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(Honolulu Advertiser)   Verizon defends monthly service charge for non-rotary dialing   ( divider line
    More: Stupid  
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12942 clicks; posted to Main » on 19 Jul 2003 at 3:16 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

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2003-07-19 08:31:25 AM  
Yeah, but if you decide to drop the touch tone service, usually it'll still work.
2003-07-19 09:26:24 AM  
Verizon spokesperson Ann Nishida declined to discuss the case yesterday.

Nice headline.
2003-07-19 09:42:45 AM  
But seriously - rmoose, true, until enough people do it that it's in their interest to disable it by account, which might not take too long at $1.65 a month!
2003-07-19 10:10:45 AM  
I'm with Verizon on this one. The government doesn't have the right to arbitrarily declare a company's billing services illegal because the technology has changed.

Non-rotary charges we put in place to cover the expenses of buying equipment to handle touch-tone dialing. I imagine that the equipment has to be replaced or repaired from time to time. I wonder if anyone has thought of that?

It's kinda sad that the morons in the story decided to file a lawsuit instead of just switching phone services. I guess everyone is just looking for a quick buck.
2003-07-19 03:22:16 PM  
BUt they have a neat new looking bill this month!

2003-07-19 03:26:11 PM  
It isn't an "extra" anymore. It probably costs them extra to make the switches handle pulse dialing. Equipment upkeep should come out of the base fee. This is just one more case of an industry stuck in the past because it allows them to make more money.
2003-07-19 03:26:31 PM  
And the lawyer goes home with about $55 million.

Gotta love it.
2003-07-19 03:26:39 PM  
Jangoett: That's why a loser-pays system would be good in the US. No more lawsuit lottery.
2003-07-19 03:28:44 PM  
I hate verizon, but have no choice but to use them. It doesn't surprise me that they do this kind of shiat.
2003-07-19 03:33:02 PM  
Well folks, take at look at your phone bills when they arrive- I know I have been paying AT&T a monthly fee for the pleasure of them billing me. That's right kids- they charge you for sending a bill.
2003-07-19 03:37:09 PM  

Well, if it's maintenence, it should be labeled as such. In addition, the cost of the service has factored in for repairs and such. That additional fee is SKIMMING, pure and simple -- especially since it was used for something in the beginning and is no longer relevent.

Don't even try to tell me that the big wigs at Verison don't get millions of dollars... and for what?

Clever billing techniques.
2003-07-19 03:39:22 PM  
This is why I don't have a phone.
2003-07-19 03:43:23 PM  
JangoFett: Non-rotary charges we put in place to cover the expenses of buying equipment to handle touch-tone dialing. I imagine that the equipment has to be replaced or repaired from time to time. I wonder if anyone has thought of that?

I guarantee that the overhead cost of repairing/replacing faulty touch-tone equipment (TTE) is already factored into the regular part of the bill that Verizon customers receive. There is no need for this continued fee, because the TTE is already in place, and touch-tone itself is no longer a unique service.

Furthermore, the cost of TTE has dropped since 1968, because its become so commonplace. It is the standard now. I'm sure that the cost operate and maintain touch-tone systems is the same as older pulse-dial systems. Since there is no cost difference in the two systems (actually, I think they're just one system that's intelligent enough to know which dialing method a caller is using), continuing a special fee for one service makes no sense, except that it boosts the company's bottom line.

Take the fee away, and I guarantee that Verizon's service quality won't change one bit.
2003-07-19 03:43:33 PM  
a lot of places still only have one local phone company jango.
2003-07-19 03:44:05 PM  
Doesn't the music industry charges an overhead fee based on breakage percentages from the shellac era? Weasely sucker-punch profits. F' em, but are class action lawyers any less odious these days?

Freeper madness will surely manifest in this thread.
2003-07-19 03:45:02 PM  
geeez jango. What is your deal? I guess I should hide from you because I sued the everlivingpiss out of SBCglobal. They screwed me for the last time and I was sick of it.

Even the Government does this. They tax the crap out of the citizens to build a bridge or road. Then they put in a toll to "Pay for it". but they never get rid of the toll once it is paid for. It then becomes a maintainence fee. But until now...this is the first time I have ever seen any major work being done on the Bay Bridge. They paint the GG ever so often....10 years I think? The San Mateo is being worked on a little here and there (I think they are painting lines or widening or something). The Dumbarton is too new to fix...20 years old now and still not paid off (they say).

