Verizon Long-Distance Customers Avoid Extra Fees

BACKGROUND -- In articles appearing in the Los Angeles Times and Dow Jones, it was reported that the top three long distance providers are planning rate increases for consumers in 2002 . The articles went on to indicate that some of the larger providers are charging significant administration fees in excess of the 6.9 per cent established under federal guidelines for the Universal Service Fund. Verizon's calling plans compared very favorably with others cited in yesterday's report by the Telecommunications Research and Action Center (TRAC) available at http://trac.policy.net.relatives/1740.PDF. The following response should be attributed to Jill Wagner, vice president-retail consumer marketing for Verizon.

"We may be bucking the trend, but Verizon Long Distance does not anticipate any price increases for its domestic services in the near future.

And unlike some of our competitors, Verizon Long Distance collects only the 6.9 percent Universal Service Fund fee itself; we do not add a separate administration charge, as others do, even though that is allowed.

We also do not charge to send a single bill, as others do, and we have no in-state toll calling surcharges, as others do. Simplicity is our goal.

Verizon offers simple, surprise-free services to residential customers in 40 states. Our success demonstrates customers are seeking a different kind of long distance company, one without the usual gimmicks. We have been successful by leading with value and not price and by streamlining and simplifying customer transactions to improve the customer experience with Verizon.

When we looked at the market, we saw plenty of deals that manipulated the price-per-minute and buried customer costs in surcharges and minimum usage requirements. Our per-minute rates may not always be the lowest, but they are all you pay.

Verizon, currently the fourth largest long-distance provider in the country with more than 7 million customers, delivers what consumers and businesses want: one-stop shopping plans and packages that are simple, easy-to-understand and a good value. Our long- distance plans come with simple, competitive per-minute rates with no pricing gimmicks. Most plans do not include monthly recurring charges or minimums.

What is more, when we enter a new market, competition for all telecommunications services heats up and consumers save millions of dollars as service providers fight for customers' business. Overall, we're good for the market and we're good for the consumer."