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NY Wrests $1 Million From Verizon Wireless 218

Posted by kdawson
from the unlimited-gall dept.
netbuzz writes "Unlimited really means unlimited, even in advertising. So says the New York State Attorney General's Office in squeezing a $1 million settlement out of Verizon Wireless for disconnecting 13,000 of its customers who had the temerity to believe that the unlimited service they were promised came with unlimited service. Verizon's statement explaining the settlement is a gem, too."
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NY Wrests $1 Million From Verizon Wireless

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  • Oh, wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by johndiii (229824) *
    Eighty dollars per person. That'll make a big impact. Take that, Verizon!
    • Re:Oh, wow (Score:5, Insightful)

      by stoolpigeon (454276) * <bittercode@gmail> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:16AM (#21112319) Homepage Journal
      It's all about the lawyers. They'll be taking more than $8 each. Have you seen the ad they are running in magazines for the settlement over Herbalife? Max payout per person - $75 (it will be a lot less). Money going to the law firm - not including costs - over 2 million. Class action suits benefit the law firms and not anyone else.
      • Re:Oh, wow (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Jaysyn (203771) <jaysyn+slashdot&gmail,com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:29AM (#21112467) Homepage Journal
        Class Actions are mostly to smack the company so it will stop doing whatever it's doing.
      • Re:Oh, wow (Score:5, Informative)

        by debrain (29228) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:46AM (#21112669) Journal
        I figure class actions have three predominant purposes.

        First, judicial efficiency: encourage binding settlement of disputes between large numbers of people (having lawyers profit from such settlements encourages lawyers to do this; it's capitalism);

        Second, access to justice: provide remedy to those who would have no access to justice (even if that remedy is itself quite small);

        Three, feedback: modify corporate behaviour.

        While $80.00 per person appears minor, one would hope that a multi-million dollar settlement is relevant to modifying corporate behaviour (which is often dependent on the tax implications to the company of such a settlement). So while the individual remedy is meager, there is other value provided: resolving a large number of outstanding disputes (which would be prohibitively expensive to remedy individually, for the company or for those individuals), and it establishes boundaries for corporate behaviour.

        So while the lawyers do profit, it is my belief that profit is both incidental and necessary to the predominant purpose of effective class action regimes. Mind you, profiteering (night champerty) is poor form, and while the lawyers ought to be entitled to a respectable profit for their efforts (as in all capitalistic efforts), the fees taken ought to be scrutinized based on the work done (difficulty, expertise, time, etc.) and the actual value provided to the class. While I've presented value in class actions above, you've highlighted one of the cornerstones of principle conflict in the regime: the conflict of interest between class members and their legal representation when it comes time to pay the lawyers. I believe the courts ought to approve the fees after the settlement, with the input of an appointed amicus curae who would represent the interests of the class as against their own lawyers.
        • Re:Oh, wow (Score:5, Insightful)

          by SkelVA (1055970) <winhamwr AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:34AM (#21113359) Homepage

          a multi-million dollar settlement is relevant to modifying corporate behaviour


          The settlement was ONE million dollars. That's a drop in the bucket compared to the http://investor.verizon.com/profile/overview.aspx [verizon.com] 88.1 billion they did in revenue last year, which they'll likely surpass this year.

          That's 1/88,100 of their revenue. For comparison, if you're somewhere around the GDP per capita at PPP of the US at $40k per year, that's like charging you 45cents as a fine. Yeah, that's really going to modify some behavior.

          The only people that got any real benefit from this situation were lawyers. Verizon isn't going to stop cutting off accounts that don't make money for them.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by ortholattice (175065)
          What class action suits need is some competition. As it is now, there is (almost?) always only one law firm sending out a mass mailing about the suit, and the only choice a consumer has is (a) to agree to be a class member or (b) to seek independent litigation. Of course no one is going to choose (b) and hire a lawyer, go to court, etc. to get an $80 refund, so in effect the law firm has a monopoly.

          Instead, imagine that you receive 2 or more such mass mailings: law firm 1 promises to seek an $80 refund

          • Re:Oh, wow (Score:5, Funny)

            by beckerist (985855) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:10AM (#21113957) Homepage
            I really hate the "I am not a lawyer" acronym. I always want to reply to:

            Of course IANAL
            With:
            Oh yeah? What's your number?
          • by Alioth (221270)
            For small actions like this, customers can always use the small claims court in most places - no lawyers required. Hundreds of small claims court cases for a company like Verizon would act as a pretty good deterrent over deceptive advertising - it would cost a huge amount for them to defend them all, but a trivial amount for the customers they bilked.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by walt-sjc (145127)
              Ever file anything in small claims court against a large company? Not so easy. Just "serving notice" can be a challenge.
              • Re:Oh, wow (Score:5, Informative)

                by conlaw (983784) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @11:57AM (#21114733)
                "Serving notice" against a company of any size that is legally doing business in your state should not be a problem in this day and age. Check with the Corporations Department or Division in your state: it's usually part of the Secretary of State's office and the few that are not online yet will list a number that you can call. Then just ask, "Who is the registered agent for XYZ Corporation in this state?" Because that's public information, they'll give you the name and address of the registered agent and you can serve your notice on him/her/it.

