Thursday, October 14, 2010

You Are a Verizon Winner...NOT!

I won!  I won a free netbook from the Verizon drawing on Cleveland Park Day on October 3rd.  The Verizon store rep called me last week to give me the good news, but I was out of town at the time and so set the appointment for today, and went out in a cold rain to pick up my prize.  It was worth it for a free Samsung netbook valued at $469, wasn’t it?  I felt so lucky.

Here’s what I learned upon arriving at the store: “Free” actually means you get the prize only after you sign an agreement to pay $59.99 a month for broadband service for two full years.  That’s a total of $1439.76 to get something they billed as a “Giveaway.”  Okay, I said, then I’ll take it unactivated, and sell it to someone who wants to buy the contract. But that wasn’t an option. In other words, if I didn’t agree to pay the money, I got nothing at all.  As I opened my mouth to object, the sales rep said, “It said this on the form you filled out when you entered the drawing.”

“Show it to me,” I said. Sure enough, the words are there, in about 8 point type, the smallest type size used on the form for the drawing:  “Device is free after rebate with new activation or eligible upgrade on plans of $59.99 or higher.” The thing about this “prize” is that it’s actually a more costly to the buyer than the deal you can get can get on this particular netbook if you purchase it from Verizon online: You can choose a lower-level broadband contract for $39.99 a month and they give you the netbook for free.  If the Verizon people who were running this drawing on Cleveland Park Day had made even the slightest mention of the cost of “winning,” or had pointed to the fine print under the line asking me to choose one of three devices to be given away in the “Drawing!” (in Big Type), of course I never would have bothered to enter.  And later, if the rep who told me over the phone that I had “won” had said one word about the cost of winning, I could have declined, in the comfort of my own home, to take the deal.  And as to that “drawing” – I would stake my life on the fact that every single entrant in the “drawing” has received a cheery “You won!” call. There’s no lottery involved. Every one of us who filled out the form unwittingly agreed to be given a sales pitch for this two-year broadband deal.

To top it all off, after I refused the deal, I asked to have my parking ticket validated so that at least the parking wouldn’t cost me. “Sorry, we don’t validate,” was the answer. 


  1. I'd suggest reporting this to the Public Service Commission - it's fraud, plain and simple.

  2. I always ask, "What's the catch, what's the hidden costs?" when I sign something (like lawaway, contests, ANYTHING).

    Nothing is for free anymore. It seems everything is a racket.

  3. P.S. Also, especially, GIFT CARDS (which I don't use, a billion $ profit for the companies issuing them). They always have an administrative fee after a few months or so, and if you don't use it, well, when you do, there's NOTHING LEFT!