A note for John Harrobin

To: John Harrobin
VP MarketingVerizon Wireless
Verizon Communications Inc.
140 West Street
New York,
     NY 10007

Happy new year, John.

We’ve never met, and getting through to an individual at Verizon is (ironically for a communications company) pretty difficult, so I’m going to post my short note to you here, in the hopes that one or more of my readers can get it to you.

According to today’s Times, you’re leading efforts at Verizon to get banner ads and other advertisements on cell phone screens. The reason? Because advertisers want to buy those ads.

This is not a good reason. In fact, it’s a bad one.

A typical cell phone user spends more than $2,000 a year on telecommunications, and the number is going up. For a product with a marginal cost of zero, this is an astoundingly high figure. Why would you risk your market share and what little customer satisfaction remains by selling off screen space to advertisers?

Sure, some folks with more time than judgment will click on these ads, and sure, your advertisers will smile, but do you really want to alienate millions of users by giving us something we don’t need and don’t want?

Here are the two questions I hope you’ll ask yourself:
a. what does the money we make from this effort do to the long-term profitability of our relationship with customers and
b. is this something consumers want? How many calls a day does Verizon get asking for more spam/advertising on their cell phones?

The relentless march of capitalism probably means that this is yet another medium about to go down the tubes in the name of short term profit. I hope not.

How many people need to complain before you draw the line? Tell us where to send a note, and we’ll send one!