Verizon Wireless & CPNI

I got en email from Verizon today, which I get about once a month saying our wireless bill is ready. Usually I just delete it, but out of chance I started reading into this one. I saw it was a privacy notice, which we receive from about every company we do business with, once a year. No big deal.

But for some reason, I kept reading…

Remember all the hoopla last year about everyone’s cell phone number becoming “fair game” for telemarketers, and the whole “Do Not Call” registry? At the time, Verizon said they would never release their customers’ phone numbers to telemarketers and all that. Good for them.

So after reading through the privacy agreement, I’ll agree they haven’t (technically) released our numbers, even though we started getting funny phone calls this past year or so. Here’s the catch…

Verizon collects CPNI, or Customer Proprietary Network Information. This means they collect information on us that is privileged to them because we use their product. I’m sure every company collects this stuff. In Verizon’s case, it probably means they collect things like who we call, times of day we call, and probably things attached to us financially (after all, you do give them the right to check your credit history when you first become a customer – I don’t suppose they ever give up that right?).

Their privacy statement says they collect this information, and share it with their partners and their subsidiaries and affiliates. Technically, that’s not “telemarketers” but just their business family. So it just struck me…

When I make calls to my credit card company, I start getting calls on my CELL PHONE from “Financial Card Services” telemarketers. When we took a loan out against my car, I started getting calls on my CELL PHONE from “National Auto Warranty” telemarketers. When I called Wellmark last year for health insurance, I started getting calls on my CELL PHONE from “Healthcare Insurers of America” telemarketers. I always did find it alarmingly coincidental that I was getting telemarketing calls regarding subjects that I were currently dealing with. I guess it wasn’t coincidence after all.

But the best part is the times I’d get these calls. My memory tells me they most often came over the lunch hour, shortly after work, or shortly after 9:00 at night. Now when do I most often use my phone…lunch time to call my wife and after work to call my wife. At 9:00 PM my free minutes kick in. So who do you suppose told these “non-telemarketers” what times are best to reach me on my phone?

Verizon… sneakiest basterds yet!

So anyway, I followed the procedure to tell Verizon not to share our CPNI with anyone. They said they will respect our wishes for two years, because obviously we’d like them to start sharing our CPNI again in two years time.

So here’s an interesting question: How much less valuable of a customer am I now that I don’t let them share information about me? Will this influence any special deals or savings Verizon would have potentially given us for being “loyal” customers?

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