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.

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Companies: verizon wireless

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Comments on “Verizon Wireless To Hand Over Your Info To Advertisers Unless You Opt Out?”

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cswizz says:

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.

Aaron Von Gauss (user link) says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Dane says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Aaron Von Gauss (user link) says:

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.

Shalkar says:

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. 😀

Former cell company worker says:

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.

juddwater says:

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.

Jeff says:

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.

Beck says:

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.

RandomThoughts (user link) says:

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.

Shawn says:


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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