AT&T Sues Verizon Over 'There's A Map For That' Ad Campaign

from the doesn't-like-the-maps dept

Recently, Verizon came up with a rather clever ad campaign, mocking the iPhone ads that claim "there's an app for that" with ads that showcase Verizon's wider 3G footprint, claiming "there's a map for that," and showing the two services' 3G coverage maps side by side:
It does a nice job poking fun at one of AT&T's weaker points: its mobile network infrastructure. But apparently, AT&T is not happy with the ad campaign and has sued Verizon over those ads, claiming that it uses an unfair comparison. That's because the maps only show 3G coverage, and Verizon has significantly greater 3G coverage. However, AT&T feels that the map showing its coverage implies, falsely, that AT&T has no coverage outside of its 3G coverage areas. While you can see why AT&T would make this complaint, it does make you wonder if it's really worth the effort to sue. All it's really doing is attracting a lot more attention to the original ad, which does accurately state that it's talking about 3G coverage, not overall coverage, though you can see why some people might not realize that AT&T's network also includes non-3G areas.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    Lisa (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 12:15am

    Damn those pirates

    They stole apple's and and defaced it.

    Off with their heads!

     

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  2.  
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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 1:03am

    Should get tossed...probably won't

    AT&T has a bad history with these commercials. A while back, I recall them suing Verizon over the claim "Fewest dropped calls", and Sprint over "Best call quality" - claiming these were unfair comparisons, or something similar. Then, when they lost in court, they got very quiet about it for a while.

    So AT&T sells "coverage" - which is actually better than VZW, and Verizon sells "Speed and 3G density" - which is better than AT&T. All it does is signal to the public that Verizon is probably right, and AT&T is scared.

    I hope Verizon wins, then runs an add clarifying that a judge agreed that AT&T's 3G coverage is only 20% of Verizon's. Put a little cost on AT&T's plate.

     

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  3.  
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    bob, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 1:05am

    I Had AT&T

    A GSM phone when they had been around for a couple of years or so.
    Great coverage over the areas I was traveling for work.
    Never had a problem with AT&T GSM.
    Currently not a big portable phone user.
    If I ever have a great need for a new traveling phone I will look at Verizon first.

     

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  4.  
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    scarr (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 1:18am

    It wouldn't pass a "moron in a hurry" test, but advertising is all about telling the part of the story that makes you(r client) look good. Verizon didn't misrepresent the facts, and it shouldn't be held accountable because many people aren't savvy enough to understand what the distinction is.

     

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  5.  
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    Griff (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 1:53am

    So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    If I understand this correctly, we're not talking here about someone "copying a commercial without permission" or "passing off". Simply a claim of unfair or inaccurate advertising.

    So remind me again why this is on TechDirt ?

     

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

  6.  
    identicon
    Jaws4theRevenge, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 2:00am

    Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    Well, it's about AT&T and Verizon, two tech companies, engaging in a legal battle over supposed false advertising, hence the dirt. Do you see what I did there?

     

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  7.  
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    Ilfar, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 2:01am

    Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    Well I found it relevant to my interests, so in my self-centric view of the world this belongs here. ;)

     

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  8.  
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    BearGriz72 (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 2:37am

    Bad Idea

    AT&T - Welcome to the world of The Streisand effect

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    AllRise, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 2:44am

    At&t VS. Verizon

    The At&t VS. Verizon case is now online at the AllRise court. Join the debate and cast your vote – http://bit.ly/AllRise269

     

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  10.  
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    John Doe, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 4:09am

    People need a thicker skin...

    ...and better 3G network coverage. :) I thought the ad was funny and I was not confused by it. I knew they were talking about 3G coverage only as they plainly state it in their ad. I am with Scarr above, Verizon should not be held accountable if people don't know the difference, only if they made a false claim which they did not.

    Oh, and AT&T should also have to pay Verizon's court costs when AT&T loses this battle. But alas, the courts don't work that way.

     

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  11.  
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    senshikaze (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 4:38am

    I have att and i promise you, the non-3g is almost like not having phone >_>

     

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  12.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:07am

    wwwaaaaa....
    You are comparing your apples to our apples but we also have oranges!

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Kenneth Welch, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:16am

    Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    you haven't read this blog for very long, have you? it's about technology, and has multiple categories. "legal issues" and "misuse of technology" are only 2, and happen to be very common considering the time we're living in.

