Back in 2006 we wrote about a consumer who had subscribed to Verizon’s unlimited broadband EVDO service only to get his account canceled for high usage. Unlimited usually means… well, never-ending, unrestricted, or infinite. Verizon marketed this service as such, except that they applied restrictions to the ‘unlimited’ part of it. The man received a letter saying his usage was so high that they were canceling the service. Never in the fine print did they say that their unlimited plan had a limit.
Then in April of this year, we noticed that Verizon had changed their terms (in the fine print of course) which outlined that their unlimited plan could only be used up to 5GB a month, otherwise usage was considered unacceptable and service would be terminated. Shortly after we published our discovery, other sites caught on and this news spread like wildfire. At the time we had several lawyers contact us wanting the contact information for anyone we knew of who were users of the service so that a class-action lawsuit could be filed. We didn’t provide them with any information, but knew it was only going to be a matter of time before Verizon would be in legal trouble for false advertising.
That leads us to today. Just yesterday Verizon agreed to pay $1 million dollars for their “unlimited” but limited EVDO plans. Over 13,000 customers in all were cut-off from the service, and those customers will now be reimbursed for the hardware that they bought to use the service which no longer serves a purpose. To get to this settlement, it took nine months of investigation to look at Verizon’s services and how they market them. Obviously they had been falsely advertising for quite some time.
New York Attorney General Andrew Cumo announced the settlement and said that Verizon was producing “misleading materials and deceptive marketing” for claiming that the plans were unlimited when they really weren’t. He also said they “indirectly contradicted the promise of unlimited service.” Of course Verizon is no longer advertising “Unlimited Broadband Access” (apparently they don’t want another legal battle), they’re just calling it “Broadband Access” which is what it should have been called from the start.
It’s nice to see that Verizon had to face the consequences for falsely marketing and selling an unlimited service. Clearly they learned that they can’t say unlimited unless they actually mean it, and they now know that false advertising, while it may give you an increase in customers, eventually just lands you in legal trouble.