yes it doesnt matter that we @ GV have our heads up our ass and that has NOTHING to do with the zero1 rollout….other than this all being orchastrated to get you e ass ocites fees, but why, why, why, would Laptop Magazine be so hasteful in thier decision to rescind this award? We only ask for a few more weeks…every few weeks. LMAO! IDIOTS!

  16. GLS Says:

    You call it “vaporware”- I agree- if you read the entire definition of “vaporware” and how it was used. Check it out…
    ” Vaporware: A Microsoft classic, dating back to at least the early-’90s era of “Micro-serfs” (likely before), and now escaped into the world at large. Software that was conceived (and probably promoted and advertised) but never came to fruition; by extension, a foolish or “fanciful conceit”.

    Here’s how it would work: Say Cisco or Sun or any other competitor would announce a fabulous new product. Reporters would then rush to Redmond and query what Microsoft thought of the new software. The Microsoft Press agents systematically would announce that they were about to come out with a product superior in nature.

    They would recommend that buyers of the new software wait for 3 months until they released their competitive product. Buyers would buy into the fabrication and hold off buying from the Microsoft competitor.”

    Only in this case, no one could ask anyone ot hold off 3 months- because we know what will happen- tens of thousands of people are going to jump the gun- already did, actually- over 40,000 of them in a month and a half. So what option is left? Start screaming “SCAM! It’s a SCAM! It’s a SCAM!” and hope that does it.

    Guess what?
    It won’t. It didn’t. It ain’t gonna happen.

    I really wish Laptop Magazine could keep up with current events- but then that’s why I haven’t subscribed.

  17. Carmen Says:

    So what is the issue we are talking about? Is it whether the phones themselves will work. are they real? Or is it that a network marketing company is atttempting to roll them out? And specifically a company by the name of Global Verge? I think anyone with any business sense can read through the political and not to mention biased crap that is flooding the internet and see right down to the heart of the matter.. the phones work.. the techonlogy works.. The questions is… can GV pull it off.. Can the distributors work in unison with management and get the job done! Amway did it with MCI and Network 2000 did it with Sprint 10 years later. Telecomm and MLM are PROVEN models! Piilani has gone on record many times claiming the relationship and contractual agreement with GV with exclusive rights to sell thru MLM model.. It will be interesting to see when these phones do hit the market, what you will be saying next? Lets see if Walmart picks up and starts selling the phone, then what? Is it a scam then?? I would still gladly market this phone through a multilevel marketing structure after Walmart gets in the game because now I have additional ammunition in marketing credibility.. But those of you whho are at it, will come back then and say… its a scam because they took your market away! Lets get on with it guys! This is BIG business.. It’s not just another MLM deal..and speaking of MLM, the model will always work and work far better than any retail sector. Everyone is giving it an honest shot with an intention of winning. It will not be a long ordeal.. We’ll know in a metter of weeks whether GV can pull this off.. If they do they will be a HUGE success…if not, we move on.. We’ve all made mistakes in business and read any bio of any successful man or woman and they will clealry tell you that they failed many times before they succeeded.. Critics are good cuz they keep everyone honest! and lets face it– criticism SELLS! people LOVE buying into why things DONT work as opposed to why they do.. Its just human behaviour.. So this website and that website make allegations of this being a scam, imagine the hits to their site.. Those who are making comments out there either have a personal agenda or they know nothing about business. Do you think with 50,000 people joingin a company in 30 days that could create some traction for their material? Sure it would! What an audience. Heck I bet 90% of GV distributors have visited these sites. WOW now there’s a concept.

  18. Carmen Says:

    Oh and for the record.. Rich, why are you so compelled or should I say angry to the point of calling people IDIOTS? Who gives you the right to do that? Freedom of speech I guess.. Im calling ti a mere reflection of oneself. Lets move on!

  19. NGSI Says:

    Kathleen

    You are a charlatan and a fraud give it up please you only make yourself look even more ridiculous by trying to justify lies and dishonesty good job Triple Dumbass and yes i am waiting for Mr Lewis to tell em how a Sim Card gets defragged what a f**king clueless idiot but hey it must mean you are even dumber to think that holds any validity

  20. Blitz Says:

    Free buzz is gooooooood; don’t matter if its negative or positive just so its sensational- not lukewarm. I’d personally like to thank each and everyone of yous for the free buzzzzzzzz….its the best free publicity we could of hoped for-thanks for your participation and keep it coming; the uglier the better! By the way, is anybody familiar with the story of a mouse who desired a new home in central Florida; seems the locals didn’t know what was goin’ on till poof, like magic, the deal was sealed…

  21. Matt Warner Says:

    GLS

    Zer01 has only itself to blame.

