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Verizon seeks to enforce automatic renewal
March 9, 2021
Verizon seeks to enforce automatic renewal
          As a seasoned subscriber to your email list and longtime contract client, I thought you might opine on the following dilemma we now face.
          Our issue is with Verizon Internet/phone/TV service and their auto contract renewal. They state we are locked into a 2 year contract and subject to a $4k+ early termination fee. You have frequently stated that in NY State there is an evergreen clause, in that contracts are not allowed to be renewed automatically - in essence they stay whole and in effect on a month to month basis after the contract term expires.
          Our contract expired with Verizon last October and now we want to switch services. They tell us that our contract auto renewed on our October anniversary date. They tell me that it was indicated on our October bill that their contract would auto renew for another 2 years unless we spoke up and said “no thank you”. To be clear I read the October bill again where it stated this auto renewal, and even in hindsight knowing what to look for I still do not see that we were auto renewed for another two year term / very confusing – and outright deceptive. 
          How can they get away with this? Is this legal? I spoke to a Verizon manager who absolutely told me without compassion that it was our fault that we did not see the fine print - and that there is nothing they can do - nothing. Apparently we are stuck for another year and a half in this contract which “ guarantees us good rates”. This is a farce in that the rates are double (literally) from an alternative Verizon service that we want to switch too. They will let us switch to the alternative Verizon program only if we pay them over $4,000 in early termination fees, and then of course get stuck in another 2 year contract. For perspective, we are a small company with a home office, with two phone numbers, and Internet and TV. Our monthly bill is now $440 and is going up slightly each month.
          How can they get away with this while we alarm dealers have to work hard constantly getting customers to renew and sign your contracts? Why cant we have such an auto renewal provision if this monopolistic power house can? Surely they have been legally challenged by others greater than ourselves, and allowed to continue these deceptive practices.
          You can check your state’s automatic renewal statute here:
          Here is New York’s law:
§ 5-903. Automatic renewal provision of contract for service, maintenance or repair unenforceable by contractor unless notice thereof given to recipient of services

1. As used in this section, "person" means an individual, firm, company, partnership or corporation.

2. No provision of a contract for service, maintenance or repair to or for any real or personal property which states that the term of the contract shall be deemed renewed for a specified additional period unless the person receiving the service, maintenance or repair gives notice to the person furnishing such contract service, maintenance or repair of his intention to terminate the contract at the expiration of such term, shall be enforceable against the person receiving the service, maintenance or repair, unless the person furnishing the service, maintenance or repair, at least fifteen days and not more than thirty days previous to the time specified for serving such notice upon him, shall give to the person receiving the service, maintenance or repair written notice, served personally or by certified mail, calling the attention of that person to the existence of such provision in the contract.

3. Nothing herein contained shall be construed to apply to a contract in which the automatic renewal period specified is one month or less.
          I see no exception for Verizon.  The law is applicable to commercial as well as residential customers.  The law applies to “service”.  Is cellular telephone service a “service”?  Is Verizon governed by “tariffs” which preempt state law?  I don’t think so, though I haven’t researched it.  I think Verizon is subject to the above statute and it’s failure to comply with the automatic renewal provision renders the automatic renewal unenforceable.  Not only that.  If Verizon consistently and persistently conducts business in this manner it may very well be violating deceptive business practices; something the NY Attorney General should look into. 
          If Verizon wishes to correct me, please feel free to write in.
          Finally, alarm companies would be wise to make sure they comply with automatic renewal statutes or risk the scrutiny of consumer protection agencies and state attorney general offices.  When you get the All in One agreements from K&K the automatic renewal provision will comply with your state law; make sure you don’t change the contract form or fail to adhere to your state requirements.

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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301