                IAAL but I try to be a person also.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by debrain (29228)
            I think it's fair to say that the present system of binding without consent is inadequate, and opting out of the class being a class member's only option (so they may pursue legal remedy as an individual).

            One problem with having two law firms working on the same action is that the lawyers cannot guarantee an outcome. One cannot say guarantee $80, the other $100, until a settlement has been reached. In fact, you have to agree to be part of the class of one firm or the other before you know how much you'd get
          • A law firm can propose a $100M class-action suit but that will do the class' plaintifs no/little good if the judge awards their class only $1M in remedies. Lawyers cannot know in advance and afford to make any guaratees about the case's conclusion... making promises could render them liable for misrepresentation.

            Judges ultimately decide the class-action's outcome and that determines what actual compensation the class can possibly hope to get, class-action lawyers only need to do business as usual: do their
        • by russotto (537200)
          You forgot, last but not least:

          4) Publicity for the New York State Attorney General's Office.

          These sorts of suits got Eliot Spitzer the governorship, no reason for the A.G. to stop now.

          And don't they know by now you're supposed to demand one BILLION dollars?
        • by pilgrim23 (716938)
          Fancy way of sayin "Lawyers get rich" Remember the tobacco suits where the Lawyers that won then turned aroudn and sued their clients for a bigger piece of the pie?
      • by Manchot (847225)
        Class action suits benefit the law firms and not anyone else.

        I guess that depends on how you look at class actions. If you look at them as a way for the victims to be compensated for their financial losses, then they aren't beneficial. If you look at them as a way for a group of people to punish a company when the government fails to do so, they're great. With the Justice Department under its current management, there is very little recourse that a consumer has against a misbehaving coroporation, and class
      • The US needs class action lawsuits as an after the fact correction because your government does not, and probably can not be trusted to, protect the consumer/citizen. In fact, considering how weak consumer protection is in the US, without it corporations would start feasting on babies' entrails(*) if it made them any money.

        * cf. John Edwards
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      The verizon TOS is why I use Sprint. I can't get DSL, cable or even FIOS - I'm one of 2 homes on a street, and the companies don't want to lay half a mile of cable (from either direction) to get to us. My 60kB cellmodem is better than dialup.

      When Sprint says "unlimited data" on my cellmodem plan, they actually mean it.

      My net research revealed too many people who'd been bit by Verizon's bad habits. Glad to see the courts have spanked them.

      • by Joebert (946227)
        Verizon is Sprints' half-retarded younger sibling. They haven't quite figured out how to make you thank them for robbing you like Sprint does yet.
    • by timeOday (582209)
      From what I can tell, the settlement doesn't even force Verizon to uphold their end of the bargain by providing unlimited service to those who signed up for it.

      I'll be a lot of wireless customers wish they could welch on their service contract and only get hit for $80.

    • It's all the "Can you understand unlimited now" jokes that'll kill'em
  • As I read this response I couldn't help but hear the voice of the G-Man in my head:

    "We are pleased to have cooperated with the New York Attorney General and to have voluntarily reached this agreement," a company spokesman told Associated Press. "When this was brought to our attention, we understood that advertising for our NationalAccess and BroadbandAccess services could provide more clarity."
  • Assumed Guilt (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn&gmail,com> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:16AM (#21112307) Journal
    When you try to sign up there is a huge scrollable box beneath your order. In the mess of those terms and conditions is now:

    DATA PLANS AND FEATURES
    Data Plans and Features (such as NationalAccess, BroadbandAccess, GlobalAccess, and certain VZEmail services that do not include a specific monthly MB allowance or are not billed on a pay-as-you-go basis) may ONLY be used with wireless devices for the following purposes: (i) Internet browsing; (ii) email; and (iii) intranet access (including access to corporate intranets, email, and individual productivity applications like customer relationship management, sales force, and field service automation). These Data Plans and Features MAY NOT be used for any other purpose. Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous uploading, downloading, or streaming of audio or video programming or games; (ii) server devices or host computer applications, including, but not limited to, Web camera posts or broadcasts, automatic data feeds, automated machine to-machine connections or peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing; or (iii) as a substitute or backup for private lines or dedicated data connections. This means, by way of example only, that checking email, surfing the Internet, downloading legally acquired songs, and/or visiting corporate intranets is permitted, but downloading movies using P2P file-sharing services and/or redirecting television programming content for viewing on laptops is prohibited. A person engaged in prohibited uses continuously for one hour could typically use 100 to 200 MB, or, if engaged in prohibited uses for 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, could use more than 5 GB in a month.

