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[ NNSquad ] iPad ATT ToS and Verizon's lottery -- bet $30 or pay $18, 000

It’s interesting that the ATT iPad agreement has a long list of prohibited usage modes based on their profiling of applications and their claim that they generate too much traffic on their underpowered network.


It’s interesting that they don’t simply have traffic rules and instead do application profiling based on whatever naïve theories they happen to have. Since I wouldn’t know if I’m using a Wi-Fi path or a 3G path how would I be able to confirm to their path-dependent rules anyway? But that’s the least of the irrationalities that stem trying to channel 21st century bits into 19th century billable paths.


There was also this story in the April 30th Boston Globe about an $18,000 phone bill:

Family, Verizon far apart over nearly $18,000 phone bill

Unfortunately the story treated this as a normal billing problem rather than an extreme example of an irrational marketplace that does real harm. The victim here is not just the family that received the bill but all of us due to a marketplace that charges rent forever for fixed resources. This is why I continue cite Sixteen Tons and it’s story of being in hock to the company store.


Verizon offered to reduce the bill by half as if this were a casino that offered a free room after a gambler lost $18,000 on the spin of a wheel. This is truly lottery pricing because they charge $30 if you pay in advance and $18,000 if you pay later. How can any sane person accept this kind of market place and how depraved can a company be to blame the victim?


Verizon simply says “We go to great lengths to educate our customers on their products and services so that they avoid any unintended bills,’’ Philip Santoro, a spokesman for Verizon Communications Inc., and Michael Murphy, a spokes man for Verizon Wireless, wrote in an e-mailed statement.” The term depraved indifference comes to mind. Like a Goldman Sachs spokesperson saying that their customers are professionals and should expect to be cheated.


I’ve my own experiences. Fortunately in my case Verizon was clearly in the wrong in accidentally removing my data plan but it still took a year to correct the problem. In fact, as I understand it, if Verizon had provided any warning even one day before the end of the billing period then the bill could’ve been reduced to $30 simply because they would retroactively update the plan – after all, it didn’t cost them $18,000!! It didn’t cost them anything! Too bad the story didn’t dig deeper and was presented as a human interest story rather than a story of corporate madness.


Of course there is “competition” – I get to choose who will charge my $18,000 but not whether.