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Verizon News Flash

Verizon has Netflixed itself, reversing a previously announced decision to charge customers $2 to pay their bills online. We could also say Verizon BoFad itself. Netflix and Bank of America were two larger companies which attracted publicity, petition and outrage about new plans and then said, "Oh, sorry, my bad. We've changed our minds." 

The public - their customers - were the agents of change for them. The public has seen what speaks -- action -- and are now getting fast, aggressive, and organized about it. The response to Verizon was much faster than either BoA or Netflix. Online petitions. Facebook wall postings on the companies' social media page.  Verizon spun its course correction must faster than the other two, perhaps with good reason. Maybe they saw that Netflix, which had been battling with Amazon for the number one spot for 'happy customers' among online retailers, fell out of that battle, losing 7 percentage points and falling to 79, according to ForeSeen's most recent survey, released within the last week. Netflix's 7 percentage points was the largest decline posted. Amazon remained number one by climbing 2 points to reach 88. Amazon has thus lead the rankings for fourteen consecutive months.

Or maybe Verizon saw what happened to Netflix's stock price. Back in July, it was at $300 a share. Then they made their fateful decision and subsequent announcements, and prestor, the stock closed at around $69 on December 29th.

BoA is not really a player in its stock price per share. Back in 2008, BoA stock traded at $292, but in 2011, it's hung around in the 5-20 dollar range. Rumor has it that BoA is a bank, and investors don't trust BoA's statements about what assets it has, and what they're worth.

It could be, though, that Verizon saw that Netflix lost over 800,000 customers as they dug in and fought against reversing their changes, or maybe the Verizon CEO saw that the Netflix CEO took a 33% pay cut after what became a dismal year after being a stock market and online service retailer darling. 

Maybe it was just the 130,000 signatures change.org collected and presented to Verizon in a petition in just 24 hours. Who knows? Verizon said the reason for the change was that it was responding to customer feedback. It says a bit that it didn't expect such negative customer feedback in the first place. As Reed Hastings, Netflix's CEO, said in comments after announcing that Netflix was re-addressing its plans, he has slid into arrogance and his company had been overconfident and had moved too fast. 

Perhaps in those comments is the answer: arrogance.

It is interesting how powerful online petitions are becoming, not just in consumer matters like these, but also in matters like the Keystone XL pipeline construction. As more voters and customers are being ignored, they're turning to online petitions to cut out the middle man and speak up. Some are calling 2011 the year of the political recall in America, as recall elections in 17 states challenged the status of at least 150 elected officials. The number this year doubled the total number of recall elections in any previous decade. 

Time Magazine selected The Protestor as their 2011 Person of the Year, citing Occupy Wall Street and the Arab springs as some of their reasons. I think Time Magazine missed the mark by limiting their thinking to protestors. The protestors are representing the people, just as the petitions to Netflix, Verizon, and BoA represent the people, and the recall elections represent the people, and their thinking. What it seems like the people are saying is that they're angry, and they're not accepting the status quo any longer. They will not accept arrogance any longer.

And in America, as politicians posture for the next round of national elections, registered voters are leaving the Republican and Democratic parties in large numbers, Congress is facing record low disapproval ratings, the Federal government seems too paralyzed by politics to be effective, and no Republican nominee can muster and sustain the position of 'front-runner', the question is, what course will politicians take? Will they be a Netflix, BoA, or Verizon?

Or will they hold out longer and become an Egypt?