CWA Files FCC Complaint Against Verizon

The Communications Workers of America—whose Verizon wireline employee members in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast are on strike—has joined with Public Knowledge and Common Cause to file an informal complaint against the company. Verizon calls the complaint "ridiculous."

In the complaint, they accuse the company of "systematically deceiving customers, refusing to fix the phone lines of customers on its traditional copper network, and forcing them to switch to the company’s fiber network or lose all service."

They say they support fiber upgrades, but only if it does not harm consumers.

They want the FCC to: (1) investigate these policies and practices; (2) require Verizon immediately to stop deceptive practices; (3) require Verizon to redress any actions taken against consumers under this policy; and (4) take any other action it deems appropriate.

The complaint covers seven states, essentially the same states in which CWA members, along with IBEW, are striking.

"This complaint is completely ridiculous," said Verizon in a statement. "There is no deception whatsoever and we take great exception to this accusation. When a copper customer with chronic service issues calls for a repair, we create two tickets in parallel – a repair ticket, and the ghost service order. When the technician is dispatched, if he finds there’s a simple fix for the copper, we fix the copper. If not and we determine fiber is the only fix, we already have the parallel service order in place. The technician then explains to the customer why we need to upgrade them to fiber and no work is performed without the customer’s consent."

"In our experience we’ve found that a technician explaining in person what needs to be done rather than a disembodied voice over the phone is a much more effective means of communication with our customers. It puts them much more at ease, and once we get them on the fiber, they’re very happy. There is nothing at all deceptive about this practice and the fact that we’ve never heard a peep from the unions about it until now – in the middle of a work stoppage – tells you everything you need to know about what their real motivation is with this complaint."

"It’s nothing more than yet another publicity stunt aimed to distract from the real issues that need to be settled at the bargaining table."

Verizon said last week it had presented its last, best offer.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.