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Verizon Bases $5 Fee To Not Publish Your Phone Number On 'Systems and IT' Costs 331

Posted by Soulskill
from the also-on-'give-us-your-money'-costs dept.
coondoggie writes "Let's say that for whatever reason, you'd rather your telephone number not be published. If you are a Verizon customer, that privacy privilege will cost you $5 a month. And how does Verizon justify such a significant fee for such an insignificant service? 'The cost charged to offer unlisted phone numbers is chiefly systems and IT based,' a media relations spokesman for the company tells Network World. (Asking the same question of online customer service elicited a predictably unenlightening response.) Sixty dollars a year to keep an unpublished number unpublished? Does that seem plausible?"
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Verizon Bases $5 Fee To Not Publish Your Phone Number On 'Systems and IT' Costs

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  • Revenue Stream (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:21PM (#41002681)

    It's called "alternate revenue streams" and they will try to nickle&dime-XXL you for almost everything. A one-time charge would be plausible, but a MONTHLY fee? This is gauging. But... guess what? There's nothing you can do.

    • by jxander (2605655)

      There's nothing you can do.

      My first reaction was "Oh yes there is..."

      But in light of another very recent /. article [slashdot.org], I'm not sure if the alternatives are any better.

      So, do you want to give up your 4th amendment, or pay $60 a year?

      • Average Jane: "Uh....Uh.....I don't know!"

        You see, Jane understands that she is being asked to part with $60.....but she isn't quite sure what this "4th amendment" is, and she isn't sure if she wants to give it up. Tune in next week to see Jane depart with her $60 in a desperate gamble for safety.

      • So the phone book is a violation of your right to no unreasonable search and seizure? I suppose having a social security number is also a violation of the 4th amendment then? You're forced to provide your name and other details to the government.

        Note: The 4th amendment doesn't stop private entities looking through your shit. It stops the government.
    • Re:Revenue Stream (Score:5, Informative)

      by Joce640k (829181) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:35PM (#41002893) Homepage

      $5 per month is no longer in the realm of "nickel& dime", it's bare-faced robbery.

      • $5 per month is no longer in the realm of "nickel& dime", it's bare-faced robbery.

        I guess I'm old, but I recall Bell charging more than that to keep land lines unlisted.

        • I was looking to see if anyone mentioned this. I don't think it's reasonable or anything, but it's not something new and crazy to be outraged about. It's really an opportunity, I think, for one of the majors or a new upstart to come along and offer total-privacy services. For example, a data-only service that allows you to use your choice of IP-based voice communication. Combine that with services like burner [gigaom.com], you could have a lot of happy people buying data-only services. If T-Mobile or Sprint were to
          • Actually I'm pretty sure I used to pay $14/ month to Bell for an unlisted number. Now that I think about it, AT&T put anonymous call rejection on on my land line 15 years ago and charged me $5/ month for it until I noticed it an cancelled it. I didn't even have caller-ID at the time, so it made no sense at all.
    • by camperslo (704715)

      There's nothing you can do.

      yeah? Maybe they'd notice if everyone here called up Verizon, asked about this, and gave an informed opinion. Some people might switch to other carriers, or some looking for one might avoid them. If that's the case, be sure to tell them why they're losing your business, so they are fully aware of the opportunity to improve.

      Responsiveness varies depending on who you talk to, so it is possible it would be worth calling more than once.

      Since they're regulated by government agencies, feedback to those is appr

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by roman_mir (125474)

      But... guess what? There's nothing you can do.

      - sure you can. You can get rid of the gov't regulations and licenses and taxes and stop inflation and then there will be actual businesses built in all industries, including the one Verizon is in.

      Do you realise that throughout 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century (before the Fed was set up) the prices for consumer goods and services CONSTANTLY WENT DOWN?

      If you didn't know that, you should research this topic. Of-course there were no gov't regulations, income taxes, money printing, licens

    • It's called "alternate revenue streams" and they will try to nickle&dime-XXL you for almost everything. A one-time charge would be plausible, but a MONTHLY fee? This is gauging. But... guess what? There's nothing you can do.

