Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Striking workers and allies in front of Verizon's Customer Sales and Service office in Bloomsburg, Pa. (Photo: Betsy Derr)

Verizon Accused of Deceiving Customers as Historic Strike Perseveres

Verizon's fiber-optic cable policy proves 'only profits—not customer service—motivates this company,' says union

Deirdre Fulton

Three weeks after roughly 40,000 Verizon workers began a historic work stoppage to protest the "corporate greed" of the telecom company, the union behind the strike joined pubic interest groups in charging Verizon with "systematically deceiving customers" as part of its push to transfer users from copper telephone wires to fiber service.

The informal complaint (pdf) to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was filed Tuesday by Common Cause, Public Knowledge, the Communications Workers of America (CWA), and several other groups.

It charges that the internal Verizon policy known as "Fiber Is the Only Fix" both deceives customers and constitutes "unjust and unreasonable practices" that violate federal law. It also alleges that Verizon has been giving retail customers as little as 15 days notice before ending their copper service, when FCC rules say they must be given at least 90 days notice.

A press statement from CWA explained:

When a "Fiber is the Only Fix" customer calls in with trouble on their line—such as no dial tone or noise on the line—Verizon creates a "ghost" service order to transfer the customer to fiber service. The service order is called a "ghost" service order because the customer is not told about it.

Verizon then dispatches a technician on the ghost service order. The technician is instructed not to discuss the purpose of the dispatch prior to arriving at the customer’s location. At that time, the technician informs the customer that Verizon no longer repairs copper lines, and the customer must upgrade to fiber. If the customer does not want to upgrade to fiber, Verizon will not allow the technician to repair the copper line and advises the customer that Verizon will disconnect the line.

A Verizon official confirmed to the New York Times that "the company writes up a 'ghost' service order to switch a customer's service before it sends a technician to investigate a problem. The company even uses a ghost icon that resembles a character in the Pac-Man video games to indicate that the company hopes to make the switch."

Tuesday's complaint is the latest salvo in the public relations campaign against Verizon, which is accused of shipping jobs overseas, strong-arming organized labor, and failing to provide high-quality service.

"By instituting this reprehensible policy to deceive customers, Verizon executives proved that only profits—not customer service—motivates this company," said CWA president Chris Shelton, referring to Fiber is the Only Fix.

"Verizon executives violated the law and are forcing our members to join in a program they strongly object to," Shelton said. "With this complaint filed today at the FCC, we are standing up for our customers, just as we are standing up for them every day on picket lines from Massachusetts to Virginia."

Last week, YouGov's Brand Index indicated that as a result of the strike, "consumer perception of the telecom giant has fallen to a three-year low," as TIME magazine reported.

The deterioration in service has become so significant that New York State's Public Service Commission has convened a formal hearing to investigate problems across that state, while regulators in Pennsylvania and New Jersey have launched similar inquiries into Verizon's operations in recent weeks.

Last week, Verizon announced that the company has put its "last, best and final offer" on the table to members of the CWA and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW).

Unfortunately, said CWA, the company's "last and best" was little more than the "same old bullshit."

Organizers have announced that Thursday, May 5 will be a national day of action in support of the striking workers.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'A Basic Human Right': Bowman, Markey Unveil Affordable Energy Bill

Sen. Ed Markey called the proposal "the ambitious and comprehensive legislation we need to help ensure the health and safety of American families and support a just transition away from fossil fuel consumption."

Julia Conley ·

500K Jobs Lost, Starvation Looms as US Holds Afghan Funds Hostage

Sen. Bernie Sanders urged the Biden administration "to immediately release billions in frozen Afghan government funds to help avert this crisis, and prevent the death of millions of people."

Brett Wilkins ·

Senate Panel Approves Antitrust Bill to Rein in Big Tech

"A bipartisan group of senators just stated with a clear voice that Big Tech is too powerful."

Jake Johnson ·

Jamaal Bowman Arrested Alongside Other Voting Rights Protesters

"In the tradition of the late Rep. John Lewis, Jamaal got himself into some good trouble."

Andrea Germanos ·

Humanity at "Doom's Doorstep" Says Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Doomsday Clock, a symbol of "how close we are to destroying our world," remains at 100 seconds to midnight.

Jessica Corbett ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo