Watch CBS News

Who's That Knockin' On the Door? The Verizon FiOS Salesperson!

And you thought door-to-door salesman were passé -- but they're not to Verizon, which actually had a salesman going through my neighborhood earlier this week encouraging me and my neighbors to sign up for Verizon FiOS, the telco's fiber-optic answer to cable's heavy marketing of so-called "triple plays" that marry cable, phone and Internet for a low price.

I missed chatting with him face-to-face -- the next-door neighbors did not -- but he left a doorknob ad on our front door, touting "The FiOS Worry Free Guarantee" and that you can get all three services for only $89.99/month plus taxes and fees. You have to give him props for timing -- his visit came less than a week after the FiOS license in my tiny burg of Pelham was meant to be approved by the Public Service Commission, with service expected to come to some parts of the village by early October.

Still, it seems like a strange allocation of resources. In our area -- just outside New York City -- the company's ads practically blanket the airwaves. The other part of the blanket, I suppose, are ads from rival Cablevision. We don't need to be educated about FiOS. And while it's true that FiOS is new in the Village, why have a guy knocking on doors in a place with a total population of only 6,500 people? From a return on investment perspective, isn't that a little ... desperate?

If you know the details, it looks even stranger. The reason it took so long for FiOS to come to Pelham is that Verizon steadfastly refused, for three years, to hammer out a contract similar to that of our neighbor, Pelham Manor, an even smaller village (pop. 5,500), which together with us, make up one town that shares key services, like schools.

Their deal? A one-time payment of $50,000 for a 15-year contract, signed in 2007. Our deal? A one-time payment of $18,000 for a 10-year contract and five percent of Verizon's revenues in Pelham. (I'm verifying that Pelham Manor also has the five percent provision, but even if it doesn't, it would still take years for Pelham to make up the $32,000 difference.) Ultimately the village decided, grudgingly, to go forward in the name of competition for residents.

The outcome of Pelham's dealings with Verizon are no secret; everyone reads The Pelham Weekly. So, when you boil it all down, Verizon made the following decision: in a village known, even in a high property tax county, for its lofty property taxes, it paid Pelham $32,000 less than its sister village; no doubt citizens would have liked that revenue. However, it is spending money on having someone go door-to-door to tell residents why they should go with Verizon. Of course, the back story is probably that Verizon's infrastructure executives don't talk to the sales executives, and that's the larger issue. Companies have to realize that to potential customers, intra-corporate disconnects don't matter. It's all about perception, and Verizon, in my neighborhood, isn't creating a very good one.


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.