Verizon Communications Inc. had a deal that many consumers couldn’t pass up: a free voice-activated Amazon Echo smart speaker and a one-year Amazon Prime membership subscription with a $79-a-month two-year contract for gigabit internet, television, and phone.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro is now saying that consumers couldn’t get the Echo and Prime, and then faced a potential $350 termination fee for breaking the two-year contract, in a lawsuit filed on Monday in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
Shapiro clams that Verizon violated consumer protection laws. Though the suit was filed in Philadelphia, the marketing campaign and potential violations took place statewide, the Attorney General’s Office said. The office did not specify the number of complaints.
Shapiro asks in the suit that Verizon stop the marketing campaign and pay unspecified restitution and penalties.
Verizon spokesperson Richard Young said Monday that “we are frankly surprised by today’s lawsuit. We’ve been engaged in a productive dialogue with the Attorney General’s Office. We had a few technical issues with this promotion, but we have worked hard to address all the issues we know about. Lawsuit or no lawsuit, we will do right by our customers.”
According to the suit, the “on us” marketing campaign began Nov. 18, 2018 But because of delays in receiving the Echo or Prime membership, consumers who sought to cancel the FIOS package faced termination fees. The problem appeared to be that a hyperlink that was supposed to give Verizon customers access to the free Echo or Prime membership did not work.
“Consumers who called Verizon to inquire about their inability to claim their items were placed on hold, were transferred to multiple Verizon representatives, were told someone from Verizon would call them back, did not receive a call back, and were forced to call Verizon again and go through the same cycle,” the suit says.
A marketing flier for the campaign filed with the suit pitched the $79-a-month price “+Amazon Prime & Echo.”