Verizon Accused Of Illegally Marketing Retention Offers To Customers Who Defect

Apparently there are FCC regulations that prevent companies from busting out the retention offers if you’ve already decided to defect to another provider, and three cable companies are bringing charges against Verizon for allegedly violating these regulations.

The complaint states that in violation of FCC rules, Verizon used its knowledge of switching customers — through requests to have their phone numbers moved or “ported” to the new provider — to ply them with “price incentives and gift cards” to stay with Verizon.

“While some customers rebuffed Verizon’s inducements to stay while the port requests were pending, thousands of customers accepted Verizon’s offers, after which Verizon cancelled their orders for [cable VoIP],” the MSOs’ complaint states.

Here’s Verizon’s response:

“This filing should be seen for what it is — another cable company effort to block consumer choice as competition heats up,” said Verizon spokesman David Fish. “Verizon’s retention marketing is lawful, does not interfere with number porting and, most important, it allows consumers to choose a better alternative. It’s hard to believe that cable would attempt to block consumers from receiving information about additional services and lower prices.”

So in other words, port your number to a cable company and watch the deals roll in.

Operators File FCC Complaint Against Verizon Over VoIP [Multichannel]

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  1. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Wait, how is Verizon canceling people’s orders with a separate company?

  2. DMDDallas says:

    What is the purpose of those regulations? It sounds like it prevents consumers from possibly getting better deals.

  3. Jonbo298 says:

    Verizon does this all the time with cell phone portings, in terms of offering crazy deals. Once in awhile on HowardForums, someone will post they ported to X carrier, but they will get some really good deal if they come back.

  4. TechnoDestructo says:

    @DMDDallas:

    They might be seen as anti-competitive. Like the company is willing to bend over backwards to keep the competition from getting a customer who’s ready to leave, but they’ll screw them as hard as possible as long as they’re under contract. Sure, the customer may learn not to trust them after getting screwed for another two years, but that’s two years more that Verizon didn’t have to actually make an effort at anything other than nickeling and diming.

  5. gamehendge2000 says:

    Somehow Verizon has morphed from the scum of the Earth into the unsung hero in the battle against Comcast, who fought them tooth and nail for that glorious title.

  6. Hrm. Seems like it might be anti-competitive but then again, most competitive moves are anti-competitive at some level or another.

    I had a friend in college who switched his phone monthly to ever larger incentives. I guess that’s before Congress stepped in and pissed on his parade.

  7. fostina1 says:

    well, direct tv gave me free showtime for a year by calling and telling i was going to comcast. wouldnt that be the same thing

  8. Buran says:

    @TechnoDestructo: I’ve gotten “come back” offers from companies before. Not for phone service, but I wasn’t aware that they were illegal.

  9. TechnoDestructo says:

    @PotKettleBlack:

    It’s that they behave in a competitive manner only at those times where it will prevent a rival gaining a customer, since they don’t have to the rest of the time (contracts).

  10. TechnoDestructo says:

    @Buran:

    I’m not aware of it either, I’m just saying I can see the reasoning behind it if they are.

  11. Ghede says:

    Here is what I want to see: Instead of outlawing the retention, allow customers to take the offer to the original choice after canceling and see if they can’t get a better offer. Make it REALLY cutthroat.

  12. GearheadGeek says:

    @fostina1: @Buran: @TechnoDestructo: I think the issue here is that they’re interfering in the number-porting process, which is a regulated process. If you call Verizon to say you’re cancelling, they might make you a retention offer and that would be perfectly legal. If you call CompetitorX and tell them “Port my number from Verizon” and Verizon contacts you as soon as they receive the port request, make you a sweet offer that they wouldn’t have made you unless they realize how close they were to losing your number and then refuses the port request because they talked you into staying AFTER you had started the porting process with another company, it’s anti-competitive.

  13. ThomFabian says:

    @TechnoDestructo:
    How is that different form being competitive up front (before the contract)? At one point or another you approach a company and ask for their best deal, and then you decide whether to take it or leave it (and they decide how low to offer). Why is that process OK at the beginning of your business relationship, but not OK at a point where you are considering severing it?

  14. juri squared says:

    Ohhh. So THAT’S why AT&T let me go without a peep once my number was ported.

  15. JohnMc says:

    Hmm I smell a profit. I set up a dummy cable company. (its easy). For $5 I agree to accept your business and start the termination process. In the meantime you play hard ball on a retention offer which you finally accept. You notify me and I rescind the termination.

    I am sure that somewhere its fraudlent. But no more so than slamming. And you asked me to do this for you.

  16. mrtalent says:

    Huh, that just happened to me. I ported to AT&T, within a few days I had 2 or 3 postcards sent from Verizon to me asking me to come back. I took the bait, cause it was too sweet of a deal.

  17. mikecolione says:

    I work in wireless, and have shopped two verizon wireless stores. Routine shop. I inquired about service and informed them I was under contract with another company. Both times I was surprised as the rep informed me they would pay my cancellation fee if I switched. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.. Last I heard this was illegal. Maybe they’re getting more desperate to hit those new suscriber numbers…

  18. StarWhores says:

    They sent me a “don’t leave us we love you” letter. The deal still wasn’t sweet enough.
    I defected to T-mobile got me a new Blackberry Curve (suck on that iPhone)and haven’t looked back yet.
    Had I known this was illegal I’d have played it differently but still probably not have stayed.
    Ah… the companies we love to hate.

  19. john_nyc says:

    I got one of these when I switch my cell service from Verizon to AT&T. The deal wasn’t great enough to make me take back my Tilt and continue waiting for the 6800, though. The fact that they made the offer never seemed to me to be unfair, though.

  20. Wimpkins says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: By not releasing the number.

  21. RaslDasl says:

    After I put in an order for Comcast Digital Voice I got letter from Verizon sent OVERNIGHT! The sad thing is they were trying to get me to sign up for FIOS which is not even available in my area. I called them anyway just to amuse myself and they just as surprised as me that I got that letter.

  22. bbbici says:

    Uh, what is wrong with trying to win customers back? When i worked at a magazine, we mailed junk and telemarketed former subscribers.

  23. InThrees says:

    It’s simple:

    They extend special offers to people who have already made the decision to jump ship, but customers who have no intention to leave get nothing.

  24. RvLeshrac says:

    @mikecolione:

    I don’t see why that would be illegal.

    The ETF is an attempt to keep you from switching, to throw up a roadblock. They also use it to recoup the cost of the phone. If Verizon wants to pay the ETF, assuming they aren’t charging you for it, then everyone wins.

    Except you, since you’re switching to Verizon.

  25. Brad2723 says:

    Please, vote verizon worst company of 2008

  26. SeasideHeightsOBX says:

    So competition is tough! As I read it the Cable outfits have been having a field day cherry picking Verizon customer lines over the past few years. Now Verizon decides it is time to fight to hold on to it’s customers and these same companies who have had free reign say foul? Come on!!!
    Bundles, cash and price incentives and other offers are Good for the Comsumer.
    Thank you Verizon!!