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AT&T Wants Verizon Penalized for Stupid Marketing

By® Staff

Originally Posted

AT&T has asked regulators to sanction Verizon Communications for alienating its own customers.

Verizon has twice advertised its long-distance service in May and June mailings to its New Jersey residential phone customers. Trouble is, regulators have not approved Verizon's application and the company doesn't offer the service.

The first mistake sounded plausible: A direct-mail company mistakenly sent 4000 letters advertising the service. But a month later, Verizon "accidentally" stuffed inserts promoting its non-existent long-distance service into 500,000 customer bills.

Spokesman Bob Bishop cagily said, "It's ludicrous to suggest that we in any way would send out something that does nothing but confuse our customers." AT&T believes confusion is exactly the idea, particularly after Verizon followed the 500,000-piece mailing with another that, while apologizing, reinforced the idea that local phone company Verizon would be offering long-distance service before long.

Even after Verizon admitted the "mistake," AT&T says, one of Mr. T's creative lawyers actually was able to "sign up" for the non-existent Verizon service, pretty much scuttling any Verizon claim of inadvertency.

Similarly, AT&T says, Verizon has promoted its long-distance service to business customers in Virginia, even though Verizon lacks regulatory permission to offer the service.

Bob Bishop, a busy guy, says this "error" occurred when marketing letters destined for Rhode Island were inadvertently mailed to 1,800 business customers in Virginia.

My goodness, it looks like these guys are candidates for a new mailing service, doesn't it? Footnote: In the continuing bellowing of the elephantine phone companies, AT&T further complains that, in Pennsylvania, Verizon has filed tariffs that will charge wholesale customers, like AT&T, more than Verizon charges residential customers.

Looks like a pretty good marketing trick, if you can get away with it.

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