    For individual use only and not for resale. We reserve the right to protect our network from harm, which may impact legitimate data flows. We reserve the right to limit throughput speeds or amount of data transferred, and to deny or terminate service, without notice, to anyone we believe is using one of these Data Plans or Features in any manner prohibited above or whose usage adversely impacts our network or service levels. Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above, and we reserve the right to limit throughput speed or immediately terminate the service of any such person without notice. We also reserve the right to terminate service upon expiration of Customer Agreement term.

    Verizon Wireless Plans, Rate and Coverage Areas, rates, agreement provisions, business practices, procedures and policies are subject to change as specified in the Customer Agreement.
    Emphasis mine.

    They now have a site [verizonwireless.com] defining acceptable use.

    So they really haven't learned their lesson. I personally think that CmdrTaco should sign up and start hosting Slashdot through it. Either that or point the loyal readers to a page he's hosting through it.

    I would recommend prospective customers of Verizon to think twice and assess if they want to sign contracts with a company so inclined to assume a user of the service is guilty of copyright violations just because of the amount of data they are transferring. Couldn't someone watching YouTube all day or streaming video from another TV network site rack up this sort of data transferring?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      So they really haven't learned their lesson. I personally think that CmdrTaco should sign up and start hosting Slashdot through it. Either that or point the loyal readers to a page he's hosting through it.

      Perhaps they think they've learned their lesson - but they think the lesson isn't "Do what's right" to you and me, but rather "How can we make our business plan legally defensible?"

      Seems if they get a lot more specific, then they'd have a greater chance defending it in court.

      And if all of us geeks go over to other carriers, will Verizon notice? We're a pretty small minority.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Firethorn (177587)
        Is it necessarily right or good to allow unlimited usage of a limited resource(cell spectrum bandwidth)?

        Somebody using more than 5 GB is at the high end of the curve, likely costing verizon more than what they're paying; increasing costs for other users of the service.

        Yes, a business has a right to at least attempt to make a profit. They shouldn't be required to sell money-losing products.

        What they rightly got slapped for is false advertising - A service with a 5GB cap isn't 'unlimited' by any standard def
        • Re:Assumed Guilt (Score:4, Informative)

          by Dunbal (464142) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:56AM (#21113755)
          Yes, a business has a right to at least attempt to make a profit. They shouldn't be required to sell money-losing products.

                Which part of FALSE ADVERTISING don't you understand?

                No one is trying to deny them a profit. Create a "restricted" package, advertise it as such, and sell it at the current price. But for people who want/need a faster connection, charge them more. However what they are currently doing is FRAUD. They are telling customers that they have "UNLIMITED" access when clearly there are very concrete, defined limits both in the TOS and in practice. So instead of either 1) admitting that they are lying in their commercials or 2) investing in more infrastructure to improve congestion on the network, they decide to use "traffic shaping", packet sabotage (if Comcast can do it I'm sure Verizon can), download limits etc WITHOUT informing the customer. That's not right.

                This "settlement" is not right either. It's a tap (not even a slap) on the wrist.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jamar0303 (896820)
          Yep- People wouldn't be complaining if Verizon called it the 5GB plan upfront. In China, for example, mobile data is metered (50MB/100MB/800MB/2GB, ranging from US$4-$30) if you buy it with a cellphone. They have an unlimited datacard plan, which is truly unlimited (as much as you want, no matter what you're downloading) but you can't make phone calls with that card (not regular circuit calls- VoIP's OK).
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      I would recommend prospective customers of Verizon to think twice and assess if they want to sign contracts with a company so inclined to assume a user of the service is guilty of copyright violations just because of the amount of data they are transferring. Couldn't someone watching YouTube all day or streaming video from another TV network site rack up this sort of data transferring?

      Yes. And add to that people transferring files from the company intranet to the laptop, or receiving many large attachments via e-mail. Even some music nut with a lot of money to spend on song downloads could buy 20 songs a day for 30 days and use 2.4GB of bandwidth just for that, not counting the rest of the surfing they do.

      • by Firethorn (177587)
        Not to detract from your statement, but that's fairly unlikely

        20 songs a day, assuming five minutes per song, is 1 hour 40 minutes. Not undoable.
        However, assuming $3/song, is $1.8k, which is quite a lot of money.