So the poor people build it so that the rich can use it. Did you not read the letter to the British Telecom company listed today?

We the people are sick of the crappy services we get from telecom and then get charged back to the stone age on irrelivant crap. It is time that we stick thier appliances where the sun don't shine.

Good...I hope they shut down the company for good.

hmmm...Verizon...similar to Horizon...Horizon is 10 miles...therefore the goal of this company is walking distance. Everyone wish them luck.
2003-07-19 03:48:27 PM  
I noticed in the article, verizon said the charge was legal....but they never said it was needed, necessry or anything like that,

which shows it is a scam, and they only have the fee because they were allowed to, not because they needed it
2003-07-19 03:48:54 PM  
Verizon is the absolute worst telephone company I have ever dealt with. And considering the industry in general, this puts Verizon in the company of slave traders.
2003-07-19 03:49:22 PM  
Ah, the lawsuit industry marches on. This has zero to do with anyone's rights or the phone company's practices (though we know the phone company's pretty evil) and it has everything to do with a lawyer who did some research and smelled an opportunity.

This process of searching for weak spots and filing lawsuits on behalf of nonexistent victims is known as the lawsuit industry. There are firms that do nothing but research obscure laws and decisions, and file lawsuits based on the results. In this case, the lawyer got his friends to agree to be the plaintiffs (for $$$ I'm sure) and he gets to collect huge legal fees for taking the case. Typically the lawyers get half of all monies collected, and the amounts can be huge. The 'customers' then divide the remaining money amongst themselves, and each get a check for $9.74 one day in the mail.

The lawsuit industry has existed for a while, but the tobacco settlement really caught it on fire and gave it funding. The firms in on the tobacco settlement made billions.
2003-07-19 03:51:11 PM  
This will become a moot point as more states deregulate their telecom infrastructure. If one company's charges are unreasonable, switch to a different company, or abandon wired phones altogether and go cellular.
2003-07-19 03:58:03 PM  
I hate all telecommunications companies.
2003-07-19 03:58:48 PM  
abandon wired phones altogether and go cellular.

this is what I did. it's a really good move.
2003-07-19 03:59:01 PM  
They'll just raise the rates across the board to cover this cost, too. So we'll all be paying $90 a month for local service just soon enough. So much for the local utility commisions doing their jobs.
2003-07-19 04:01:17 PM  
Sure, some high-stakes lawyer stands to gain a few million from this, but that doesn't change the fact that Verizon's been gaining a few hundred million from Hawaiians all this time for a deceptive practice. How anyone can defend the greed and thievery inherent in Verizon's position is beyond me. And while I have no special love for lawyers, or their brand of greed, at least this benefits people other than just the attorneys, whereas Verizon's billing policy benefitted no one, in fact, did quite the opposite.
2003-07-19 04:06:29 PM  

The lawsuit industry has existed for a while, but the tobacco settlement really caught it on fire and gave it funding. The firms in on the tobacco settlement made billions.

who cares?
2003-07-19 04:07:03 PM  
gromky: I don't consider those paying a company extra money for no additional service as non-victims. If there were actually competition in this business and the customers could take their business elsewhere, I'd tell them to stop whining. But they have no real recourse against Verizon except through government and the courts.

The government needs to open those taxpayer-financed phone lines up to real competition. If there was competition, you woudn't see nonsense charges like that.
2003-07-19 04:07:11 PM  
As far as going cellular, in the US, at least, you are charged by the minute on calls, 1 minute and 1 second costing you 2 minutes. As if their programs can only read and bill by the minute as opposed to the second. The few companies that give you the option of per-second billing usually put this in a package with fairly useless options and charge you accordingly.

Not saying business shouldn't make money, just irks me that the profits so often come at the expense of honesty and reason.
2003-07-19 04:13:30 PM  
Not saying business shouldn't make money, just irks me that the profits so often come at the expense of honesty and reason.

