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Verizon Wireless To Hand Over Your Info To Advertisers Unless You Opt Out?

from the making-friends,-pissing-off-customers dept

Jeff A. writes to let us know that Verizon Wireless is trying to change its policy on what it can do with your calling record info. Basically, it sounds like they want to start selling it to marketers, so they had to change their terms of service. What they did was send customers a letter telling them they had 30 days to call and opt-out of this new plan to hand over your calling records, or you'd have automatically accepted their changed terms of service and Verizon Wireless could hand over the info to advertisers. Of course, many people will probably just see this as junk mail and toss it out, not realizing that they've just agreed to get a lot more advertising sent their way -- and, more importantly, opened up access to (what they thought were) their own private phone records. This is doubly sneaky, because the FCC recently released new rules on how telecoms shouldn't release info to third parties without "explicit consent from a customer." Verizon Wireless seems to think that sending this letter with its fine print and demanding people opt-out within 30 days falls under "explicit consent," though some customers would likely disagree.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    cswizz, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 7:33pm

    This letter will be thrown out by just about anybody who hasn't read about this sneaky (a real euphemism here) approach. I had to pull mine out of the trash after reading about it on Slashdot, then my roommate did the same after I gave the heads-up. It's as if they're trying to find a way to drive their customer approval levels even lower.

     

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  2.  
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    Aaron Von Gauss, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:09pm

    If I were...

    If I were a Verizon customer, I would be highly tempted to cancel the service - and no, I would not pay an early cancellation fee as they are the ones electing to change the terms of service, ergo they are breaking the contract.

    Other than this, my general impression of Verizon has always been overall good - why would a company sink to this scummishly low level just to make a few bucks more? What ever happen to offering a fair product and getting a fair price? Even better question, will people actually pay for a premium service just to in turn receive unsolicited advertisements and give up their right to privacy?

    No, I am not a privacy advocate, it just pisses me off when people do things like this - as already pointed out, most people won't even realize it's happening.

     

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  3.  
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    Dane, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:38pm

    Said Letter

    I do think this is an awful decision on their part. Verizon Wireless has always been my carrier of choice, even back in the days when I used prepay, but this change in their policy is just awful. I open all my mail from them, junk or not and read it front to back to ensure nothing like this happens. With in 5 minutes of opening and reading that letter I had opt'ed out via the phone number provided.

     

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  4.  
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    DarkMetal420, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:40pm

    McDonalds...

    I never saw such a letter but about 4 days ago I got an unsolicited txt msg from McDonalds announcing the monopoly game... its crap i dont want to pay for txts about french fries and big macs!

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:44pm

    My ISP tried to pull something like that.. and succeeded. And yes, they CAN change the TOS without breaking the contract given they had "policy subject to change without prior notice" somewhere in fine print. That means a lot of angry people here had to pay the 100$ cancellation fees and sign up with another ISP... which we don't have a whole lot of to chose from.

    We definitely need newer/better/tighter laws for Internet Spam Providers.

     

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  6.  
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    Shalkar, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:47pm

    My Opinion is:

    Well, pretty much in all the "Terms of Service" you ever technically agree to include the some kind of wording that says that their ToS may change at any time and they don't have to notify you about them. That they don't even have to tell you about it. Them sending a letter is exactly like he said: "Verizon Wireless seems to think that sending this letter with its fine print and demanding people opt-out within 30 days falls under "explicit consent,"...".

    Verizon is a company you use because you have no other choice. It's worse than some of the others and it doesn't even realize it. I should know. I use their land line and internet services. I use them because of cost efficiency. Nothing more. If I had a cheaper option, I'd probably go with it instead. :D

     

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  7.  
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    Brewers Fan, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:51pm

    This is crap

    I cannot beleive that this company would have the audacity to pull a stunt like this. I will most likely be leaving their service behind when my contract expires. This is just scummy to me.