      Actually, yes, there is a lot you can do. These days prepaid, non-contract cellular service compares favorably and most times you come out ahead. I used to be with Verizon Wireless until I discovered Page Plus Cellular [pagepluscellular.com] in January of 2009 and haven't looked back. Page Plus Cellular uses Verizon's network and you can activate a Verizon-branded phone or buy one from PP's website. For 55.00 per month, I have unlimited talk, text, and 2GB of 3G web. That 55.00 per month includes taxes too. If you don't hav

      • Thanks so much for posting this! I'm looking at Page Plus right now and dreaming of ditching Verizon! They have been sapping my family for $200 a month.

    • by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:54PM (#41004373)

      Well what they could have done is have a $5 fee to have an unlisted number as one option, and a different $5 fee if do you want your number listed.

    • Re:Revenue Stream (Score:5, Interesting)

      by currently_awake (1248758) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:00PM (#41004443)
      Yes it does cost them $5/month. This is how much money they lose selling your name.
    • Re:Revenue Stream (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kenh (9056) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @09:25PM (#41004725) Homepage Journal

      The $5 isn't the cost to 'not publish' the number, it is most likely a reflection of the value of that telephone number to various DB and telemarketers. By in listing the number, Verizon can't sell the data to third-parties. The dollar amount is likely as high as it is to try an discourage anyone from wanting the service, giving Verizon more numbers to sell and fewer exceptions to look out for in their database.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:22PM (#41002703)

    Their system is design to make money for them while annoying you. I'd say it is working.

  • by realitycheckplease (2487810) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:22PM (#41002711)
    $60 a year for doing what? Nothing? Surely marking a number as unlisted in the subscriber database is a once-off 30 activity of at most 5 minutes. So who's being paid $720 an hour for doing it?
    • by zlives (2009072)

      comcast does the same thing

    • by Solandri (704621)

      Surely marking a number as unlisted in the subscriber database is a once-off 30 activity of at most 5 minutes. So who's being paid $720 an hour for doing it?

      The market value of something is based on two things: How much it costs to provide, and how much people are willing to pay for it. In this case an unlisted number is worth more than $60/yr for some people, so they're willing to pay for it.

      Normally, competition would drive the market price down to just above the cost to provide the service. But si

    • by PT_1 (2425848) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:54PM (#41003145)

      $60 a year for doing what? Nothing? Surely marking a number as unlisted in the subscriber database is a once-off 30 activity of at most 5 minutes. So who's being paid $720 an hour for doing it?

      I doubt it's even a 5 minute job. I work for a large telco in Europe. If a customer over here asks for their number not to be printed, we have to honour that request and we're not allowed (by law) to charge a cent for doing so. The phone directory is based on a database, which is linked to our customer care software. If a customer asks for their number to be removed from the phone book, a customer care agent clicks the button on their screen and the database is updated overnight. Factoring in a staff member's time, overheads for running the call centre etc., a call like this costs on average the equivalent of just over $4. Charging $60 per year is outrageous.

    • by hurfy (735314) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @07:58PM (#41003827)

      That's how much they WON'T get paid for selling your phone number :(

    • So who's being paid $720 an hour for doing it?

      The CEO?

    • by Shark (78448)

      Actually, if it's like Canada, they actually get paid for listing you. I think the idea here is to make it cost prohibitive to unlist yourself so as to not see that revenue stream drain away. They do not get paid 5 bucks a month to list you, mind you. It's probably a cent or two if not fractions of that. At least that's what we get paid for listing phone numbers.

  • The only reason they need to give is, "Because we can." That's what monopoly status buys you.

  • It's true, folks! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:24PM (#41002721) Journal

    Verizon has built a system where it is cost-effective to track every single $.10 text message and minute of call time; but it costs $5/month, forever, to keep a database field set to 'no' rather than 'yes'... Surely this is entirely plausible, no?

