Cable Companies Accuse Verizon Of Shady Practices To Prevent Customers From Leaving

from the so-we-hear-you're-leaving... dept

Comcast and Time Warner have complained to the FCC that Verizon is taking unfair advantage in preventing customers from dropping their phone service. The basic story is that the cable companies have been offering deals on various "bundles" of TV, internet and phone service, all over cable. When customers agree to switch, most want to keep their existing home phone number (which is allowed under number portability rules). The cable companies take care of that part, informing the phone company of the switch -- at which point (the cable companies say) Verizon calls up those customers and offers them cash discounts to stick around. While it's quite common for telcos (or other firms for that matter) to offer customers who cancel deals to stay, this is somewhat different. The customer hasn't called to cancel in this case. It's just because Verizon owns the telephone network that it finds out about the switch and then proactively contacts the customers. Given the FCC's extra friendly terms with the telcos rather than cable co's, anyone think this has a chance of getting anywhere?


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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:00pm

    It's called competition!

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:12pm

      Re:

      Except the phone companies (Verizon in this case) are treading very, very closely to invasion of privacy.

      To use a poor analogy: say you eat out at a resturant reguarlly for a while. Then you sample food from somewhere else and decide to start eating their reguarly.

      Resturant A finds out while talking to Resturant B about their regular customers that you started eating at B.

      Resturant A then starts bugging you at home, offering you a "regular customer discount" that they didn't offer you when you WERE a regular.

      Aside from being a little creepy, it's a little fishy.


      I'm of two minds of this myself. On the one hand, its a gateway to a whole new legal mess involving privacy. It's just a baby step in the direction, but its moving the wrong way.

      On the other hand it IS competition, but at the same time if the customer never told them they were switching . . .

       

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        LBD, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 10:41pm

        Re: Re:

        No, it's really more like you usualy use one doctor, but at somepoint you switch doctors, so the new doctor requests your data. The old doctor (Who hasn't been informed of the switch) realises something's up, and tries to win you back

         

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    Grady, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:01pm

    Depends. Since Comcast (if i remember correctly) has finally thrown the red flag about the bias nature of the FCC at the moment, this may be Comcast's "flagship". I know I would gladly drill this home. It's just more fuel for the fire ;|.

    Now, do get me wrong, I think both the cable companies and the telco's are just greedy companies making us pay too much money for the internet, but the FCC's bias nature needs to stop....

     

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    rob friedman, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:07pm

    Why are customers leaving? Perhaps they can't get FIOS yet.
    When that day comes, they will return in droves.

    Cable knows it can't compete with fiber to the home hence their whining. Sounds kinda like the hard drive maker executive that said he wants to sue the SSD companies if they become to popular.

    All this technological, artificial scarcity is killing me.

     

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    Jamil, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:08pm

    there are some laws against this

    it's illegal for the carriers to use certain information for marketing. for example, it would be easy for a cell carrier to tell if they are using their phone to call the sales line of another cell carrier. however, they arne't allowed to act on that information, and believe it or not, they DRILL that into their employees. not sure about the legality of this one, but i'm assuming if they filed complaints, it's illegal too.

     

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      Triatomic Tortoise, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:59pm

      Re: there are some laws against this

      There is nothing illegal. Verizon marketing can pull customer database and offer attractive terms. It is actually a good thing for the customers.

       

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    John, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:32pm

    Well duh. Its a god damn phone company. What do you expect? Fair treatment of customers? HA!

     

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    Mitch the Bitch, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 8:44pm

    I've had very few issues with Verizon and many many issues with both Charter and Comcrap.

    Cable companies must be in bed with the demoncraps. They are like mirror copies of themselves. Whine and cry all day long all the while doing EXACTLY what they accuse the other side of. We used to call it hypocrisy but today its called "news"...

     

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    Tony, Mar 24th, 2008 @ 9:21pm

    Competition

    thank god for competition in my area as far as media is concerned. we have 2 cable companies (millennium and comcast), 2 satellite (dish and directv), throw in Verizon DSL, Verizon Phone, and verizon fios and we actually have competition on all fronts. anytime a deal comes around, just call your current provider and usually they'll match or do something to keep you.

    however we need competition against bg&e. the electric company is killing us. so much for de-regulation.

     

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    Xyro TR1 (profile), Mar 24th, 2008 @ 10:33pm

    Who the hell would want to leave Verizon for TWC or Comcast anyways?? FIOS > All...

