Grassroots Revolt Against Verizon Agent Program Fizzles

A group calling itself the "We Will Not Sign" coalition distributed a mass e-mail on Nov. 29 to legacy MCI agents, asking them to contact the coalition if signing the VSPP contract could hurt their businesses. Many legacy MCI agents, who were brought into the Verizon fold via the merger of the two Baby Bells, have complained this year that the 2007 VSPP could put them in a position to make less money.

Agents invited by Verizon to participate in the 2007 VSPP faced a Dec. 15 deadline to sign the contract, and about 90 percent of the Verizon and former MCI agents invited signed the contract before the deadline expired, a Verizon spokesman said.

The coalition's effort to persuade former MCI agents not to sign the VSPP contract had scant impact on the composition of Verizon's desired channel for 2007, according to the Verizon spokesman. "It never ended up materializing in a way that impacted the program," he said.

Verizon hasn't responded to requests for the number of agents now in the 2007 VSPP and the percentage of those agents who are legacy MCI agents.

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The We Will Not Sign coalition ([email protected]) didn't respond to e-mails requesting more information about the group and its mission.

The coalition's e-mail campaign was distributed by IAgentNetwork, a San Diego-based telecommunications marketing firm. IAgentNetwork representative Shannon McCormack declined to provide information about the clients behind the coalition.

One legacy MCI agent unhappy with the terms of the 2007 VSPP contract said he tried to contact the coalition but received no response.

"I'm hearing about all these class-action suits MCI agents are taking up against Verizon," said the agent, who requested anonymity. "You hear it through the grapevine that people are trying to put a suit together against Verizon. But I don't think anybody is doing anything. I think everyone is going to have to just eat it."

The coalition's complaints about the 2007 VSPP contract were in line with multiple complaints from many legacy MCI partners. The 2007 VSPP "terminates and/or eliminates almost all your rights and security in your existing MCI Base, writes down your current residual commissions up to 80 percent upon renewal of contracts and restricts your ability to service and support your larger clients," the coalition's mass e-mail said.

The Verizon spokesman said the New York-based carrier recognized that the redesign of its VSPP for 2007 stirred a lot of passion, particularly among ex-MCI partners.

One former MCI agent who signed the contract said he had "a stronger sense of the commitment that [Verizon is] willing to support us."

Agents not invited to participate in the 2007 VSPP and those who were invited but didn't sign the contract are welcome to work as subagents for the VSPP agents, the Verizon spokesman said.