  • by Anonymous Coward

    They charge you 5$ because you will pay it. Don't like it? Vote with your wallet and switch to another provider. Oh, too much of a hassle so you'll just pay the 5$? That's why they are charging 5$. Because you will pay it. "Cost" has nothing to do with "price." Willingness to pay sets price.

    • by sjames (1099)

      I say we the market should bear the CEO's office. A hungry North American Grizzly should do nicely.

    • by Firehed (942385)

      "Contracts"

      You may want to look into them. I'd be quite surprised if this is a large enough change to provide you with a window to end your service contract without the ETF (unlike, say, raising rates or changing contents of the plan, which definitely is)

  • They probably figured that people who don't really care would rather be listed, but were unlikely to pay for it specifically. Assuming they have to hire people/design a system to list some numbers and not others, they pushed the cost onto people who would be willing to pay. Yawn.

    Why it's a monthly instead of a one-time fee, I couldn't tell you. Trying to make a continuous revenue stream out of privacy fanatics I guess.
    • by Mitreya (579078)

      They probably figured that people who don't really care would rather be listed, but were unlikely to pay for it

      Not at all! They are selling the listed people's numbers and figured they need another way to get money from from people who do not want their number to be sold

      Trying to make a continuous revenue stream out of privacy fanatics

      There are some legitimate reasons to be unlisted though. Think of Sarah Connor! Or, more realistically, someone who had changed their number to avoid harassing calls. Demanding $5/month to hide your number seems like blackmail to me. At least when they have a land-line monopoly.

  • Justification (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TimHunter (174406) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:25PM (#41002743)

    And how does Verizon justify such a significant fee for such an insignificant service?

    Because fuck you, that's why.

    • by Holi (250190) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @07:42PM (#41003681)

      No, to quote one of the funniest ladies of all time,
      " You see, this phone system consists of a multibillion-dollar matrix of space age technology that is so sophisticated -- even we can't handle it. But that's your problem, isn't it? So, the next time you complain about your phone service, why don't you try using two Dixie cups with a string? We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company. "

  • by Dyinobal (1427207) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:26PM (#41002751)
    Welp at least I can go to one of the many other carriers, because there is no way they would implement such a fee themselves! I'm glad competition is so fierce between wireless carriers, I always feel like I'm getting a great deal.
  • Old News (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:26PM (#41002757) Homepage Journal

    POTS vendors have always had this policy. It's stupid, but it's easy to circumvent. Since they let you publish the listing under any name you want, you make one up. When I had a landline, it was under "Gigo Hasp" (old IBM mainframe joke).

    • by faedle (114018)

      My variant of that was to use the name "Montgomery, Bart".

      Those in San Francisco will get the joke.

    • Sort of gives me the urge to post it under the name "FTC Field Office", just to see how many telemarketing types are either too stupid or ballsy to notice.

    • by cawpin (875453)

      POTS vendors have always had this policy.

      Um, no they haven't. I've never heard of a phone company charging for this. It is ridiculous.

      • They have in the U.S..
      • by fm6 (162816)

        I apologize for your ignorance. Perhaps you're too young to have actually used POTS. Nowadays most people just have cells (including me), and of course cell phones are never listed.

    • by xs650 (741277)
      There used to be a Jack Meoff in our local phone book.
  • by paleo2002 (1079697) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:27PM (#41002783)
    Similar to the "convenience fees" many utilities, companies, and government agencies charge to conduct business via their web sites. Why does it cost money to NOT publish my phone number? Why does it cost money to renew my car registration online via an automated system instead of at a building that costs rent and overhead with a human employee? Why does it cost my bank $3 a page to mail me copies of old bank statements (and why can't they send me pdf's)?

    Perhaps we've hit upon a new revenue stream. We could call it "Unservice" or "Negative Features".
    • Why does it cost money to NOT publish my phone number?

      Because they make money providing their customer lists to the people who publish phone directories, political organizations that request the list, telemarketers, etc.

