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Investigating the Zombie Phone Line Ecosystem

I've taken on a whole new interest today, as you can see, in the subterranean 'zombie phone line' ecosystem. So I was fascinated to get this email from TPM Reader JK ...

I work for a small CLEC in [state redacted] and we deal with this type of thing commonly. When you port a number from one carrier to another, it is automatically cancelled from the losing carrier. However, if there are any lines on an account that are not ported, then unless the customer explicitly cancels the lines with the old carrier, they will continue to a) be available and in service even if they are unused, and b) fully billable.

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Verizon and the Mystery of the Zombie Phone Lines

I mentioned earlier that we had this bizarre and Kafka-esque billing issue that came up with Verizon today. And lest you think this is just your run of the mill billing dispute - we're not a Verizon customer. Which puts their claim that we suddenly owe them money in kind of a funny light. Here's the post I did earlier. But I'm back on this because I think we've gotten down to what the actual story is and it's so bizarre I wanted to share it with you.

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Good Times in Small Business

We hear a lot about how small businesses have to navigate all sorts of cumbersome government regulations to stay afloat. And I can attest to numerous cases where we have to deal with regulations that I fully support but could be much more efficiently managed with zero impact on the social good they're meant to secure. I'm lookin' at you New York State! But a far bigger nuisance is dealing with major corporations that appear to decided that one of their major revenue sources should be a level of institutional stupidity that maintains a steady amount of revenue simply because no ordinary person can navigate what appears to be an intentional level of incompetence. To be specific what I'm talking about: a level of bureaucratic inefficiency combined with incompetent customer service that forces people to pay for services they didn't purchase because the cost of paying ends up being a smaller hassle than navigating the Kafkaesque labyrinth of the company's phone tree. This line item on the corporate P&L I call the 'Delta of Derp'. And here's an example today from one of my favorite companies: Verizon.

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