Direct Line Blog

The latest iPhone has arrived, and Verizon Wireless won't shut up about it

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Sometimes that which seems your friend can suddenly and without warning turn into your bête noire.

Take Verizon Wireless' aggressive promotion of Apple's new iPhone 4S via TV spots, in-store signage, transit ads, social media and email blasts. Desperately wanting to upgrade to the latest iPhone, you can imagine my giddiness at being invited via email to trade my increasingly service-issues-plagued, clunky old BlackBerry to Apple's cooler, app-friendlier phone.

After placing my order via a link to the Verizon Wireless website, I was sent an email confirmation that my gadget would be arriving in just days. I got another email notifying me when it had shipped. By the next day, there I was, syncing my contacts and photos, playing games, and downloading Facebook, The New York Times and The New Yorker magazine's Goings On app.

So far, so good.

Then, Verizon Wireless went and transformed from a sort of kindly, early Santa bearing gifts to a sadistic, just-in-time-for-Halloween stalker.

For almost daily over the last week, the cell service provider has crammed my inbox with any and all sorts of email messages – from the friendly, customer-service variety (“Thanks for upgrading your phone”) to the ostensibly helpful (“Tips and Tricks: Take a tour of the iPhone 4S”) to the downright tacky (“Show off your phone”). I will at least give them credit for avoiding exclamation points.

The latest harassing email promoted what Verizon bills as a “free sharing tool,” enabling me to spread the word about my new iPhone to my friends, family and colleagues via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or email. If my buddy opts to switch from another carrier to Verizon, both he and I get a $25 debit card.

Not a bad deal, actually. (Who doesn't want a new iPhone, or 25 bucks?) Too bad Verizon had already poisoned the well that is my Gmail inbox, causing me to nearly kill out the offer as I had grown frustratingly accustomed to the nonstop barrage and had begun to simply hit “delete” whenever I saw yet another message from Verizon. It was merely by happenstance that this particular email didn't get ignored.

Now, because of its in-your-face promotional tactics around the iPhone, Verizon Wireless has caused this loyal (if annoyed) customer to do that which every brand dreads: hit the “unsubscribe” button. All because it didn't know when to crow, and when to just let it go.

Take this as a cautionary tale, email marketers.

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