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    NullOp, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:23am

    AT&T

    AT&T...just another company with the "Sue 'em" business model.

     

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  15.  
    identicon
    taoareyou, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:45am

    Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    Click on ABOUT at the top of the page and you will find:

    "...the Techdirt blog uses a proven economic framework to analyze and offer insight into news stories about changes in government policy, technology and legal issues that affect companies ability to innovate and grow."

     

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

  16.  
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    DCX2, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:55am

    AT&T must be feeling the heat...

    Now that Verizon is going to have a good Android phone, I bet AT&T is scared people will start jumping ship.

     

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  17.  
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    imbrucy (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Frankly AT&T shouldn't be complaining that they only show 3G, because frankly they EVDO network is utterly useless. It may have better coverage but it's so pathetically slow you will go insane long before a single page loads.

     

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  18.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 6:10am

    Verizon shooting over the bow

    Frankly, Verizon isn't usually this forthcoming in it's ads.

    They didn't even have the Test Guy in the ad, or mention their 70M users in the ad.

    In all actuality, it's probably that Verizon's own tests show that someone has else has grown significantly more square mile 3G coverage than AT&T and are just trying to be nice. The lawsuit will allow Verizon to show under oath, in court, that AT&T isn't the #2 network, but perhaps now they rank #3 or #4.

    Verizon didn't become #1 by acquiring companies and being stupid.

     

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  19.  
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    dac, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 6:13am

    Why sue?

    I have AT&T, and it's funny that they are crying about Verizon showing the 3G map comparison, because it is actually quite accurate.

    You can go to AT&Ts own website and see the SAME map. I haven't checked it in a while, but it's pretty close, right down to the blue color to designate 3G (I believe they use orange for standard coverage).

    Verizon is trying more and more to push smartphones and high speed options like their video services and such, so why wouldn't they spin the advertising to highlight a strong point?

    I have a Curve, so 3G at the moment is of no use to me, but when I get an Onyx or any other 3G capable phone, I might feel the heat of that map if I travel.

     

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  20.  
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    Verve (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 6:58am

    Re: People need a thicker skin...

    But remember that you're a more educated consumer... you understand the distinction between 3G and non-3G technologies and what that ad is actually saying.

    Verizon is banking on the average consumer seeing the two maps, and going ... ZOMG, AT&T has no coverage!!! and switching providers based on gut reaction.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:11am

    Re: Re: People need a thicker skin...

    "Come In, Come In, said the Spider to the Fly"


    ...and you fell for it.

    If you were smart, you'd get your ass out of there.

     

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

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:30am

    The add clearly states that the map is for 3G coverage. All the apps referenced are internet based. I really don't see where AT&T is coming from here.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    PRMan, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:33am

    Re:

    I haven't had any slowness problems with Sprint's EVDO. It seems almost as fast as my broadband...

     

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  24.  
    identicon
    John Doe, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:39am

    Re: Re: People need a thicker skin...

    So what? False advertising is illegal, making real claims is not. AFAIK, there is nothing in the law that says viewer ignorance should be taken into account. Verizon did not make any false claims and therefore should be free and clear.

     

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  25.  
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    Steven (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Re: Re: People need a thicker skin...

    I could see a complaint if '3G' was in small print at the bottom with a little '*', but I count '3G' prominently showing up in text and speech nine times. Verizon is being completely above board here (well, at least in this commercial).

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    That's plane stupid. Can't AT&T find a map that looks good for them (number of users, GSM coverage, whatever) and do their own version of "there's a map for that"? That would be the smart choice. The other smart choice would be to ignore the campaign completely, but I think that's asking too much.

     

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  27.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:56am

    Although I agree that AT&T is stupid for suing over the ad, I call the ad bullshit. I don't believe that Verizon has 3G coverage over 90%+ of its overall coverage area. I believe they're just showing their overall data coverage map(ie including "edge" type areas) and comparing it to AT&T's 3G only map. Notice if you go to Verizon's site they provide no 3G only coverage map and the link they provide to the 3G comparison is just a copy of their tv ad. That and if you compare the maps they show in their tv ad their map shows way more than the "5x more coverage" than AT&T's. Just my initial thoughts from when I saw the ad myself.

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 8:00am

    Re: Re: Re: People need a thicker skin...

    The ad was about 3G coverage.

    I'll put my money on Northeastern Attorneys over Texas Attorneys any day.

    AT&T lost. Settle or withdraw. It will save face. You already have enough things going on buying congresspeople and such.

