Verizon Communications: You Can Take the Boy Out of the Bell System but...

The surviving pieces of the old AT&T empire—Verizon Communications, the new AT&T, Qwest Communications—have spent the last quarter-century trying to transform themselves from dinosaurs that could only survive in a heavily regulated, monopolistic environment to modern, competitive communications company. Every so often, we see evidence of how far they still have to go.

My employer recently switched its long-distance service—the whole notion of long distance sounds very 20th century—from AT&T to Verizon. I got a shiny new Verizon long-distance credit card, which I only use on the relatively rare occasions when I am away from the office and need a landline, typically to get better sound quality for recording or broadcast.

For the past two months, Verizon has dutifully sent me a three-page paper statement describing my usage in great detail. The two bills have come to $1.50 and 32 cents. Each cost $1.05 to mail and who knows how much to process. I hope that somewhere in the bowels of corporate accounts payable these bills are being aggregated, so that we aren’t cutting, and Verizon doesn’t have to process, a big stack of checks for less than $1 each.

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