     

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    Twinrova, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 4:14am

    HAHAHA! Pot. Kettle. It makes no difference!

    They both do the same thing: Bend over their customers.

    I wouldn't be too surprised if these companies and services merge in the future.

    Welcome to AtVerTiCoSprAdel.

    Basic monthly services for "unlimited" TV, internet, and phone: $199
    Price subject to change tomorrow and every day thereafter.

    Thank you so much for being a wonderful customer.

     

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    Alimas, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 5:23am

    lol at this story

    I have ComCast cable internet (FIOS isn't available where I am) and I had someone staying with me for a prolonged period of time. As I don't have a house phone, she called Verizon to setup one for herself, while she was on the phone with them, she mentioned I had ComCast cable they started telling her to ask me to switch over and offering me all sorts of discounts and instant cash offers.
    But nothing long term or that made up for the fact that DSL around here is much slower than cable.

    I thought it was funny though.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 6:21am

    People still use home phones?!

    And just kind of an OT comment, you people talking about FIOS, have you seen the contract for that? The install fee, the monthly fees, the one or two year contract...... and if you move there is a fee for that too (100% re-installation and set up fee)! Router fees, modem fees... it is a disgrace. The grass is not as green as you think it is.

    The FCC lost control years ago. The FCC is a joke. The service providers in our country are a joke. There isn't even capitalism anymore, its is all about who can pad the politician's pockets the most while gouging the citizens with shitty service. There is no market, there is no choice.

    What are we ranked, like 30th in the world for quality of service? And I bet we pay the most...

     

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      Jeff Rife, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 8:14am

      Re:

      And just kind of an OT comment, you people talking about FIOS, have you seen the contract for that? The install fee, the monthly fees, the one or two year contract...... and if you move there is a fee for that too (100% re-installation and set up fee)! Router fees, modem fees... it is a disgrace.

      Huh? Although you do have to sign up for a one or two year contract to get the best deal, that's generally true with all providers. Other than that, the installation was free, they provided me with a free router (although I don't use it as my main router, since I already had a better one), and there is no "modem" involved with FIOS.

      I pay exactly what they quoted me with no extra fees, taxes, "_____ recovery charge", etc.

      I don't know of any other provider that can give you 15Mbps/15Mbps with 5 static IPs and no filtering, blocking, or limits to your use of the line for just $159/month. For speeds closer to cable (5Mbps/2Mbps), it's $69/month.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 7:35am

    I see no problem with the customer getting a call and offered a better deal. I worked with the consulting company that advised Verizon to do exactly that.

    I would have a problem with a Verizon rep calling up and saying if they switch to cable phone Verizon will pull the copper from your house. Course, they might do that too.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 8:07am

    We tried, unsuccessfully, to switch from Verizon to Cavalier due to their better pricing and faster DSL service. Verizon conveniently kept losing the phone number transfer request.

    My wife got fed up with it, blamed Cavalier, and called Verizon to reactivate our service. Believe it or not, but switching back actually took several days, and I had to get the FCC involved to force Verizon to turn us back on because they intended to leave us in limbo for daring to cancel their service.

     

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    Fernando, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 8:59am

    Local POTS (Plain Old Telephone Service) is regulated by the states, not by the FCC. The state issues the tariffs.

    Jamil's guess is off-target. It's not illegal for a company to contact a current customer and offer a discount.

    You could call this "shady" if they made the offer in bad faith (perhaps planning to revoke it after three months.) Lacking any such evidence, the only thing shady here is the yellow Techdirt headline.

     

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    MaxB312, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 3:25pm

    Wow

    Wow, Verizon really will abuse any advantage it has. Basically Verizon is forcing its competitors to get permission before finalizing a switch I, as a customer, have already initialized. For some reason, I don't think this was how congress envisioned its number portability rules working.

    Additionally, its not the type of competition that benefits consumers. Customers may save a few dollars in the short term but they will lose all the benefits of innovation that comes with intense competition. If all it takes to kill the competition is cutting a few dollars off a bill with suspect marketing ploys, then it will have no incentive to innovate. And in order to make up the money lost from cutting price for a few customers, they'll probably just raise the price of, say, call waiting (as they've done many times before).

     

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    D0M1N8R, Mar 25th, 2008 @ 5:25pm

    All fair game

    IMHO its all fair game.. Consumer wins!
    Now rather then whining give me a better deal then the telco does!!! Isn't the real issue the fact that they are unwilling to match or exceed the deal...

     

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