A U.S. appeals court says it’s just fine that certain telecommunications companies cooperated with the National Security Agency by monitoring customers’ email and phones, upholding a 2008 law. This means they’ve got immunity, rendering 33 lawsuits against them ineffective. [More]
Back in July, Consumer Reports revealed that the FCC would be taking a long, close look at cell phone companies, and this week it’s finally time for that probe.
Annoyed by cell phone exclusivity deals? The federal government may agree with you. The FCC and Department of Justice are both looking into the issue, concerned about limitations on consumer choice and good old-fashioned competition.
Tamera accidentally paid her $134.61 Cox Cable bill twice, but instead of refunding or acknowledging the overpayment, Cox thought it would be fun to send Tamera an extra bill for $269. If she’s lucky, Cox says they’ll consider waiving their late fee.
Vonage charged J.R. $38.94 for a three-hour call transferred from Texas to Los Angeles because Vonage apparently thinks L.A. is somewhere in Algeria. After some digging, J.R. learned that if you transfer a call without adding +1 to the number, Vonage will mistake area codes for country codes and bill at the international rate, even though the calls are domestic.
Cincinnati Bell hates phone books and recently asked Ohio to let them kill their White Pages. Ohio’s Public Utilities Commission, also haters of the ever-wasteful and often useless White Pages, agreed. Now Cincinnati residents won’t get a phone book unless they specially request one. We’re no fans of the White Pages, but the deal isn’t as consumer-friendly as it looks.
Tim enjoyed his unlisted phone number for over thirty years until Charter published it in the local phone book. Now he has two options: ditch his long-time number, or lose his cherished anonymity. Inside, Charter’s apology letter.
“There is no indication of any change in the near future regarding the current state of competition. Market forces have not yet met the challenge of controlling price increases.”
AT&T demanded a $750 deposit from Richard before selling him an iPhone, but couldn’t provide service because they improperly entered his address. Richard spent hours at the AT&T store trying to fix the mistake before deciding to cut his losses and recover the deposit. AT&T promised to refund his money in 7-10 days. That was two months ago. Why the hold-up? AT&T can’t issue the refund because they don’t have Richard’s proper address.
Few consumers realize they can ditch their monopolistic service providers in favor of local, independent telecoms that often offer similar services at competitive rates. These smaller outfits depend on service, not size, as reader Sharpstick recently discovered:
In the Charleston SC area we are fortunate to have local a internet / phone / cable provider called Knology that has made customer service an art form.
Verizon’s next generation of devices will run on the GSM network that will be used by AT&T and T-Mobile, meaning that in a few years, customers with unlocked phones will be able to move between the three providers without purchasing new equipment. Verizon currently uses a CDMA network along with Sprint, but last week announced that it would use the GSM-protocol LTE (Long Term Evolution) for their fourth-generation data services. Note, Verizon’s LTE phones will not be backwards-compatible with the current GSM networks run by AT&T and T-Mobile. Both are expected to support LTE. And don’t expect to see the new phones anytime soon…
Verizon will deign to consider an advisory vote on executive compensation from shareholders starting in 2009. Shareholders demanded the right to vote on executive pay at last year’s annual meeting. Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg’s salary increased 11% last year to $21,309,264. Seidenberg’s salary has risen consistently, unlike Verizon’s profits.
You know telecoms are behaving badly when a business columnist who just a year ago argued for a hands-off government approach has reversed his opinion. “I’ve changed my mind,” he writes. “The behavior of the top telecommunications companies, especially Verizon Communications and AT&T, has convinced me that more government involvement is needed to keep communications free of corporate interference.”
Congress has added its voice to the growing number of critics who have noted that the FCC is misreporting broadband penetration in the U.S. According to eWeek, last Wednesday a House subcommittee “approved legislation to change the Federal Communications Commission’s methodology for determining deployment.” The FCC currently counts a single home in a zip code as representative of the full zip code—so one home having broadband access is considered the same as every home in that area having broadband access. By doing this, they inflate the number of homes with broadband access and present a picture of increased “natural” competition in the market, which is then used by telecoms and lobbyists to argue against policy decisions that don’t favor existing corporations.