Shapiro claims victory against rule allowing small business owners to band together for lower insurance rates
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Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced a lawsuit against Verizon Communications Inc. (“Verizon”), allegedly for failing to deliver promised incentive items to consumers who enrolled in certain two-year contracts with the company.
According to the lawsuit, Verizon advertised to consumers that they would receive a free Amazon Echo and, in some cases, a free Amazon Prime subscription, for beginning or renewing specific contracts between November-January 2018.
Shapiro’s office says customers were told they would receive an email with instructions on claiming the incentive items after the account with Verizon had been active for 31 days. According to the attorney general that did not happen – consumers never received a hyperlink to obtain their free Echo and/or Amazon Prime membership as promised. When consumers called Verizon to inquire about the missing redemption hyperlink, Verizon told consumers they were aware of the issue and echoed that it would be addressed according to the lawsuit.
The Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection says it found that Verizon did not correct the hyperlink problems for months, and certain consumers never received their free Echo or Amazon Prime Membership. Despite this, the consumers remain enrolled in the Verizon contracts and are subject to early termination fees to get out of their 2-year contract.
“If a company chooses to promise incentives to consumers signing up for their services, it is their legal responsibility to deliver on those promises,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “My Bureau of Consumer Protection will stand up and fight for Pennsylvanians and make sure they get an honest deal. Consumers should not have to be put on hold or bounced around multiple company personnel in order to get answers, and if Verizon knew of an issue in fulfilling their promises to consumers, they should have corrected those problems quickly or stopped offering the program until it was fixed.”
The Office of Attorney General found that while Verizon knew there were issues with consumers’ ability to claim their promised items, the company continued to market the offer and enroll consumers in additional 2-year agreements with promised incentives. Consumers who contacted Verizon to get help on claiming incentives were subjected to long hold times on the phone and were transferred to multiple agents, without receiving assistance.
The complaint alleges that Verizon’s conduct constituted violations of the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law. The lawsuit by Attorney General Shapiro’s office requests injunctive relief, restitution, civil penalties and other equitable relief as authorized by law.
The lawsuit was filed today in the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas by the Bureau’s Director, Sarah A. E. Frasch, Assistant Director, John M. Abel, and Attorney in Charge of the Philadelphia Office, Thomas J. Blessington.