I mentioned that same thought to a friend of mine, and that business ethics were an unnecessary restraint on the free market. There are some who will sacrifice their morals and ethics for the sake of profits -- and then chalk it up as being the "American Way". I prefer honesty and reason in business, myself.
2003-07-19 04:15:25 PM  
It's not that easy to drop a feature of a service. I use to get charged a $4.95 a month for something called line backer. Basically it means if the lines in my wall go bad they will replace them from what I gathered from the customer service drones. I called probably about 5 times to get it off my bill, and in the 3 years I lived here I've only not been charged for it once in a billing period. I've given up now they have defeated me. I'm moving in a month though, I'm not even going to get a regular phone just going to use the cell.
2003-07-19 04:23:40 PM  
The last phone line I got in America was through SWBell. When I ordered the service I told the saleswoman that all I wanted was basic service. No call waiting, caller ID, etc. Just a line that I could make and recieve calls from.

When my first bill came, I realised they had, indeed, given me the "Basic" service. It was their cheap package, but still loaded with junk beyond the usual service fees and taxes. Couldn't believe they'd just screw a customer like that, after I had made it clear what I wanted and was assured that is what I would be getting.

Posting a lot on this thread. Goes to show how sick I am of this "business as usual".
2003-07-19 04:33:14 PM  
I think that most of us agree that the phone company tries to stick it to us on a daily basis. Hopefully they will be dead in 10 years due to the internet. But the fact remains that the only ones who will get anything out of this law suit is the trial lawyers! Just like the CD price fixing suit. All the cheated customers will get is a credit for comtinued phone service while the scum-bag lawyers laugh all the way to the bank. They are a bunch of parisitic bottom feeders!!! Shakespere was right.
2003-07-19 04:42:44 PM  
cellular is the way to go, like other people have said. Your phone's always on you, you get almost exactly what you want when you choose a plan, and it's illegal to get telemarketing calls on it. For forty bucks a month I can go damn near anywhere in the country and talk to whoever I want, and I get some absurdly large number of minutes that I can never use up in one month.

Screw anything that has anything to do with Verizon.
2003-07-19 04:44:36 PM  
Tesseract: I don't think telcos will go away because of the internet; people still use dialup, and DSL uses the same copper lines as your telephone. So, unless everyone switches to cable and starts using VoIP, Verizon and friends will be around for quite a while.
2003-07-19 04:51:24 PM  
And even if this cable revolution occurs, do you really think comcast is any less slimey?
2003-07-19 04:53:27 PM  
I just think that we should all go back to our rotary phones. Problem solved. I doubt their network could handle all calls coming in rotary as opposed to touch tone.
2003-07-19 04:54:19 PM  
But the fact remains that the only ones who will get anything out of this law suit is the trial lawyers!

the point of class actions is to benefit consumers in the future by making it profitable for private industry (lawyers) to serve some functions of oversight that the government should be doing. No, you as a customer aren't going to get anything back from the suit, but the company will change their practices so customers in the future don't get ripped off (in that way) anymore.

I always thought people were in favor of privatizing government jobs? that's exactly what class-actions do. or do you think SWB paying a $50 million fine to the justice Department is put to any better use than the $50 million going to private lawyers who serve the same niche?
2003-07-19 04:59:55 PM  
Class action for Caller ID should be next. It doesn't cost the phone company anything to send the caller's phone number.
2003-07-19 05:11:01 PM  
The biggest problem with the telecoms is that they have you by the balls. If the price of cable and/or satellite TV becomes too onerous, nobody's forcing you to watch TV. There are enough choices in food that nobody starves, because beef producers, chicken producers, and vegetable farmers all have an incentive to lower their prices in an effort to increase sales. Substitution is readily available, and you can't get all food producers to collude without someone breaking the deal.

If you live in a city (as I do), you can get along well without a car, lowering your monthly transportation costs significantly and freeing yourself from the OPEC nations. But a telephone? Not having a phone isn't a viable option in today's world, and the telecom companies know it. They have legally sanctioned monopolies, little choice for consumers to make substitutions, and no incentive to behave ethically.
2003-07-19 05:14:42 PM  

Here in SoCal the Vincent Thomas bridge used to be toll, but they realized the cost of collecting the toll was just about the same as the money collected from the toll. Amazingly, they got rid of the toll and the bridge is now free.

