by Mike Masnick
Tue, Oct 23rd 2007 5:40pm
Back in 2005, we noted that Verizon Wireless was following the tactics of others in advertising "unlimited" wireless broadband services, while the truth was they were quite limited. As people later worked out, despite the claim of "unlimited," VZW was cutting off anyone who used more than 5 gigs of data per month. That's pretty limited, actually. When confronted about this, the company tried to argue that by "unlimited" it really meant "It's unlimited amounts of data for certain types of data." And they followed it up with this gem: "It's very clear in all the legal materials we put out." Right, see, that's the legal materials -- the stuff you know no one reads. Yet in the marketing materials it's quite clear that you're claiming "unlimited" and that has a pretty clear meaning. After many such complaints, Verizon Wireless finally started to back down from the false claim of "unlimited" earlier this year. Turns out that it wasn't because of any realization that lying to your customers is a bad idea, but because NY State was investigating the practice. NY has now fined Verizon Wirelss $1 million to be given out to customers who had their service unfairly terminated for actually believing that "unlimited" meant "unlimited." Of course, Comcast might want to start paying attention right about now. While lawyers everywhere are rushing to file lawsuits over its decision to jam broadband user accounts, before that happened Comcast was famous for many, many years for being one of the biggest ISPs to lie about offering unlimited service. It's a story that comes up in the press every year or so, and every year Comcast gives its own doublespeak about how it only cuts off the worst "abusers." However, it's still false advertising to claim unlimited service when that's not what you supply -- and it's hardly "abuse" if people are merely doing what you told them they could do.
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