        Now, if it's a service where you can redownload previously purchased music, now you have a point.

        Customer X, for whatever reason, has over 2k songs in his account. He lost his computer, replaced it, so he's redownloading his music. There goes that 5gig limit.

        Although you'd run into their 'not to
    • I think you interpreted what you wanted to, instead of what was spelled out in the TOS.

      I would recommend prospective customers of Verizon to think twice and assess if they want to sign contracts with a company so inclined to assume a user of the service is guilty of copyright violations just because of the amount of data they are transferring.

      Nowhere does it say that. They make no mention of copyrights. The prohibted uses:

      (i) continuous uploading, downloading, or streaming of audio or video programming o

      • by timster (32400)
        I'm sorry to say, you aren't thinking very clearly if you missed the part that the poster put in bold. I'll quote it again for you:

        Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above
        • by topham (32406)

          5G? What a joke. I was concerned a few months ago when I deliberately exceeded the bandwidth cap my provider put on my internet. It was specified when I signed up that it was 50G/month. I downloaded 100G of data in about a week.

          All data was downloaded from a Canadian Government website and was all perfectly legal and legit. (300dpi, calibrated maps of Canada at 1:50000 Scale)

          I decided to double-check the bandwdith cap, and was pleasantly suprised to see that on my level of service it was doubled to 100G at
          • You probably wouldn't want to download 100GB a week on Verizon's wireless network, you'd be pulling your hair out waiting for stuff to download, legal or illegal. But every ISP oversells their bandwidth - they count on people paying $60/month who only use it occasionally, to offset the heavy users that are costing them more than they are worth.
            From another perspective, unlimited is not really unlimited anyway because only a certain amount of bandwidth is available to you at any given time. Wireless system
        • And, I'm sorry to say, you missed entirely my point:

          Nowhere in the prohibited uses dows it make mention of copyright. Nowhere. This is why I requoted the prohibited uses.
        • by Dunbal (464142)
          Yeah, that's 167MB/day. Darned pirates.
          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by letxa2000 (215841)
            On a cell phone, 167MB/day is painful. When I go to Blockbuster and my wife asks me to check the comments/rating of a movie on IMDB via my cell phone, I cringe. It's painful. 167MB/day? The Verizon T.O.S. should be rewritten to say, "If you download more than 5GB per month, you are assumed to be stupid and your account will be terminated."
      • I think you interpreted what you wanted to ...

        I'm a human being, I have faults, this is precisely what I did.

        For once a company is taking steps (though forced to do so) to limit the extent to which they oversell bandwidth.

        That's odd, when I read the article, I didn't see the part where Verizon stepped up and admitted they were wrong and asked for forgiveness. In fact, it kind of sounded like they were actually part of the solution. Once I read the details, it was those evil filesharers that did this. Those P2P users who are just automatically guilty if they reach a certain point.

        I don't think Verizon is taking any responsibility here at all. It reeks o

    • A person engaged in prohibited uses continuously for one hour could typically use 100 to 200 MB...


      So download OpenOffice [openoffice.org] twice in an hour and you are busted. Nice! Glad I don't use Verizon.
    • with a company so inclined to assume a user of the service is guilty of copyright violations just because of the amount of data they are transferring

      That's not what they are assuming. What they are assuming is that you violate terms like "[prohibited activities:] (i) continuous uploading, downloading, or streaming of audio or video programming or games".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Examples of prohibited uses include, without limitation, the following: (i) continuous uploading, downloading, or streaming of audio or video programming or games;

      Holy crap, that's messed up. Let me count the ways you can't use your Internet connection:

      (1) No Nintendo Wii, XBox 360, or PS3 (you bad person!)
      (2) No legally purchased music from iTunes or [Doesn't]PlayForSure service.
      (3) No legally watching television or movies from iTunes, Vongo, or MovieLink. (why oh why would you want to do that? /sarcasm)
      (4

      • by splutty (43475)

        (7) No playing World of Warcraft

        You'd actually break 2 of their not-to-be-used rules with that one. One for the fact you're playing a 'streaming' (client-server model) game, and the other for usage of a P2P program (WoW updates through P2P).

        The 5GB limit would also severely impact me doing any work for the company through that sort of link, since a backup of a database for installation on a test machine would already get to over 15G. So I wouldn't even be able to do that once.

        • by vux984 (928602)
          The 5GB limit would also severely impact me doing any work for the company through that sort of link, since a backup of a database for installation on a test machine would already get to over 15G. So I wouldn't even be able to do that once.

          Yeah, I'd totally want to upload a 15GB database through my cell phone.

