Verizon behavior reflects monopolistic power
FAIRFAX, VIRGINIA -- Dealing with Verizon,
I have seen many behaviors reflecting an oligopoly,
best countered by reducing government sanctions
for the telephone oligopoly.
1. Can't move phone number 5 miles,
but competition can move it 3000 miles.
Ten years ago, I moved 4 miles,
and Verizon moved my phone number with me.
Two months ago, I again moved,
this time 5 miles from my previous Verizon service,
so close that my daughter attends the same middle school in Virginia.
Surprisingly, while I have had the same telephone number with Verizon
for 16 years, Verizon could not move the telephone number
to my new address.
However, any VoIP service like Vonage will let me take
that same (703)***-**** telephone number anywhere in the world.
Preferring my phone number over the telephone service provider,
I switched to Vonage.
2. Charges 100 times the market and charging to not receive a service.
A few years ago, my long distance carrier went out-of-business,
so for a year I had no long distance service through Verizon
and that satisfied me.
A couple years ago, I received a 42 dollars reverse bill
for an 8 minute call from Hong Kong,
even though my calls to Hong Kong through my long distance card cost
but 4 cents per minute.
A regular marketplace should not produce a commodity costing
over 100 times what the rest of the market charges.
Unknown to me, Verizon had assigned me a long distance service
that I had not requested.
This long distance service additionally charged $5.50 per month
plus long distance per minute costs.
I asked Verizon to end my long distance service,
yet despite making no long distance charges, I continued
to receive these $5.50 monthly long distance service charges.
After two months of this, I had Verizon prevent
any long distance calls (after all,
I had been using long distance calling cards for several years).
For this -- to prevent the very problems Verizon abetted --
Verizon has charged me $1.50 per month for the last couple years.
That is, Verizon calls it a "service" to "prevent a service."
No reasonable marketplace would charge to not receive a service.
3. Won't release my telephone number.
I filled out Vonage's webpage to acquire my telphone number
from Verizon, and a week later I contacted Verizon
to drop my telephone and DSL service.
Several days later, I read that dropping service returns
my telephone number for Verizon to reassign,
even though I had a request in Vonage
for the telephone number's transfer.
Verizon wouldn't co-operate,
so even though I no longer lived at my former address,
I had Verizon continue my phone service.
Luckily, 10 days later, my telephone number did transfer to Vonage.
Holding a telphone number hostage is the most easily solved
excess of oligopoly.
Rather than abetting Verizon's oligopoly,
the Federal Trade Commission (FTC or FCC)
should give individuals permanent ownership of one telephone number.
4. Dropping telephone service and moving didn't drop DSL service.
Verizon wouldn't drop DSL-service because I still had a DSL-charge
[even though they themselves had dropped my telephone service];
but Verizon wouldn't drop the DSL-charge
because I hadn't dropped DSL-service -- Catch 22.
I moved 5 miles away on December 9, asking Verizon
to cancel my DSL service.
However, to retain my telephone number,
I had to continue telephone service
until Verizon transferred my telephone number to Vonage.
Today is February 12, two months later.
Having just gotten another telephone bill from Verizon,
forwarded through standard mail since I have moved,
I see another $37.95 charge for DSL service at my former address,
but no other telephone service charges besides a $17.19 refund
for cancelled telephone service.
Calling Verizon, I had to spend 50 minutes on the phone
with 5 people over 4 call transfers.
First, I'm told that the $37.95 can't be removed from my bill
until I stop DSL service, transferring me to 800-567-6789.
Second, this person affirms the need to drop DSL service,
transferring me to 800-358-2076.
Third, this person informs me that my service can't be cancelled
because I still owe Verizon money.
Reality check: they charged me $37.95
for DSL service 6 weeks after I moved,
but I have a credit of $17.19 on the same Verizon bill
for telephone service ended;
so I don't owe Verizon, rather Verizon owes me $17.19.
So, one Verizon person tells me I can't get $37.95 removed
from my bill because I must first stop DSL-service,
while another Verizon person tells me I can't stop DSL-service
because because I still owe the mischarged $37.95.
Of course, I don't owe them $37.95, rather Verizon owes me $17.19.
Fourth, Verizon's third person transfers me another (unknown) number
at 9:38am, who affirms that I must cancel DSL-service before
they can remove the $37.95 DSL-charge for service from 1/25 to 2/24,
service for 6 weeks to 10 weeks
after I moved from that service's location.
Fifth, on hold for twenty minutes, at 10:04am Verizon
cancels my DSL service and drops the $37.95 DSL charge.
I will receive a refund for $17.19.
5. Verizon charges for trivial add-ons.
Caller-ID, Call forwarding, ...
are all trivial in the arena of broadband;
They are worthy of a few lines of software code,
but not worthy of extra charges.
These nitpicking charges by members of our telephone oligopoly,
like Verizon, further reflect their oligopoly.
The monetary mentioned amounts above are insignificant to me
and certainly insignificant to Verizon.
Verizon's oligopoly practices greatly restricted their customers' choices,
and distorted the marketplace.
To many economists, the status of telephone companies is obvious.
Government supports an obsolete oligopoly, an obsolete business
that lobbies for continued restraints on the new marketplace.
A well informed market or even a benign government like France
would have broadband (cable, fiber, or DSL) in every home
with a plugged-in broadband IP-based telephone.
Telephone service is merely an internet application,
an application that should require no extra costs
besides the telephone (adapter also, depending on hardware) itself.
France does all this for about $35, providing broadband, telephone,
and TV altogether.
The FCC should mandate the end of telephone-only service in five years,
to be replaced with broadband-including-telephone service.
I would favor landlines (broadband) that provides only the line,
with numerous other companies providing services over these landlines.
While the limited landline company (companies)
would continue an oligopoly, at least a competitive thriving
marketplace would provide broadband services.
The current telephone companies should largely not exist now,
and certainly should not exist in 10 years.
Most people favor free trade.
The above shows how restricted that trade is in the telephone marketplace.
Indeed, without government sanctions for the landline telephone industry,
that industry should largely cease to exist.