David Lazarus of the The Los Angeles Times blasts Verizon today for withholding contract terms from customers until AFTER they have signed up for service – and some of the contract terms are ones that I sure wouldn’t agree to:
For years, credit card issuers have gotten away with withholding contracts from customers until they actually have the plastic in their hands — a practice that denies many people a fair chance to look under the hood for onerous terms and conditions.Now it looks like Verizon has adopted the same technique.
What really struck [Torrance, California resident Sandy Lough] was the discovery that to receive the promised discount for her bundled plan, she’d have to go online and agree to a 2,000-word “bundle service agreement” and a 7,000-word terms of service for Internet access.
This was the first time she was being presented with the full contract for her new FiOS setup, and the service had already been installed and activated.
The LA Times article goes on to mention some of the more notable terms of the contract. The interesting thing is that it would appear that this is not simply an oversight – that perhaps Verizon deliberately withholds contract terms from customers until they’ve already committed to the service:
As for why the full contract is withheld until after FiOS has been installed in a person’s home, [Verizon spokesman Cliff Lee] said only that “this is the way we’ve found that works.”
Now, I Am Not A Lawyer, but it seems to me that in the old days a court would never enforce a contract imposed “after the fact”, that is, after the deal had been consummated and the customer had signed on the dotted line. What has happened to make large corporations think they can simply change the deal at their whim, after a customer has already signed on the dotted line, without giving the customer the same right? Did someone slip a new amendment to the Constitution when I wasn’t looking, saying that corporations can do any sly legal maneuvering they want, and the courts are forced to go along with it, while individual consumers are put at a disadvantage?
This is one reason I’m not making too big a stink about Verizon not offering FiOS in Michigan. Sure, it would be nice to have those high speeds, delivered via fiber. But in the long run, I’d rather see a competitive market of many smaller broadband providers than one or two large mammoth corporations that seem to think they can do whatever they want to the consumer.
I know the amendment I’d like to see put into the constitution:
“Only an actual, physical human being shall be given the rights of a person under the law.”
Like I said, I’m not a lawyer, but that about sums it up. It would mean that no large corporation, with almost infinite legal resources and billions of dollars behind them, would be able to use their wealth to put real people at a disadvantage, because it would be presumed that only the real person had any rights. Think about that for a while, and how much it would change things from the way things are today!
Edit: Additional commentary at DSLreports