          Those links are finally fast enough to be useful, but the amount of bandwidth available is tiny tiny fraction of what they can do on broadband, and their ability to increase wireless bandwidth is prett
          • Not just cell phones (Score:3, Interesting)

            by soupforare (542403)
            I've friends in very rural areas that (somehow) actually have cellular coverage. They're only other choice is dialup, so, it's not just cell phones.

            What would you propose they do?
            Not market it as unlimited.
      • MOD PARENT DOWN (Score:5, Insightful)

        by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday October 25, 2007 @02:55PM (#21117471) Homepage
        This whole thing is talking about internet access over mobile phones. Not a single thing you posted is valid. if I had mod points i'd bitch slap this post.
    • Well, I was increasingly thinking of giving up my wired broadband entirely and switching to cellular "unlimited" broadband (maybe a bit slower, but useable everywhere).

      Still want to.
      So much for Verizon when my contract ends in a couple months.

      Does AT&T have an affordable deal on a 4-way (2 iPhones, 2 notebooks, 1 bill) unlimited (actual, not a paltry 5GB limit) data plan?
      • by Amouth (879122)
        i dont' know if AT&T has any deals// or if they have ever limited people BUT i do know that i have done well over 15GB in one month with my unlimited plan - and they have never said anything to me.. i have been very temped to build a wifi AP into my car useing a 3g card for net have the ap open/mac filter and battery powered... that way i would have wifi on my laptop/desktop aslong as i am within 2-300 feet of my car.. which is practily always... *when you need access at home the car is in the driveway
    • by sconeu (64226)
      . Anyone using more than 5 GB per line in a given month is presumed to be using the service in a manner prohibited above,

      Mandriva 2008.0 ISO - 4.7 GB.
  • Geez I wish I could be a corporate spin doctor like that. With my skills -- I could be a Hundredaire!!
  • by Travoltus (110240) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:27AM (#21112445) Journal
    All they had to do was turn one of their execs upside down and shake the change out of his pants.

    Sheesh.
    • by stinerman (812158)
      Once again, a +5 funny where the intent was a +5 insightful.
      • by arivanov (12034)
        Once again, a +5 funny where the content was a +5 insightful.

        Here we go. Fixed that for ya...

      • >the intent was a +5 insightful.
        That's becuase on /. people think insightful = 'agrees with me'
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Daimanta (1140543)
          How dare you question the holy working of democracy! It is my democratic right to spend my mod points however I want. If I disagree with you I have the absolute right to mod you -1 Flamebait and if I like, I have every right to mod you +1 Insightfull. For democracy is an infallible system that never fails and do to the infinite wisdom of the owners of /. we have this perfect system.
        • That is just human nature. It isn't resticted to /. by any means.
  • Please oh please... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy (12016) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:30AM (#21112479) Homepage
    Let this set precedence and all the other states go after Verizon,Comcast and the others hard like this. hell please go after the Cellphone assholes as well.

    They thrive on blatantly lying to the customer, Unlimited internet, unlimited calling, unlimited this that the other... they know they are lying. they need to be spanked hard and forced to not lie.
  • Petty cash (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sm62704 (957197) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:31AM (#21112497) Journal
    What a bunch of sleazeballs, both Verizon AND the New York State's Attorney. I got halfway down TFA (Sorry, I know that's unslashdottish of me to RTFA but I'm not feeling well) before my stomach started turning and I was forced to hit the "back" button.

    What Verizon did, from TFA, was FRAUD plain and simple. Their CEO and board of directors should be in prison, not made to take petty cash and give it to New York. In their defense I must say, why isn't MY nad-free AG doing anything?

    However, I'm not the least surprised. Nobody from Sony went to prison for rooting millions of PCs, despite the fact that if you did to them what they did to me you'ld be in the slammer for years.

    I didn't read far enough to see if they agreed to stop defrauding their customers. But hell, you expect thieves and con men to tell the truth in a contract? I mean, the agreement is about their LIES to begin with!

    I'm looking for a new cell phone company. Is there one out there that is reletively sleaze-free? I was happy with Cingular for years, never went over my minutes (always had rollover minutes) and the bill was always the same, under $50. Then AT&T bought them out, and all of a sudden I got hit with a $150 bill. I didn't pay it. The next month they tacked on another $450 on top of the $150, and shut off my service. After shutting off my service, they tacked ANOTHER $150 for the month I was without service, including taxes on the service they never provided.

    Verizon was on the list of possible replacements (I'm using pay as you go right now), so this story was just in the nick of time. Thank you, slashdot!

