Verizon's Obnoxious Plan to Make More Money

Verizon landline phone

“I’m baaaaaaaaaaaaack!” (Photo via Thinkstock)

Verizon has generally enjoyed pretty solid customer relations over recent years, mostly due to the terribleness of AT&T’s wireless network and the nine-stages-of-hell bureaucracy that is Comcast. (I’ve been wrangling with Comcast for eight months about a modem that I returned, but that they promptly lost). For a long time,Verizon was the best company in telecommunications simply by not being the worst.

This weekend, however, the Globe reported that Verizon decided to take a plunge into idiocy, by requiring all new DSL customers to add a landline service. That’s right: You can no longer buy just internet service from Verizon. If you’d like to connect to the World Wide Web — which is practically a requirement for business and school these days — the company is going to force you into installing and paying monthly service charges for a landline phone. Clicking around Verizon’s website, the base price for DSL service is currently $25 a month; if you add in the now-required “bundled” landline, you’re looking at a $30 monthly bill. Yup: Verizon’s going to charge you $60 extra a year for a service you don’t want.

This is utterly insane. I can’t even think of an equivalent (readers, if you can, please chime in below, in the comments). It’s like going to Stop & Shop, and finding all the jars of strawberry jelly duct-taped to jars of peanut butter, with a sticker saying “SORRY, IF YOU WANT JELLY, YOU MUST BUY PEANUT BUTTER. IF YOU ARE ALLERGIC, SUCKS TO BE YOU.” Or, if you went to McDonald’s, tried to order a cheeseburger, and automatically received fries, a Coke, and a higher price tag. (“Extra value meals now required!”) No questions — here’s all the extra stuff you don’t want, and oh, here’s the higher price we’re going to charge you.

Listen, Verizon: I know you’re scared. People are cutting their landlines left and right. As the Globe pointed out, according to a report by the CDC, a majority of the younger generation doesn’t have a landline: 58 percent of people between 25 and 29 only have a cellphone. It’s a rapidly growing trend, given that between 2008 and 2011, the number of wireless-only households nearly doubled, from 17.5 to 31.6 percent. (I’m one of those households: I haven’t lived with a landline in 11 years, and see no reason to ever get one). Young people know a simple fact: the landline is the vestigial organ of technology, a totally useless communications method that we’ve excised out of our lives to preemptively avoid any unexpected problems and fees.

Granted, that’s a lot of Verizon customers that you can’t charge for an outdated service any more, but you’re probably already making boatloads of money off those people, considering that 108 million Americans subscribe to Verizon Wireless, which is the largest cell company in the country. And if their bills look anything like mine, they’re probably paying close to $100 a month. That’s not good enough for you guys? I really need to explain that requiring people to pick up an extra service that they don’t want — and charging them extra for it — is not a good business practice? You’re alienating customers. If anything, you’re just going to drive them into the sweaty arms of Comcast.

And finally: The extra charges are obnoxious, but I don’t even want a landline for FREE. I am already responsible for responding to messages received on my cell phone (both texts and voicemails), work phone, personal email, work email, as well as on Facebook and Twitter. I don’t want yet another telecommunications service to be responsible for. After responding to messages on my seven various service, I want to go out and, you know, live. Not set up an answering machine.