Consumers Give Verizon Long-Distance Top Marks in Yankee Group Survey

NEW YORK - Consumers gave Verizon's residential long-distance service the highest rating for "overall satisfaction, " ahead of "Big Three" competitors AT&T, MCI and Sprint, on the Yankee Group's annual Technologically Advanced Family® Survey.

Of customers queried, 76 percent gave Verizon's service "excellent or above average" ratings compared to 75 percent for Sprint, 74 percent for AT&T and 68 percent for MCI.

"Our customers are speaking volumes with this vote," said Jill Wagner, vice president of consumer marketing for Verizon.

"They're saying that our simple, hassle-free service plans and one-stop shopping option mean a lot to them. Perhaps that's why we have surpassed the 7-million total customer mark," Wagner said.

Verizon provides long-distance service in 40 states, including New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Pennsylvania in the local phone markets formerly served by Bell Atlantic. The company is proceeding with long-distance applications for nine more Northeast and mid-Atlantic states and the District of Columbia. The company hopes that those applications will be approved by the end of 2002.

According to the Yankee Group, the Boston-based technology research and consulting group, Verizon's "strong customer acquisition strategies" are a key factor in bolstering the company's customer rating.

"By leveraging its brand and its ability to offer a natural local and long-distance voice bundle, Verizon is able to leap ahead of the 'Big Three' interexchange carriers --AT&T, MCI, and Sprint -- in overall consumer ratings," said Imran Khan, a senior analyst with the Yankee Group.

According to Wagner, a key factor is the company's approach of offering service packages with no complicated terms or pricing elements.

"When we looked at the market, we saw plenty of deals that promoted the price-per-minute, but buried customer costs in surcharges and minimum usage requirements," she said. "Our per-minute rates may not always be the lowest, but they are very competitive. We don't add a surcharge for in-state toll calls like AT&T does in many states, and we don't charge extra for a single local and long distance bill, like AT&T and Sprint do.

"Simplicity matters to customers," she said, noting that the company has a variety of innovative plans ranging from its pre-paid SmartTouch plan to a plan that can only be purchased online but offers reduced per-minute rates.

The company's performance in the long-distance markets formerly served by GTE is increasing the customer base in those 36 states and the creative plans are reducing customer churn, Wagner said.

Verizon Communications

Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) is one of the world's leading providers of communications services. Verizon companies are the largest providers of wireline and wireless communications in the United States, with 128.5 million access line equivalents and 28.7 million wireless customers. Verizon is also the largest directory publisher in the world. A Fortune 10 company with 256,000 employees and approximately $65 billion in annual revenues, Verizon's global presence extends to more than 40 countries in the Americas, Europe, Asia and the Pacific. For more information on Verizon, visit www.verizon.com.