    You iknow, I'm a geezer; I don't remember businesses being run by thieves and sociopaths when I was young. Maybe my memory is bad, or I was naive. Or maybe we're heading for another world wide depression like tha 1930s?

    -mcgrew

    (Oblig link [mcgrew.info] to my blagh posting about Sony rooting my box, titled "SONY MUST DIE!!!!")
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Lumpy (12016)
      But hell, you expect thieves and con men to tell the truth in a contract? I mean, the agreement is about their LIES to begin with!

      there! right there is the essence of wisdom for today.

      Anyone demanding a contract or agreement is a thief and needs to be treated as such.
      • by Dunbal (464142)
        Anyone demanding a contract or agreement is a thief and needs to be treated as such.

        The idea behind a contract is some assurance of continued business. Why would a bank loan you hundreds of thousands of dollars without some form of assurance that you will actually pay it back? Why would a telco invest in technology and infrastructure without some form of guarantee that they will be able to recover their cost?

        Contracts are necessary. If you don't like them, don't s
        • by Lumpy (12016)
          No they are not.

          Why does the gas company not make me have a contract? the electric company? hmmm? Laws cover the needs of that.

          how about a basic phone line at my home? no contract there either. your examples are all flawed as there are laws in place that protect both sides. Contracts are about extending those laws in a manner that gives the company way more benefits then they are entitled to. Can I call up AT&T wireless and get a sim card without a contract? nope. they will not do it. why? be
          • by russotto (537200)

            Why does the gas company not make me have a contract? the electric company? hmmm? Laws cover the needs of that.
            Because they can put a lien on your house if you don't pay.
          • Why does the gas company not make me have a contract? the electric company? hmmm?

            First, they do have an implicit contract for payment in exchange for services rendered. Second, they either make you pay a deposit (in case you don't pay up later), or require evidence of good credit, or make you pay a month in advance (like most phone bills). Most importantly, they're only extending you one month's worth of well-insured credit at a time. There's always overhead and risk involved in signing up a new custome

    • by stinerman (812158)

      Is there one out there that is reletively sleaze-free?

      LOL! Hell no. Sleaze is what makes these guys money. The least objectionable is probably Alltel, but I haven't a clue if they're available in your area. I have Verizon but only because they (and Alltel) are the only carriers that cover my hometown. I'd switch to Alltel if I didn't have to pay a termination fee.

      Of the big 4, I don't think any of them are any better than the rest. You're really getting into Hitler > Stalin > Castro > Mao typ

    • by Travoltus (110240) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:56AM (#21112789) Journal
      "You iknow, I'm a geezer; I don't remember businesses being run by thieves and sociopaths when I was young. Maybe my memory is bad, or I was naive. Or maybe we're heading for another world wide depression like tha 1930s?"

      You grew up in the period between the 1930s and the 1980s? I'm sure there were corporate thieves and miscreants in that period, but the tale of the stats say they weren't as rampant as today. Not even close.

      Before the 1930s, man, they were effin' brutal. These days, they're trying really hard to bring back those 'Good Old Days' of yankee 'caveat emptor' capitalism. Really really hard.

      It's up to us, the people, to stop being so apathetic, turn off that stupid Nip/Tuck, and call for and vote in some corporate responsibility. Start with boycotts and then put pressure on politicians. Stop letting these people think we don't care.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by arivanov (12034)

      You iknow, I'm a geezer; I don't remember businesses being run by thieves and sociopaths when I was young.

      Really? United Fruit anyone? ITT? Want a few others?

      Maybe my memory is bad, or I was naive.

      Both I guess

      Or maybe we're heading for another world wide depression like tha 1930s? Yes by the look of it

    • Virgin Mobile is pretty good. It's true I only had a minimal plan from them, but they even warn you when you're running low on minutes. IIRC it's originally a British Company, so that may have something to do it. My receptoins also great in the Greater Los Angeles area.
    • Want cell phone service?

      Go to www.sprint.com/sero

      Enter "savings@sprintemi.com" for the e-mail address.

      Enjoy!
      $30/month, 500 minutes, unlimited data, EVDO RevA speeds, unlimited text/picture messaging, no roaming fees.

      Cheap, easy to deal with. Moderate hold times, and the customer service is okay (not stellar, like T-mobile, but the service is excellent).

      Also, Sprint has plenty of extra bandwidth, so they actually _encourage_ streaming video and gaming over their data network.

      For example:
      "Mobile Broadband Cap
    • I don't remember businesses being run by thieves and sociopaths when I was young.

