Verizon Wireless's Outrage Over Alltel Ad A Bit Misplaced

from the bad-timing-is-all dept

Having just run into its own problems with false advertising, Verizon Wireless is now suing competitor Alltel, claiming false advertising in its commercials. The ads, such as the one here, make fun of Verizon Wireless and other mobile operators for forcing people to extend their contracts whenever they make changes, and claim that one of Alltel’s advantage is the lack of such requirements.

Verizon Wireless doesn’t just claim that this is wrong, its spokesperson states: “Whatever merit this comparison may have to other carriers, in the case of Verizon Wireless, the supposed ‘advantage’ is pure fiction.” “Pure fiction” is a pretty strong claim, and it would be a lot stronger if it hadn’t been absolutely true until just a couple months ago. Verizon Wireless did, in fact, force people to extend contracts, and only stopped the practice back in October when Sprint got sued over doing the same thing. And, of course, the Alltel ads began running well before Verizon was pressured into making this change. So, while it’s technically accurate that these ads are false advertising now, it seems a bit excessive to describe them as “pure fiction,” when they were absolutely true until just a few months ago.

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Companies: alltel, verizon

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Comments on “Verizon Wireless's Outrage Over Alltel Ad A Bit Misplaced”

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JS Beckerist (profile) says:

Re: Re: Swiss Chz

No way. Buy a new phone off ebay, you’ll pay $50 for something that was 300 a year ago (Razr’s are almost NOTHING now.)

Take it to Verizon and make them switch your number over. They can’t, under any circumstances FORCE you to extend your contract.

…only if you buy a phone at a “reduced contract” price (which is bull anyway, they’re marked up like CRAZY) will you have to extend or sign a contract

Huckleberry Finn says:


Why is it that the wireless phone industry is pretty much the only one left with contracts. You dont have to sign a contract with a cable or internet provider anymore, why do we allow the cellphone companies to require us signing their contract?

Look at the similar companies in Europe, they have so much more freedom then us American’s do with our crappy companies.

Steve says:

Long contracts are Un-American

They should make them all month to month. It is a free country. Why are we beholden to them? Free up the air waves and let more people provide new plans and create more cometition. Since when does free enterprise mean you have 3 big carriers to choose from and they are all the same when it coems to contract length BS> Fight the Power People… Altel….. sue verizon for libel for calling your ad pure fiction

Surprise Surprise says:

Re: Long contracts are Un-American

Even though America is a “free enterprise” system, the government regulates parts of the economy for the benefit of the consumer. Also, Alltel wireless is one of five U.S. carriers: Verizon, Sprint, AT&T, and a mom and pop wireless company in Kentucky. Also, “libel” would be a word best used to talk about Alltel, because they continue to run these comercials when you can choose not to let the companies “Control your world” by not taking their cheap, two year contract phone. Fianlly, long contracts are incredibly american, most of us have home loan CONTRACTS, car loan CONTRACTS, and an entire industry is devoted to renting people things, contracting them to pay for the item over long periods of time.

Cem Kaner says:

Re: Re: Long contracts are Un-American

These carriers are still using any excuse to force customers to extend contracts. A few weeks ago, my wife and I tried to change our ATT phone contract from her name to my name. I got my “free” phone from Cingular about 4 years ago. We’ve been on a month-to-month contract for a couple of years. To switch the name of the person who signs the check from the wife to the husband, ATT demanded a two year contract and wouldn’t negotiate it. I don’t have a credit problem or a history of service problems with ATT, this was just an attempt at bullying. (Result: I canceled my service and bought a 10-cents-per-minute phone instead.) It was amusing reading an article in Consumer Reports saying that the carriers had stopped doing this a few months ago. It is even more amusing hearing them call people liars when we say they are still doing it.

GPK3 says:

Why is it people want free phones from companies? You wouldn’t walk into Wal-Mart and at the checkout haggle the clerk and tell him/her you want this loaf of bread free. Why do it at a cell phone company? People nowadays want everything for free in By-God-America. Just because you have been with a cellco for 15 years and are happy with the service, doesn’t entitle you to a free phone. Jut the same with Wal-Mart and K-Mart. You wouldn’t go to K-Mart and say “Ive been shopping here for 12 years, I want $150 in free merchandise or I’m taking my business to Wal-Mart.” C’mon…. you get what you pay for.

dorpass says:

Re: GPK rant

Comparing a loaf of bread to a cell phone, that’s genius. So when was the last time an existence of one loaf of bread helped anyone make money for 2 years straight? It is in the interest of the cell phone companies for the consumer to have a cell phone, so that you, you know, they could use their service and make money! That’s where free/cheap phones come in. And for those that claim price of the phones would be $300-1000 without “subsidy,” you need to look at production costs of electronics nowadays and get a clue.

