Do you have your residential telephone service through Comcast? Try an experiment: Look yourself up in the most recent phone book or ask for yourself when you dial 411 Directory Assistance. You'll learn you have disappeared. You are no longer findable by anyone using those tried and true sources. In the future you may not be findable through the online White Pages anymore if that information is collected from phone service providers.
Why? Comcast unilaterally decided to stop providing phone information to publishers and to Directory Assistance for all its customers, even those of us who believe we have a publicly listed landline.
According to a story in the Nashua N.H. Telegraph last April, there were more than 240,000 numbers removed from directories across three New England states.
Comcast told me that the phonebook publishers won't pay the fees Comcast demands for what is essentially our information, even though we pay a very high price for phone service.
It gets worse: Comcast has managed to lobby the FCC so it is not a regulated utility like the traditional phone and power companies. That means our state Public Service Board has no direct authority over them. The company can set its own rules and policies without any oversight or consumer protections.
What can you do if this is unacceptable to you? You can complain to the Vermont Public Service Board (psb.clerk@state .vt.us or 802-828-2332).
Although the PSB has no regulatory control over Comcast, it is collecting complaints about customer satisfaction to relay to the company. You can also call Senator Sanders office. He's been working hard to try to rein in Comcast and is interested in your thoughts and concerns (800-339-9834).
Let's get Comcast to reverse this policy.
Lora Block Bennington
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.