      Why does it cost money to renew my car registration online via an automated system instead of at a building that costs rent and overhead with a human employee?

      Because the whole point of a car registration is to serve as an impediment to prevent any idiot from buying a car. Doesn't work very well, but can you imagine how bad it would be if people who couldn't scrape together $35 once a year were allowed to operate and maintain a car? It costs a lot more than $35/year to keep a car safe; oil changes al

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Why does it cost money to renew my car registration online via an automated system instead of at a building that costs rent and overhead with a human employee?

      Because until they can do away with the brick and mortar, they have to pay for both the building/employees and the web-servers/sysadmins. That doesn't justify a 10000% markup for a non-service though.

  • Extortion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sqreater (895148) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @06:30PM (#41002813)
    When you threaten to do something bad to someone, like give out their phone number, unless you are paid, you are engaging in extortion.
  • I bet they have to pay a Verizon employee to daily verify your phone number is still on the list (can you see me now?).

    Or maybe it is like the Verizon witness protection program. Your phone number will get its own case agent. Hey, this stuff costs money.

    Can you tell I used to be a Verizon customer?

  • It's always been like this. The phone company (ever since the dark days of the Bell/AT&T monopoly) has always charged extra to "have an unlisted number" in the phone book. Not only is this not "new" news..... it's 60-year-old news from the era of my great-grandparents.

  • Welcome to Canada. They've been doing that to us here for decades, now you know exactly what it's like. And you get all the fringe benefits too.

  • Clearly, the answer is to get rid of all the pesky regulations on businesses, because the free market would make every business honest.

    Or something.

  • They monetize a published number by publishing a directory, publishing reverse directories, publishing area directories for use in direct marketing, and so on. Forget that there are laws about these things being used to actually call you without your permission or a preexisting business relationship, since anyone who buys the drivetories from them is a business partner, and therefore entitled to call you.

    What they are saying is that they are making some value $X, where $0 $X = $60 off of this process, and

    • ah, I get it, now. we COST them money by asking for privacy.

      its their RIGHT to monetize every thing possible. if we stand in their god-given right of way toward cashola, they get angry.

      understood. thanks for the explanation.

  • ...because you, and millions like you, will pay it, because you think you can't live without a cel phone. Same as all the other weird fees.

  • If you don't want us to publish your information, we'll have to charge you. That sounds a lot like "If you don't want to see those pictures in the papers, it's cost $$$$". The big difference is that (at least in fiction) the blackmailer only extorts you once. Now I can see that there could possib;y be a one-off cost to removing a name from a default of "publish". But to keep charging, every month? Nah!
  • by Greyfox (87712) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @07:20PM (#41003459) Homepage Journal
    But then my middle name is '; drop table subscribers;
  • by MattW (97290) <matt@ender.com> on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @07:28PM (#41003543) Homepage

    Twice I got reps to list my name as John Doe for my phone number listing. When someone called for Mr. Doe, I said I was speaking. Whatever they offered, I quickly sounded very interesting, and said, "Just one minute, I'll be right back, that sounds great." Then I would set the phone down (not hanging up) and go about my business. Then I simply stopped getting a land line.

    • by nukenerd (172703)
      Better still, say in a heavy foreign accent "My eeeenleeeeesh is verrry bad. Pleeez you speeeek veeeeeeerry slow to me". Then set the phone down.

      Pick it up after a while and if they are still there say "Pleeeez beegeeen once more. I not understaaaand you well. At the beeegeeening pliz"

      Then "I theeenk you need to speeek to nother deeeferent person. I fetch that person. Pleeeez wait now"
  • by Cornwallis (1188489) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @07:30PM (#41003569)

    But I'm waiting to start receiving the monthly bill for not having Verizon.

  • Hello. Is this Chuck U. Farley?

  • by dgharmon (2564621) on Wednesday August 15, 2012 @08:41PM (#41004225) Homepage

    If unlisted(customer.no) == TRUE then add.to.bill($5) else return 'number unlisted';

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