Confusing Fact and Fiction at Techdirt

by on June 25, 2008 · 5 comments

Mike Masick over on Techdirt yesterday decried the “amount of misinformation flying around” on the retention marketing issue.  Unfortunately, however, his attempt to clear things up actually added to the airborne debris. 

Specifically, Mike claims that I erred the other day in writing that the question at hand was whether Verizon can contact customers who have agreed to switch telephone service providers, and ask them not to switch.  That, he says, is incorrect.  Saying that “no one” is saying that telcos can’t try to convince customers not to switch, he claims the issue is instead whether Verizon can delay  making the change while it trys to take them out of it: 

What the FCC has said is that Verizon cannot abuse its position to block the switch while it tries to convince customers not to switch. That’s what Verizon is doing. When it gets the request from the cable companies to switch, it basically goes into procrastinate mode, even though it’s required to process the switch. It codes the switch request as a “conflict” which gives it extra time to resolve the “conflict” before obeying the switch request.

Masick is simply wrong.  The FCC’s order, released Monday, explains clearly that a conflict code is entered only after Verizon is successful at convincing a customer not to change carriers.  There’s no claim that, or even a reference to, Verizon improperly delaying any pending switch requests (although the cable industry is certainly pushing for telcos to be required to make switches more quickly).

What the FCC did say was that the information contained in the switch request (i.e., that the customer wants to change), is “proprietary,” and that — to quote Commissioner McDowell: “marketing efforts [based on that information] cannot take place during the window of time when a customer’s phone number is being switched”.

Bottom line:  I stand by my original post.

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