Verizon's New Rewards Program Has A Catch: It Gets To Track You First

Racking up points earns you gift cards.

Verizon is launching a new rewards program for customers that's being billed as the first of its kind among the big carriers.

Under the terms of "Smart Rewards," Verizon's 100 million customers will be able to rack up points for things like gift cards and discounts. But as the Associated Press reports:

Smart Rewards is designed as a loyalty program, but the company is also using that to encourage enrollment in Verizon Selects. That program, launched in 2012, uses subscriber surfing and location data to better target ads they see on the phone.

Enrollment in Selects is mandatory for subscribers who want to start taking advantage of Smart Rewards, but they can then leave Selects and keep using Smart Rewards. Those who stay with Selects get additional Smart Rewards points every month.

Smart Rewards is designed like your run-of-the-mill rewards program to keep you using Verizon's services. Basically, it gamifies super-fun stuff like paying your phone bill and upgrading your phone plan to include more data, rewarding you with points to spend on gift cards to places like Staples or TGI Fridays. Verizon Selects, which is a separate ad platform, keeps tabs on your location and behavior. But as the AP reports, you have to opt into it in order to take advantage of Smart Rewards.

Verizon says that the rewards program, which has already been available in some states, has actually helped with consumer retention, although the company declined to give specifics. So if you're comfortable with having your location beamed to Verizon in the name of an extra helping of deep-fried mozzarella sticks, by all means, feel free to learn more about it over here.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect Verizon's customer count: It's 100 million, not 100,000. And Verizon's Smart Rewards program does not require location data; Verizon Selects, which you have to use to enroll in Smart Rewards, does.

[h/t: AP]

[Image: Flickr user Randen Pederson]

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  • linda.biskup

    Just tried to book hotel and got a whole &17.00 off the regular price... WHOOOHOOO, big deal . Does Verizon think were really that stupid. I can get a better price anyday anywhere. Good thing I have 71,000 , cause there's nothing I can do with them. Why can't I use all my points to cover a hotel room? This rewards program is for idiots

  • cmclouse

    Verizon Smart Rewards is a SCAM!! I just looked into Verizon Smart Rewards on my account and was sorely disappointed to see that all merchandise is marked up (compared to Amazon) by 30%-50% and that Verizon only lets you use points to cover 25%-33% of the cost of the merchandise. And you're still on the hook for shipping. So you'll actually pay more out-of-pocket when buying on the Verizon Smart Rewards compared to Amazon. In short, it's a scam.

  • bitmanben

    Since the points expire after one year, a normal customer will find it difficult to ever get any rewards. A normal customer, billing $69 per month, will have a total billed per year amount of $828, which is too low for even a $10 discount for 1000 points. You would need to watch a lot of movies on demand to receive any rewards at all.

  • jeffrey.bunge

    It's worth noting that you cannot make full purchases with your points. You can only get discounts on merchandise or gift cards (i.e. use 1,000 point and only pay $90 for a gift card rather than $100). There are auctions with which you can purchase strictly with points, but prices tend to be very inflated (1 point = $.001 - $.003). Of course you cannot access this information until you've already signed your privacy away to Verizon. The fine print states only that points are valued at $.01 each. Seems a bit less than honest...