    You compare this to CISCO and other world class companies, if they had a product that was revolutionary, they would have taken the time to address any questions that the media had.

    They would hold demostrations of their products, they would have brought out their engineers and had them talk about the technology.

    If Zer01 would have done a few of these things than EVERYONE would have been patient and gien them the benefit of the doubt. IF they REALLY have the product and IT REALLY works as they say, then they have a poor management staff to allow these allegations to go unanswered and to allow the award to be pulled without bothering to respond to an email. I am equally troubled that a management would allow that to unfold when they had the ability to respond in a way to prevent it.

    There have been a series of questions that have been unanswered and remain unanswered that don’t relate to Global Verge and their management but the actual product and service. Again rather than blame us or Laptop Magazine ask Ben to address these points. If he does and they are things that can be substantiated I will start the ball in asking Laptop to reinstate the award. Until then you cannot expect anyone to believe that this is a legitimate product and service. Below is a checklist that Ben can use in getting this resolved.

    Zer01 could resolve this mess by:

    1. Giving Laptop Magazine an actual working phone to try.

    2. Produce the actual patent applications that they say their technology is based.

    3. Explain why the ATT coverage map is being used and yet ATT denies a relationship.

    4. Explain the allegation that phone manufacutures have denied any orders for the quanity of phones that Zer01 has indicated they ordered.

    5. Explain why as of July 1, according to Network World, Zer01 changed the content of its Web site and began calling itself a mobile virtual network enabler.

    Those are the core issues, have them address those items publicly and completely and we will give them time to get it rolled out.

  22. Peter Armenti Says:

    Ok, the funniest part HAS to be that the award is still posted on ZER01mobile.com home page linked to the recision notice from laptopmag. HaHa..

    I was following this opportunity but it has seemed half baked to me all along. Even the company website just seems so unprofessional and then all these hack Buzzirk websites everywhere. I’m proud to say I’ve matured in my years to have waited this one out.

  23. JP Says:

    Besides all the non-sense going on in the media, GV does offer other products for sale as well as the benefits that the e-associates get with their membership. Even if the phones never came out, one could still do quite well just focusing on the other areas of the GV product lines. So, if there’s any blame to put placed, put it on Zer01 for not holding up to THEIR end of the bargain. GV and Buzzirk have absolutely no control over Zer01′s production output. As for the CC processing, that is a lot more simple. I own my own Stain/Powerwashing company and it takes a lot more than just credit to get approved to process CC’s. It takes a lot of bank statements as well as financial statements to even be considered. For a company just starting out it would be near impossible to get approved to accept CC’s pretty much anywhere for the first year or so, and that’s REGARDLESS of personal credit.

  24. Nearly Got Sucked In Says:

    Kathleen

    Your analogy might be sound in the real world but the simple fact is Buzzirk are seasoned veterans at htis now, perhaps you were actually part of Bizzbuzz and E Verge??

    The simple fact of the matter is Zero made promises it coudl not keep to the tech world it’s alright confusing peopel such as yourself but in real industries people don’t take too lightly to half truths and out right lies.

  25. Matt Says:

    Why the hate? So what, it’s a network marketing product- it’s not something the Devil himself created in he!!. It amazes me: all these people “yes!” and “thank you!” Seriously, who cares?!?! Why the emotional investment? I just don’t get it…

  26. Mike Says:

    NGSI

    Get a life. I mean really.

    Laptop… will you delete this one too?

  27. michelle Says:

    wonder if ANYONE here even knows that the PHONES do exist..

    the Paros Is on the market now and people own them..AND USE THEM

    they just are NOT on the buzzirk network..

    so yes lil brains.
    the phones DO EXIST..and they DO work!!

    http://www.expansys-usa.com/d.aspx?i=178075&partner=cpforums

  28. michelle Says:

    also why do they NEED a fancy address right now? microsoft and many many companies that are now HUGE began in a spare bedroom or a garage!

    Their new atty is a well known atty from Amway that works ONLY with MLM companies.
    Ever hear the saying, ‘if it doesn’t work the first time, try and try again? did your parents ever tell you that??
    How many of you got a DUI and got off from serving time in jail? do not be so quick to condemn others for their past failures or mistakes
    APPLAUD them for having the balls to get up and try again!! APPLAUD them for standing up to the adversity and take all the trash tossed at them and about them to TRY AGAIN. wouldn’t you like a 2nd chance on some of your mistakes?

