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Consumer Alert

Organized effort needed to persuade company to drop ad

Q. Verizon FiOS TV has taken to putting a bright red advertising banner at the bottom of its TV guide channel, which decreases the viewing size of the guide by 17 percent and makes the screen so busy that it hurts your eyes. I already opt out of advertising on my set-top box. I have spent at least 12 hours calling tech support and their managers, the retention department, etc. The response is always the same. They say there is “nothing that can be done.” One support manager told me he had received a ton of complaints and engineers were working on a software patch to enable us to opt out of this advertisement. It never happened. My neighbors and I are so frustrated.

JULIE KALUSTIAN, ARLINGTON

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A. You and your neighbors are not the only ones to be put off by the advertisements that appear below the channel guide. But it doesn’t appear the movement has quite reached the groundswell necessary to make change.

Verizon spokesman Phil Santoro made that plain. “Those are not going away,” he said. And, he noted, those ads are not unique to Verizon’s FiOS TV. You will also find them on cable TV services.

In addition, Santoro said, he’s not clear about advertising that you opted out of since that’s not something customers can do. “Late last year,” he said, “we sent our customers an update to our privacy policy which included an opportunity to opt out of any targeted advertising we may do in the future.”

Advertising remains part of the financial equation for companies that deliver TV channels to your home. As annoying as you — and many others who have complained on message boards in recent months — have found that ad location, it’s clearly going to take a significantly larger and more organized effort to demonstrate to the company that customers are upset enough to merit making a change.

Mitch Lipka has been helping consumers out of jams for the past two decades. He lives in Worcester and also writes the Consumer Alert blog on Boston.com. Mitch can be reached at ConsumerNews@aol.com. Follow him on Twitter @mitchlipka.
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