Turning the tables on Verizon…

March 23, 2009

For anyone who’s ever called Verizon (VZ) to complain about something like slow download speeds or oddly high bills (speaking from personal experience, naturally) and not exactly been greeted with a sympathetic ear, have we got an SEC filing for you! Last week, Verizon, filed this amended proxy which complained about this story in Crain’s New York Business. Here’s a snippet from the filing, which quotes a letter that Verizon’s chief PR person, Peter Thonis, sent to Crain’s:

Your article on executive compensation (March 9) takes a gratuitous swipe at Verizon’s policies. While rightly calling Verizon a company that has —better aligned its pay policies with the times, the article goes on to quote two pension funds that argue shareholders should not pay for unearned compensation — citing, inaccurately, our CEO’s death benefit.

The whole thing is just weird with a capital W. While there’s certainly no problem with Verizon responding to an article it views as unflattering with a letter to Crain’s, it seems more than a bit extreme to file an amended proxy statement with a copy of that letter. Doing so practically begs people who otherwise wouldn’t read Crain’s — say shareholders outside the state — to wonder what has Verizon officials so bent out of shape. Keep in mind that the reference to Verizon was halfway through the article. In the interest of full disclosure, I used to work for Crain’s New York.

If companies start using their SEC filings to turn into press critics, we’re all in for a lot of trouble.

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