      No, things haven't changed that much. Do a little searching and you dig up all of those great ads for cigarettes [lileks.com] that have "Doctors recommend Camel cigarettes" [blogspot.com] and "Good for your 'T Zone'" [indymotorspeedway.com] bylines. Go back further and you find that radium will cure what ails you [wikipedia.org] even when scientists already knew it caused illness. The case of New Jersey vs Radium Corp [wikipedia.org] (and the slap on the wrist they got even when internal documents and practices showed they knew it was toxic) really stands out.

    • yeah they stopped DCing customers in April until the suit was settled and have agreed not to advertise unlimited plans with caps and prohibited uses. Also the NY AG's press release wasn't completely clear but I read it as Verizon was going to divide the $1M among the 13,000 customers disconected and that the $1M was an estimate rather than a hard numbers so they are probably paying per DC, disconnect.
  • Unlimited (Score:4, Insightful)

    by torkus (1133985) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @09:34AM (#21112527)
    Are they still branding their wireless as "unlimited" to new customers? Existing customers that signed up for "unlimited" wireless should have exactly that - at least until their contract expires.

    Despite their cute (though repetitive at this point) commercials, VZW is still a bad choice for a cell company in my opinion. T-Mobile OTOH seems to make good where verizon fails. Heck, they keep sending me free phones with a couple months of free service to try them out. Ok, so i'm a corporate customer but meh.
    • T-mobile is OK, but not completely without problems. The most annoying problem, which thankfully I only had to deal with once, is that they block fax calls from cell phones; the only way to send a fax through T-mobile is to fork over some extra cash. Not the worst problem in the world, but pretty annoying.

      All in all, I agree: T-mobile is the best service I've dealt with. They don't try to squeeze you on dialup access (I use a non-T-mobile ISP, and those calls aren't dropped), they actually send and re

      • by MrCrassic (994046)

        While T-Mobile's service is pretty good and many Verizon users would switch if they had the choice, their phone selection continues to be behind the curve and they are STILL the only American company without any functional 3G towers operating yet. I don't understand why this is when T-Mobile Germany is one of the top providers (akin to Verizon here) and has one of the fastest 3G networks and the best phones for the buck.

        Who would want to pay the insane rates that Verizon charges for a cellular technology

        • Yeah, the lack of 3G is a bit of a disappointment. The 9.6K limit on data is basically the lowest tolerable, just enough for some email and weather checks (and even then, only with a non-WWW client).
      • by jamar0303 (896820)
        You can send faxes from a cellphone?
        • Almost all (99%) of modern cell phones have an integrated modem, that can be used by connecting the phone to a computer. For example, I connect to my phone via bluetooth, and then use it as a modem to dial up to the Internet. You can also use it to send faxes; KDE can set up pseudo-printers that behave as fax machines, and use a modem to send the fax. There is still use for this, even given the rise of email.
          • by jamar0303 (896820)
            Oh. I knew about dialing up (I do it every so often) but didn't know that it could be used to send faxes like that. I thought it was some sort of system that converted SMSes to faxes on the fly when sending to a landline or something like that.
    • In my estimation no communications company is squeaky clean. So I've decided to go with who gives me the best network coverage and least call drops, and that happens to be Verizon. As much as it pains me, I'm not going to suffer worse service just to stick it to the man.
  • by m2943 (1140797) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:00AM (#21112845)
    There are two things Verizon could do: change the service or change the ads. They can't change the service because it's economically not feasible.

    So, what this will mean is simply that ads will get slightly more prominent disclaimers saying something like

    Verizon Unlimited Bandwidth*

    *Subject to terms of service; file sharing, bandwidth sharing, public servers, or continuous data transfer are examples of prohibited activities.
  • That'll teach them! That's probably the equivalent of me having to fork up $2.
  • ...Comcast?

    rj
  • This would probably be a public relations nightmare if people cared more. Googling the term "Verizon Unlimited", the first page doesn't even contain Verizon's website itself, except in the sponsored links. What it does contain are things such as:

    "Verizon Limits Its "Unlimited" Wireless Broadband Service"
    "Who's a Bandwidth Bandit? - The Checkout"
    "Verizons Unlimited Data Plan Not So Unlimited"
    "Verizon: "Unlimited bandwidth means 5GBs or less or we cancel your service"
  • I looked into buying this plan or ATT but read that part and said NO! I was going to sign up for it and use the Gizmo Project and Grand Central to make unlimited free cellphone calls? This made me realize that VZW just couldn't handle what they sold and the saw VOIP as a predator to their precious money making scheme, if I get unlimited bandwidth that is a decent quality I can exploit have unlimited calling for $40 a month which compared to $60 for my cell plan $25 for my land line is a good deal.
  • by GuyverDH (232921) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @10:29AM (#21113303)
    Come on, is Dr. Evil the NYAG? That's not going to deter Verizon one bit.
    The term unlimited means no limits.
    There's no way to change the definition no matter what *legalsleeze* you throw at it.