     

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  8.  
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    Aaron Von Gauss, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 8:51pm

    Re: Policy Change / Early Termination Fee

    IANAL, but I do believe you are incorrect. If they change the terms of the service you have either the right to accept the new terms or cancel the service without penalty. It's like a credit card, they start off with a fixed rate of 8.99 but then for some reason want to change it to 12.99 - they can send you a notice and if you accept then there it goes. If you don't accept, the account will continue at 8.99 and no new charges will be accepted. Note, the credit card example is not talking about the default rate mechanism.

     

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  9.  
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    Derek, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 9:05pm

    ETF

    I also agree on this early termination fee thing... if they change the contract theres this little clause in the contract you signed that opts you out of that etf if they change the contract and not you as long as you cancel within that time period hence the 30 days.

     

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  10.  
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    Former cell company worker, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 9:25pm

    It's crummy, but they can do it

    Basically in the standard contract for cellular service, there is a section that allows them to revise it with or without notice to you. If they provide notice, you have 30 days from the date you were notified, to opt out, thereby voiding your original contract without a fee. The kicker is that if you do opt out of the service with a contractual change like that, they have the right to terminate your service when you do, forcing you to either go somewhere else or accept the changed service agreement.

     

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  11.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 9:43pm

    Re: If I were...

    If I were a Verizon customer, I would be highly tempted to cancel the service - and no, I would not pay an early cancellation fee as they are the ones electing to change the terms of service, ergo they are breaking the contract.
    If you do they'll just claim that you accepted the change by not opting out and you'll be liable for the cancellation fee.

     

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  12.  
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    juddwater, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 9:52pm

    Slicky Boy Opt Out

    Thanks. I threw out the notice as junk mail. Give Verizon credit for being very slick. It's too bad that these service providers seem to feel merely following the letter of the law is good enough. They will change their contract with you at the drop of a hat but are willing to act righteously indignant if you want to change or update your contract.

     

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  13.  
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    http://www.scogos.com, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 9:54pm

    Verizon Wireless To Hand Over Your Info To Adverti

    I was a Verizon customer for about ten yrs before I finally woke up and left them because of all their follies. Since then I have enjoyed peace of mind, good health and my phone bill has been slashed down 90%.

     

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  14.  
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    Jeff, Oct 15th, 2007 @ 10:02pm

    this just makes me mad. i don't have Verizon but i really want there FIOS. but things like this make something that good sound like a bad idea. so now i don't know what to do. i think the share holders need to do something and soon Verizon's going to piss off all there customers. with competition moving in as fast as they are we wont have to take this much longer.

     

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  15.  
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    Mack, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 3:10am

    Opt out now

    For any Verizon users who want to opt out -- you can do so at any time, even after the 30 days.

    Call 800-333-9956 and choose to opt out. You have to do it once for each number on the contract, but you can do all of them in one call (just, one at a time).

     

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  16.  
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    Beck, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 6:03am

    For Your Benefit

    The letter explains that they are making this change so that they can better serve you blah blah blah...

    If it is really something that is to the benefit of the customers then they should make it opt IN because of course all of their customers will want Verizon to send out their personal calling records to a bunch of advertisers.

    I can't wait to get coupons from the restaurant across the street from my office when they see that a lot of my calls originate in their neighborhood.

     

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  17.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 6:15am

    From the AP: It is that kind of sharing - which could help Verizon Communications and Verizon Wireless send a single bill to joint customers or offer existing customers discounts for added services - that the notice addresses, said Verizon Wireless spokesman Jeffrey Nelson.

    "It doesn't mean we're providing data to third-party advertisers, and it would be illegal to do so," Nelson said.

    Readers of technology news sites Slashdot and Ars Technica didn't get that message (even though Ars Technica wrote that the notice probably did not involve sharing with third parties), and entered expletive-filled comments about the amorality of Verizon Wireless' business practices. Some reported canceling their service, and one speculated about a class action lawsuit.

    Mountain, meet molehill. So no advertisers, but they still give your info to the NSA.