     

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  29.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re: Re: People need a thicker skin...

    You don't get it do you?

    Verizon runs all their ads through legal before they air them.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    MattP, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Re:

    Verizon also has oranges and if they showed a complete coverage map it would be just as ridiculous as the 3G coverage maps being discussed.

     

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  31.  
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    Vincent Clement, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 8:51am

    Why would AT&T want to attract more attention to those ads?

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 9:34am

    Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    The four replies to Griff's comment did not get his facetious joke. Griff was pointing out that lately Tech Dirt mainly post IP and Copyright related stories. It's "odd" to see something, tech, but different than the recent norm.

     

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

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    does not matter what you believe. Look at their map online. What they claim to show, is actually fact.

     

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  34.  
    identicon
    Luci, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 9:45am

    Re:

    So, we are to imply that just because you cannot navigate their website that they're lying? Try again.

    http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/CoverageLocatorController?requesttype=NEWREQUEST

    The re you go. ALL of their coverage types.

     

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  35.  
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    Matt S (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:25am

    Re: attention

    I think everyone is overlooking the idea that if AT&T thinks the commercial implies that they have no coverage other than (limited) 3G, they are getting what they want whether the lawsuit works or not. It seems clear that Verizon did nothing wrong, but AT&T wants to refocuse attention to the fact that they have both 3G and non-3G coverage, which is more than the commercial's maps show.

     

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  36.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:43am

    Re: Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    I did like that.

     

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  37.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:44am

    Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    ...because techdirt does not only exist for IP trolls?

     

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

  38.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:46am

    Re: Re: So this is not a copyright or IP battle

    Actually two of them were equally facetious, so..who's to say? But let's continue to analyze the hell out of it because, that's fun, too!

     

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

  39.  
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    Matt (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Verizon lies

    Verizon has no 3G coverage in Alaska. They do not operate in Alaska. Nonetheless, they show substantial coverage in Alaska in the ad. AT&T has extensive 3G coverage in Alaska. They used to buy it from someone else under partnership, but for more than a year they have been relying on their own capacity. Verizon's coverage maps are inaccurate, and their portrayal of AT&T's coverage map is also inaccurate.

    In any event, both the Lanham Act and state-law "little Lanham Acts" protect against "deceptive" advertising, not just "false" advertising. Deception can include merely misleading statements. If an average, reasonable consumer might be mislead by the advertisement to believe that Verizon has more coverage than AT&T (not just 3G coverage,) than no amount of disclaimer by Verizon will cure the fact that it is misleading (if, indeed, that claim is not true). Among other things, the ad contrasts a Verizon user with an AT&T user, and suggests that the AT&T user is unable to use their mobile device at all because of the exceptionally poor coverage in an obvious urban area. This is just BS.

    AT&T has a good case here. And we should be pleased that AT&T is suing for the right reason - to correct inaccuracies in the advertisement. They _could_ have sued on some whacked out infringement theory, asserting ownership or registration of "There's an app for that" and asserting that Verizon was disparaging their famous mark.

     

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  40.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: People need a thicker skin...

    Oh, TX attorneys will kick yer ass any day just as good as any other, but it damn sure helps to have a case.

     

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  41.  
    identicon
    Jason, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 10:59am

    Re: Verizon lies

    Grrrlllphmmmmgrrrrryaahhhwwwnn..I'm sorry, what?

     

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  42.  
    identicon
    tubes, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Re: AT&T must be feeling the heat...

    And they should be scared. The iPhone will be old news in a few days. I have the G1 & while I do love the phone (I should say the software, phone is too slow & T-Mobile's 3G coverage sucks). I can imagine how awesome Android 2.0 will be on Verizon's 3G network with the VCast. Just as long as Verizon doesn't screw with the Android software. That's the only thing I hate about Verizon they screw up all of the phones software & put their garbage on it.

     

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  43.  
    identicon
    tubes, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    When is AT&T/Apple going to sue for the "iDon't" commercials?

     

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  44.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 2:26pm

    Re: Re:

    So, we are to imply that just because you cannot navigate their website that they're lying? Try again.

    No, if you look at the link you provided which I obviously saw before I posted, is that it says NO WHERE on there "click here to see 3G coverage". The only option they have is for "Broadband Coverage". That could mean anything, including 2G etc. If you bothered to look at AT&T's coverage maps, their map that includes all "broadband" data coverage including 2G etc looks almost identical to Verizon's "broadband" coverage map.