    If it's not unlimited, you can't use the term.

    Just like most chocolate flavored cereals, if not made using real chocolate, have to say "chocolatey"..

    Maybe they need to have the term "unlimitedey" or "unlimitedlike" or "pseudounlimited" instead.
    • by balsy2001 (941953)
      The chocolatey vs. chocolate probably resulted from some national council on chocolate trying to protect the good name of their product. I guess we will need to start a national council on unlimited to protect its good name.
  • Ok, they nailed one. Whos next? I can not believe the number of false advertisements I see on the net. Most from legitimate companies that know better than to do it!

    I have gone over to reporting them when I find them, you just need to go to

    https://rn.ftc.gov/pls/dod/wsolcq$.startup?Z_ORG_CODE=PU01 [ftc.gov]

    and fill out the report. They will do the rest.

    I am sure we can find lots of examples to keep the FTC busy.
    • by Dunbal (464142)
      I can not believe the number of false advertisements I see on the net.

            but you really ARE the 10,000,000th visitor to this site!!!
  • The key point, from the AG's press release, is "Since April of 2007, Verizon Wireless has voluntarily ceased cutting off customers based on their data usage and no longer prohibits common internet uses." So they do have to provide "unlimited" service. The "voluntary" part means "did it before the state got a court order".

    Disclaimers, by the way, don't help. It's a false advertising lawsuit. The big print said "unlimited", and if the small print disagrees, that's false advertising.

  • Anything based off a limited resource can't by definition be unlimited. Did anyone really think you could use truly UNLIMITED amounts of data? Of course not, it's impossible. Taking advertising that literally is just stupidity. Do you get upset when you see an ad saying "you'll love the new double whopper, for a limited time only" because Burger King didn't personally consult with you to determine if you would in fact love it?

    Comcast's secret slowing of P2P traffic is much worse than this. In that case

    • by Fantastic Lad (198284) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @01:35PM (#21116311)
      Telephone companies provide unlimited local calling, and I've never heard of a subscriber being cut off for talking too much. That's because the phone companies have the required infrastructure to deal with the natural usage patterns which have evolved over time. The internet, however, is still new and the usage patterns haven't settled yet. Verizon made some assumptions about what normal usage would be, and they got it wrong. They made a huge mistake in offering 'unlimited' packages before they understood what they were dealing with or before they had the required infrastructure in place.

      Your all-you-can-eat buffet argument is actually quite apt. People's eating habits can be mapped, the limit being based on how much one person can physically consume, so restaurants rarely end up with problems.

      Verizon should have played it safe, looking at their resources and the real limits, (a customer using the maximum bandwidth 24/7), and they should have charged appropriately for that service package based on their ability to deliver it. Promising unlimited usage to everybody was unrealistic. 10 or 20 people using the full bandwidth is a spike, but 13000 users is evidence of normal mass behavior which they obviously didn't plan for. --They made promises they couldn't keep and they lost the gamble.

      The nature of contract law is that people and companies must be held accountable to the promises they make. Why should Verizon be treated any differently? When other companies fail to meet their obligations, the ideal model is to find some way to sever the deal in a manner which leaves the customer feeling that they were dealt with in good will, either through a refund or similar. Verizon handled itself without grace. They could have been up-front in saying, "Oops. We screwed up by signing a contract which we couldn't fulfill. To make it up to you, we'd like to offer the next two months at the same service level for the price you are currently paying, but after that we have to charge more. This will give you enough time to find another service provider. --Or if you want to cancel immediately, we'll give you back your money for the last two months." --Something like that would have shown good will and would have established new systems to avoid future problems with new clients. Instead they chose to act like dicks in the hope that nobody would sue.

      I'm glad to see they lost that gamble as well.


      -FL

  • $1 million is not enough. It's not nearly enough to deter this behavior in Verizon, and all the other ISP's who are claiming the same thing. $1 BILLION would have been a much better number.

    But does Verizon even have a billion? Of course they do. That, and many more billions that they can spend on the FCC 700MHz auction. Slap 'em, and slap 'em hard!

  • If a hacker (Score:3, Insightful)

    by gillbates (106458) on Thursday October 25, 2007 @12:11PM (#21114969) Homepage Journal

    Had disconnected 13,000 users, he'd be in jail.

    A corporate executive does it, and gets off scott free.

    • by DragonTHC (208439)
      the corpexec most likely didn't break any computer laws in accessing his company's own network.

      use your brain moron!

The number of arguments is unimportant unless some of them are correct. -- Ralph Hartley

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