     

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  18.  
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    PhoneGuy, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 8:06am

    Yes, advertisers

    @RandomThoughts: the NY Times has a story today saying that while the CPNI notice doesn't mention sharing information with advertisers, the new Terms and Conditions attached to it do.

     

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  19.  
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    theman, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 12:01pm

    Horrible Practice

    I am so glad I don't have Verison. Something like this is just wrong...I will say this is a trend though. I have received notices just like it from Credit card companies and such. Of course I look at mail even if it looks like spam just for this type of thing.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 2:00pm

    Re: Yes, advertisers

    @RandomThoughts: the NY Times has a story today saying that while the CPNI notice doesn't mention sharing information with advertisers, the new Terms and Conditions attached to it do.
    RandomThoughts is a shill. He was probably hoping no one would mention those new Terms and Conditions.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 2:20pm

    I am a shill for quoting an AP story? For your information, from that AP story I called the 800 number to opt out.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 2:32pm

    Re:

    I am a shill for quoting an AP story?
    I didn't say that so stop trying to put words in my mouth. You're a shill because because of your previous behavior and your previous admission of shilling.

     

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  23.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 2:37pm

    Too bad you are a tool. A shill is paid to advocate something without disclosing that he (or she) is being paid to do so. Last time I checked, I am not being paid. Should I sue someone?

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 2:49pm

    Re:

    Too bad you are a tool.
    I guess I need to put together a dossier on you that I can throw up every time you get started again.

    RandomThoughts admits to shilling.

    Should I sue someone?
    Thanks for the laugh.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    RandomThoughts, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 3:16pm

    Go ahead, but seriously, don't you have something better to do?

     

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  26.  
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    vinny, Oct 16th, 2007 @ 8:35pm

    Re: opt out letter

    how do you get another copy of the sneaky opt out letter?

     

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  27.  
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    StoneGiant, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 9:01am

    THANKS!

    I'd tossed the letter... as an earlier poster said many of us would do.

    Needless to say, I opted out as soon as I was able to read the pdf file.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    John Duncan Yoyo, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 9:24am

    Real reason is Domestic Spying

    I think I figured it out. This notice is cover VZ's butt in the Domestic Wiretap lawsuits. The data that was described as being wanted by the feds was the same data that VZ was going to share with it's partners.

     

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  29.  
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    RandomThoughts, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 11:41am

    John, GWB is saying he won't sign the new Telecom bill because it doesn't contain language that gives telecom co's immunity on the wiretap issue.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Shawn, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 1:33pm

    CPNI

    This initiative was not the creation of Verizon Wireless. Changes in Federal Laws are requiring ALL telecom companies to provide a method of opting out of the sharing of your information. And to those cry babies who do not like the idea of receiving a letter, do you really think a company has time to physically call approximately 33 millions customers? I'm willing to bet the reason for the letter is a legal requirement showing proof that the company advised their customers. And shame on you the customer for not reading your mail, that excuse would not hold up in a court of law.

     

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  31.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Oct 17th, 2007 @ 3:24pm

    Re: CPNI

    Changes in Federal Laws are requiring ALL telecom companies to provide a method of opting out of the sharing of your information.
    So federal law requires it to opt-out rather than opt-in? Really? Why don't you quote it for us?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Christine, Oct 29th, 2007 @ 8:15am

    Obviously Jeff A is clueless

    Hey Jeff where did you get this information. Obiviously you are just another annoying consumer talking about something you have no clue about. Verizon Wireless has no such plan and has sent no such documents. Give it a rest and fine something else to bitch about.

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    Michael, Nov 21st, 2007 @ 9:31am

    Re: Opt out now

    Thank you so much for adding this information. I was skimming the entire blog section to try to find out this information because my spouse might have thrown away the letter.

    Again I thank you!
    Michael...

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    izzy, Dec 11th, 2007 @ 4:05pm

    Can this still work? it's December and I don't remember seeing the letter. I want to get out of my contract now, it's up in March.

     

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  35.  
    identicon
    bobmyknob, Mar 9th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    so can i cancel my service without an etf?

     

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