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.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    The Swiss Cheese Monster, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 4:04am

    If they "stopped" in October, then I have a beef with Verizon because I made a change to my contract in December and they made me add two more years.

     

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  2.  
    identicon
    Scott, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 4:11am

    Re: Swiss Chz

    You still have to do that. I just did. You can only go month to month with the same plan and same phone, unless you want to pay $300 for a new phone.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Alfred E. Neuman, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 5:05am

    And in related news ...

    Pigs at the trough argue about who stinks the most.
    Film at eleven.

     

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  4.  
    identicon
    Vincent Clement, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 5:31am

    New Business Model

    Don't improve the customer experience. Don't give the customer what they want. Don't add value to your product or service.

    Just file a lawsuit.

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    Huckleberry Finn, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 5:39am

    Why

    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.

     

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  6.  
    identicon
    Bob, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 6:06am

    Free Phones

    I think the reason the cellcos would give is that they give away phones so they have to recoup that loss over the life of the contract. It is probably bogus but that is their argument.

     

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  7.  
    identicon
    Steve, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 6:26am

    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

     

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  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 6:44am

    Re: Why

    It is because by signing the contract you are subsidizing the cost of the phone. They could do away with contracts but then you would bitch that cell phones cost $300 to $1000 instead of $0 to $400

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Chris, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 7:12am

    Re: Why

    They still require contracts because they still can guarantee a certain amount of money from you. The best part... the discount on the phones suck. A couple hundred dollar a month plan and the least they could do would be to throw in a few nice phones.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Danny, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 7:23am

    Re: And in related news ...

    I think this is a more intersting story.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    GPK3, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 8:04am

    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.

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Surprise Surprise, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 8:21am

    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.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    dorpass, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 8:35am

    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.

     

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  14.  
    icon
    JS Beckerist (profile), Jan 4th, 2008 @ 8:38am

    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

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    Cheeeeeeese, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 9:35am

    Re:

    Next time don't give in to their pressure tactics so easily, that's why they had this hold over us in the first place because we let them!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 9:45am

    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.

     

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  17.  
    identicon
    Alltel buyout victim, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 10:20am

    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.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    weirdworks, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 10:45am

    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.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Razr's suck, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: Re: Swiss Chz

    Razrs are "almost nothing" because they suck. Probably the worst phone ever made.

     

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  20.  
    identicon
    Verizon Blows, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 12:28pm

    Verizon is EVIL...

    I never agreed to a contract extension and never signed anything and they extended my contract 2 years without notice then charged me 375 for breaking the contract.. that's why they went from first to last....

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Cem Kaner, Jan 4th, 2008 @ 1:49pm

    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.

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    GPK3, Jan 5th, 2008 @ 8:28am

    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.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Craig, May 15th, 2008 @ 2:11pm

    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...

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    wirelessguru, Jun 5th, 2008 @ 3:56am

    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.

     

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  25.  
    identicon
    Jay Thomas, Jun 14th, 2008 @ 9:33pm

    Verizon

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    ynattirbknox, Jul 3rd, 2008 @ 2:33pm

    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.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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