Also, to complete this threadjack, I saw a documentary on the Golden Gate and it said that the brdge is continually painted on a one year cycle. As soon as they finish at one end, they start up at the other.
2003-07-19 05:26:14 PM  
Comatose: The point is not the sliminess of cable providers (although I should say I've been dealing with comcast for a while now, and have had no problems); the point is that telcos will be around unless people make significant changes to their lifestyle. I could've said fiber or satellite internet instead of cable, but those are not viable options and may not ever be.
2003-07-19 06:09:22 PM  
Yes, like a Navy Ship or so I am told, the bridges are never not being painted. Constantly inspected for rust and then the paint and rust are chipped away and then repainted. But I had thought it was learned that it was a two year cycle.
2003-07-19 06:12:58 PM  
Does anyone make a cell phone that could replace a home phone?

By that I am specifically looking for it to be large and operable by kids, and for it to play with other phones that all ring when the same number is called? (So I can leave a phone in the kitchen that the kids can get to to dial 911 when there is a murderer upstairs.)

And maybe because it is big, it has good sound.

Anything like that by anyone?
2003-07-19 06:15:23 PM  
If you're with British Telecom it's worth checking your bill carefully. A few years ago I discovered that they were charging me a few a month for "rental" of the handset that they gave me when my first line was installed. Considering you can buy a new cheapo handset for about the same amount, they're just ripping you off. Tell them to stop charging and come and collect it if they want it. Some people will end up paying this for many years without even realising.

All utility companies are scumweasels.
2003-07-19 06:40:49 PM  
I'll conceed the argument that telecom equipment has gone down in price and the fees no longer go to cover that purpose. However, the main point of the argument was why are we letting courts decide how and why companies can bill clients.

Example of the same thing in a different industry:
In California, there was a case where citizens protested against ATM fees. They protested so long and loud that several cities actually did away with ATM fees. But someone still had some sense and it was overturned this summer.

Imagine being a business owner and being told that you can't charge for a service. Not because it's a bad service or that no one wants it, or even that you preformed the service wrongly. In fact, the service works just great and everyone uses it.

No, you can't charge for the service because it's standard, or it's not fair, or (my personal favorite) you already make enough money.

What kind of farkin' BS is that?

And SquirrelWithLargeNuts I'm all for the loser-pays system.
2003-07-19 06:50:44 PM  
"Imagine being a business owner and being told that you can't charge for a service. Not because it's a bad service or that no one wants it, or even that you preformed the service wrongly. In fact, the service works just great and everyone uses it. No, you can't charge for the service because it's standard, or it's not fair, or (my personal favorite) you already make enough money."

I say it's what you have to suck up when you get a de facto monopoly on an essential service, like local phone providers get. Actually I think local phone service should be nationalized and run at cost but regulating the hell out of the private telcos is a quasi-acceptable alternative. They still get to gouge you though, b/c the gov't is unwilling to take them to task for many of their sins.
2003-07-19 07:11:57 PM  
Businesses know that once you are providing a service to a customer, there is a cost for that customer to switch to a new service. This in known as the switching cost.

It's hard to switch banks.

Which bank offers the freest ATMs? That hard information to obtain too. A recent Nobel Prize in econ went for research exploring transactions occuring with asymetric information -- where the seller knows more than the buyer. Turns out, that's a bad, non-optimal situation.

So now you have banks, they know it's hard for you to switch, and they know it's hard for you to know who to switch to. And then they slowly start increasing their fees. What they once provided as free service, is now a profit center. Bit by bit they take value and money from you.

And then they act surprised that consumers band together to ask them to be fair, or sue them because they still charge for equipment paid off decades ago.

That is called unethical behavior by the corporations.
2003-07-19 07:28:11 PM  
2003-07-19 07:43:16 PM  
I paid for line-backer service for years, and 2 months after I told them (3 times) to remove it, my phone died. Coincidence? When I finally had the phone reconnected, six months later, the phone lady turned the switch on and voila! Phone worked fine.

I now pay Quest 1.65 a month NOT to put my name in the phone book--yes, you have to pay so that they will not use your name in their advertising. Phone companies suck.
2003-07-19 08:21:47 PM  
GTE/Verizon have not charged for touch-tone in Ohio since at least 1989. In fact, if everyone threw out their ancient Bakelite plastic rotary-dial phones, Verizon would save a chunk of change. Those old phones take up lots of electricity just to make them ring or for the pulse-dialling to work, and the telcos have to maintain large banks of 48-volt batteries and assorted equipment to make them work. All this is is another scam by the telco monopolies to make money.
2003-07-19 08:39:07 PM  
This is one of the very few occasions where I think a class action suit is appropriate.
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