GPK3 says:

Re: Re: GPK rant

Actually, Dorpis, you are incorrect. A loaf of bread brings revenue to a company that is selling it. I don’t think you quite understand in your one tracked mind the comparison. As far as it being compared to an actually cell phone for 2 years, it’s the same.
– why go to a cellco and get service?
. brand, loyalty, great selection, quality

– why go to K-mart and buy a loaf of bread?
. brand, loyalty, great selection, quality

If you want out of a contract you pay your cancellation fee and move on. If you don’t like buying bread at K-mart you go to Wal-Mart and take your service there.

Seems to me, Dorpass that you need to come out of your parent’s basement more often and observe how society works, rather than beating off to female wood elves in World of Warcraft and making idiot comments on a message board.

Anonymous Coward says:

Contracts on old plans

If you wanted to change your plan allotment minutes only and stay on the same type of plan, then you never needed to extend contract. A contract was required (before they finally got smart) only if you changed to a new/updated plan that came out after your current type of plan. Of course they would not offer this information to you. The reps need to make their monthy contract quota…. But it’s a stretch to say that is was “absolutely true” a few months back. But none the less good story Mike.

Alltel buyout victim says:

Unlock Phones and Lose the Contracts

Doing away with the contracts is a great idea as long as people will pay $100 – $1,000 for the handsets. Unfortunately, many won’t pay much or anything for them.

The market’s saturation level is so high now, that the people who would pay a real retail price are severely outnumbered by the people who can’t/won’t pay retail for a handset. The wireless industry cannot afford to lose all of those customers and their monthly charges.

Even if the Cellco’s did do away with contracts completely (and they don’t need to, as long as they allow outright purchase), every carrier locks down the “features” on the handsets. Verizon is the worst that I’ve seen, but Alltel does it too. Try using Bluetooth to transfer music or pictures. It won’t happen. They lock your content to the handset so you have to pay them for data transfer.

Yes, there are exceptions, but not advising customers that they can buy a phone outright and locking down retail devices customers purchase is not the answer. Maybe someday the companies will realize that.

weirdworks says:

Ignorance is bliss

Did anyone wonder how Alltel makes money if phones cost $1000 and they don’t require a contract?

Did anyone wonder how the iPhone cost about $270 to make initially netting Apple a 50% margin but other crappy phones are supposed to be $1000?

In Europe there is a strong competition in both the phone and carrier market as you can use any phone on any network. Phones are dirt cheap and carriers actually compete as opposed to just locking people in contracts.

Whoever came up with the unsubsidized phone price of $1000 is an idiot.

Craig says:

Early termination fees

Pigs at the trough indeed. We just transfered service from Verizon on the day we THOUGHT our two-year contract expired. Silly us. We were four days off, and now Verizon wants us to pay a $700 early termination fee for our three phones — for the four days we were off. If we’d started the plan in November of 2006 instead of May, it would have been prorated…

wirelessguru says:

GET a CLUE, GET EDUCATED, Get Something....

Contracts, contracts, contracts!!! Every wirless company sells devices at a loss because we the CONSUMER demand low, low prices. When a company sells something at a loss and they are in the business to make money they must have reassurance they have return on investment. That’s why there are contracts! Don’t want a contract? Buy a device at Retail price, not a 1 or 2 year contract price. Buy one from Ebay. Wireless companies provide wireless service, they are not in the phone business. They would just assume you bring in your own device and sign up. If you do this you will not need a contract. So pony up the bucks! do you really think that wireless companies purchase Blackberry’s for $99? News flash….they cost much more! Try $235 – $350. Go ask Krogers or your favorite grocery if they will sell your next basket of groceries at a substancial loss on just the promise that you will be back again??? Try it…..they will think you are crazy. Other utilities such as cable don’t have contracts because they don’t sell you equipment at a loss.

Jay Thomas says:


I’ve used Verizon for three years. It stunk but it was the only way to get online. I live where cable, local internet is not possible. Verizons plans are expensive and lock you into what you really don’t want. Take their USB broadband modem and get 230k max cap on the network. I got 130. Cost was $270. Access was $84/mo.

Went to Alltel and got a UT150 which goes to 3.1m and it was free. Plan is $60/mo. NO problems, no hassles, warranty, insurance and replacement is in the contract. Wasn’t with Verizon. Now at 850kb to 950kb/sec with 3 bars.

Verizons modems are trash.

ynattirbknox says:

No Contract

Look I have been with Verizon for almost 3 years now, and I have probably changed phones 10 times in those years. And I have never had to extend my contract. Once you become a reliable customer you can bypass the contract. They do contracts only because they don’t want to be just giving phones away to people who are going to leave in 2 months. So get over it, your whole life is going to be full of contracts.

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