We definitely want you to be able to use the services that you need and happy to help. This device would certainly have the ability to send and receive text messages. Are you aware if your line has any current blocks set up that would prevent messaging? Or are you currently subscribed to a messaging plan? You can check your current plans and features by logging in online to your My Verizon account and selcting the Change Plan or My Apps and Products under the Plan Management section on the home page.
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Turned out that picture messaging had been blocked, and "group messages" are effectively picture messages w/o the picture, so this was the problem. Gracias.