Verizon Tried A TV Service Bait-And-Switch On My Parents

Corey, who is trying to help his Brooklyn parents improve their TV setup, feels his folks were baited and switched by Verizon, displaying a cheap deal on its site that went away after he entered his parents’ address.

He writes:

Verizon just wired my parents’ apartment building in Brooklyn with FIOS and they were looking to switch from Cablevision because FIOS seemingly offers more channels at a similar price and plus my mom is really angry with Cablevision because of the Food Network dispute.

So I figured I would help them out with setting up FIOS, since they do not use the internet and I figured they had a better offer online. I went to the FIOS website and clicked over to the “FIOS TV Plans” page, which can be found here.

My parents do not have HD and are looking for the lowest priced package possible, so I was happy to see “FIOS Essentials TV” at $47.99/month. This package offers many more channels than they currently get with Cablevision for about the same price, it is $10 less than the next package (FIOS TV Extreme HD at $57.99) which includes HD service. (There is also a cheaper package that includes Spanish language channels, along with some of the basic English speaking channels.)

I went to sign them up and entered their address in the appropriate fields. Once their address was verified as being available for FIOS service, the only 2 options presented to me were the HD & Spanish language packages. The “FIOS Essentials TV” plan was not there.

So I called up 888-GET-FIOS and spoke to a very helpful woman working in the Buffalo area who verified for me that “FIOS Essentials TV is not available downstate.” I said to her that the plan is listed on the website for all the public to see PRIOR to you entering your address and if it is some sort of special pricing for certain regions, the general public shouldn’t be exposed to it. THIS IS A CLASSIC BAIT & SWITCH. She said something along the lines of “it probably says service not available in all areas in the small print.” My response was “that once you advertise a certain price to the public, you shouldn’t pull it off of the table once you find out where I live.”

I get that TV & phone providers offer different deals to different regions. Stores do it, fast food restaurants do it. Its a common marketing tactic and I have no problem with that at all. But you should keep that information a secret from people who are not supposed to get the better deal. When you go on Verizon’s cell phone plans website here: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/index.html , they ask for your zip code BEFORE you see all the plans available to you.

Once you tell the general public you offer something and then don’t allow me to purchase it, that is a shady business practice and Verizon should not be allowed to get away with that. Further, why would you force people without HD TVs to have to pay $10 extra for something they don’t need/want? I have Time Warner, which gives free HD service. DirecTV charges people extra for HD but they don’t force you into it based on where you live.

In their ads, Verizon likes to portray themselves as a great alternative to the traditional cable companies but they are acting no different and possibly worse in the way they treat their customers. I thought Consumerist would love to know about this and I am also going to report this to the BBB, NYC DoITT, and NYS Attorney General.

Is this a bait-and-switch in your book? And if you’re in Brooklyn, what service offers the best deal for Corey’s parents?