New Jersey Sues Verizon Over "Free LCD TV" Disaster

The State of New Jersey has filed a lawsuit against Verizon, alleging that its marketing, sales, billing and customer service practices for its FiOS television, telephone and internet services are deceptive and misleading. The lawsuit is partly in response to the now-infamous “Free LCD” disaster.

Back in March of last year, we noticed a very large amount of complaints about Verizon failing to deliver on a promised “Free LCD TV” for new FiOS customers. We suggested that people complain to their state’s attorney general. It appears that of the states, NJ chose to listen.

The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs says:

The state alleges that Verizon failed to provide advertised promotional gifts such as flat-screen televisions when consumers signed up for FiOS service. The State also alleges that Verizon charged consumers higher prices for service than prices quoted in door-to-door solicitations and advertisements and also charged activation fees after consumers were told that such would be waived.

“FiOS is touted for its clearer picture but Verizon obscured the truth from potential customers in its advertising and sales pitches,” Attorney General Anne Milgram said. “Deception and misrepresentations have no place in the marketplace and we will hold businesses accountable when they violate the public’s trust.”

Here are a few of the problems New Jersey has with Verizon.

New Jersey alleges that Verizon engaged in the following conduct:

  • Quoting one price for FiOS Service in door-to-door solicitations, direct mail advertising and otherwise, then billed consumers at a higher price;
  • Charging consumers an activation fee, after the salesperson in the door-to-door solicitation waived the fee;
  • Charging consumers for services, such as movie packages, that were never ordered;
  • Representing that movie packages were free, then billing consumers for such services;
  • Advertising promotional gifts, yet failing to provide consumers with the opportunity to contract for the types of FiOS service necessary to obtain the promotional gifts;
  • Failing to provide consumers with the rewards letter or other instructions necessary to receive their promotional gifts;
  • Failing to provide consumers with a copy of their signed contract;
  • Representing that consumers are entitled to receive promotional gifts, but failing to provide promotional gifts;
  • Billing consumers at a price other than that initially quoted;
  • Failing to honor a consumer’s request to cancel the FiOS service; and
  • Making it very difficult (i.e. long delays, varied telephone numbers) for consumers to reach a customer service representative in order to address or resolve issues as to promotional gifts, services and/or billing.

Verizon’s spokesperson called the allegations “just over-the-top, and in many cases just plain wrong.” They claimed that they are looking forward to “sitting down with the (Attorney General’s office) shortly to try and set the record straight because right now, we believe, many of her allegations are flawed.”

The Attorney General’s statement also noted that, to date, the Division has received 266 consumer complaints related to FiOS marketing and sales.

A FiOS complaint form and survey can be filled out on the Division’s web site. Consumers also can file complaints with the Division by calling 1-800-242-5846 (within N.J.) or 1-973-504-6200.

If you didn’t get your TV, or any of the other promotional gifts that have been promised to new FiOS customers, let these people know about it.

State Sues Verizon Over Deceptive FiOS Sales and Marketing Practices [NJDCA]
(Photo:Ben Popken)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.