  29. Nearly Got Sucked In Says:

    Special Update… August 5th Triple Diamond Call CANCELED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  30. Jim Says:

    Pevasip Corp (www.Pervasip.com), a publically traded company on the NASDAQ stock exchange, is the worldwide network that ZER01 will be using to connect to more than 40 countries and the US. Here is the announcement made to the US Securities and Exchange commission in Pervasip’s 3rd quarter report October 15, 2008. Unified Technologies Group, Inc. (UTGI)is the parent company of ZER01:

    “Our largest opportunity with an existing customer is with Unified Technologies Group, Inc. (“UTGI”) which recently signed a wholesale services agreement with us that requires them to sell a minimum of 50,000 IP telephony lines running over a national cell phone network by October 2009. UTGI has agreed to pay us for the revenue we would have received from 50,000 lines, in the event they do not achieve that level. We anticipate they will sell significantly more than 50,000 lines.”

    FROM: http://finance.yahoo.com/q/h?s=PVSP.OB

    Would ZER01 sign a contract to pay for 50,000 lines if they did not intend to roll the phones out?

  31. Bob Says:

    Impressive move. Laptopmag is a nice, knowledgeable, current, and nerdy site for getting the latest tech info. I’ve been impressed with the detailed reports for a while, and being responsible enough to issue a rescission like this is very impressive.

    Everybody makes mistakes. Acknowledging them and accepting them is key. Too few people do that today.

  32. Jonathon Says:

    What about existing cell phone companies like Boost Mobile ???

    They have unlimited voice, text, mobile to mobile, long distance etc, etc.

    No contracts, no credit checks, no hidden fees.

    All of that for $50. a month.

    Why would i pay $80. a month for the same service that has yet to be launched and proven from some questionable company that has associated itself with a MLM company whos owner has been convicted of fraud and has zero success with any company as his background.

    Why is Global Verge now being investigated by the Missouri Attorney General ? (If you don’t believe me then call the Missouri AG office and ask them yourself.)

    I think Laptop Mag has seen enough and is doing what they should be doing, which is warning people to be very cautious before spending any money. This is the 1st award in 18 years that they have rescinded. Does’nt that say something ?

    The Boost Mobile phone is available and sold at places like Best Buy and other major retailers. Why would i want to buy a phone through some used car salesman, get rich quick wannabe that has already spread lies and misrepresented the phone and service ?

    Boost Mobile is owned by Sprint, which is a real company, with real employess in a real corporate building with all of the various departments that any real business would have in place. All of this is available online and in person for anyone to see.

    Zer01 and Global Verge had thier shot to gain my trust and business as a consumer and they both blew it big time with thier false information and lame business practices.

    Whatever Zer01 and Global Verge come out with won’t be any better or cheaper than what is already available through other companies. All of the features that were suppose to make them better have already been exposed to be lies and that’s why Laptop Mag did what it did and why consumers like myself waste thier time posting messages like this.

    My two cents.

  33. Allen Says:

    It is going to be interesting to see how Laptop reinstates the award after these phones come out in a few days and thousands of us are buying them at record rates. It is also interesting to note that below the “submit comment” button there is a Verizon Wireless sign indicating that they are a “Featured Sponsor” of this website. When these phones are out and they work as advertised, Verizon will lose a significant percentage of their monthly subscribers. Do you suppose there may be a connection here????

  34. Jonathon Says:

    I forgot to mention that Boost Mobile also has unlimited web/internet also.

    If Zer01 and Global Verge come out with a phone that is equal to Boost Mobile, then it would’nt be worth an extra $30. a month, especially having to go through a MLM distributor, when i can get better service and support through a major retailer.

    If the Zer01/GV phone and service actually is launched and actually turns out to be better in any way, then it will be a matter of whether thier phone service is worth the extra $30. a month.

  35. Jonathon Says:

    Of course, my last post is for anyone that still has interest in looking further at anything released or launched by Zer01 and GV.

    I only used Boost Mobile and its “unlimited everything” plan as an example. There are other real companies offering similar plans at similar prices also.

    I don’t consider Zer01 or Global Verge real companies because they hide everything and choose to not provide any real information to anyone that has requested it.

    No matter what i say or think. Everyone has to decide for themselves.

    Once again. Just my two cents. I’m done posting anything else.

  36. Won't Be Had Says:

    Kind of funny the spin going around on this.. the people behind this operation have been sending out emails telling everyone how “mean” and “nasty” laptop mag was during the interview to Piilani and that no one cares what laptopmag has to say anyway. LOL I guess thats why the stuck the award on every single website they had..

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