    So in answer to your question, no...we are not supposed to assume they're lying because I can't navigate a website, we're supposed to assume they're lying because you can't read a website and just assume what they're saying in print means what they imply in some stupid commercial.

    On top of that if you read the fine print underneath the maps on Verizon's site you get to this nice little tidbit:"Some of the coverage area includes networks run by other carriers; some of the coverage depicted is based on their information and public sources and we cannot ensure its accuracy." So even if all of that coverage is 3G, it's not even all their network.

     

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  45.  
    identicon
    Craig, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 2:49pm

    Stupid

    Maybe if AT&T spent more time putting up towers than filing lawsuits, they wouldn't have to worry about this in the first place. I'm an iPhone switcher (to Blackberry) -- not because of Apple, but because of AT&T. AT&T is pissed because Verizon is not showing AT&T's edge network on the map -- ok, that isn't the point. No one wants to be on the EDGE network, ever. It's certainly nothing to brag about.

     

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  46.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Nov 4th, 2009 @ 3:26pm

    Re: Re:

    What about "Notice if you go to Verizon's site they provide no 3G only coverage map" didn't you understand?

     

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  47.  
    identicon
    Jesse, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 5:47pm

    If AT&T is going to sell 3G phones and then give out an unqualified map of their coverage, I think it is perfectly reasonable for Verizon to step in and make a correction.

     

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  48.  
    identicon
    ch, Nov 4th, 2009 @ 7:22pm

    Verizon simply does NOT have an answer to the iPhone or the millions of users that at&t has taken away from Verizon...tactics like these try to confuse bubba home user.

     

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  49.  
    identicon
    tubes, Nov 5th, 2009 @ 8:15am

    Re:

    Yes they do & its the Droid phone! It will be released tomorrow Nov. 6th. iPhone is dead in the water! Droid is completely open for everyone. Unlike the iPhone.

     

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

  50.  
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    The Infamous Joe (profile), Nov 5th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Now, I may be wrong, but I think you're confused because Verizon's network is all 3G, and only part of AT&T's is. So, Verizon's 3G map and it's coverage map is the same, and AT&T's isn't.

    Furthermore, the non-colored-in parts of Verizon's map would actually indicate no service, whereas AT&T's only indicates no 3G coverage. (I think they claim 98% coverage in the US, or something like that.)

    Personally, as a iPhone/AT&T user, I'd much rather AT&T focus their money less on lawsuits and more on upgrading their shitty (as shown accurately in the Verizon ad) 3G coverage.

    Not that it matters much, if Verizon doesn't mess up the Droid, I'll be switching soon anyway.

     

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  51.  
    identicon
    mauigixxer, Jan 5th, 2010 @ 10:27pm

    Re: no answer to iphone

     

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  52.  
    identicon
    Rick, Feb 11th, 2010 @ 6:38am

    AT&T is a bunch of blatant liars

    Fact: almost all of Verizon's coverage IS 3g
    Fact: If you don't get coverage on your phone on a Verizon network, its most likely your phone, as every antenna is designed different.
    Fact: (maybe not as important) AT&T is IMPOSSIBLE to talk to on the phone. Useless and uncaring.
    Fact: Verizon's map BLATANTLY points out 3G COVERAGE! not overall coverage. AT&T is doing its infamous suing!
    Fact: AT&T BLATANTLY lies about usage of phone and internet at the same time.
    Fact: AT&T BLATANTLY lies about its "faster" 3G network.
    if its faster its because less people use it, cause last i checked, 3G was 3G. Maybe they should focus on Sprints 4G next, and claim their 3G is actually 4G and its still faster.... FAIL!

    I only hope to see AT&T fall flat on its face and get bought out. For years they have belittled their customers, making people think they have to fall in line with their claims. If AT&T wins it is because they have a better lawyer and the fact that our court system is VERY corrupt. Just look towards the Monsanto cases to point out the true meaning of corrupt.
    AT&T should be put out of business for being complete incompetent lying bastards.... sorry for the harsh words, but I CAN'T STAND THEM!
    The business is just like dealing with Chevy. Speaking of blatant liars.

     

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

  53.  
    identicon
    Guest, Aug 1st, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Verizon is sooooooooooooooooooooooo annoying

    Those verizon commercials made me sooooo mad that they lie about ATT when i think ATT is better and more reliable than studpid verizon

     

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


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