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Verizon Customers Still Struggling With Phantom $1.99 Fee
You know, the one Verizon says doesn't exist...
by Karl Bode 12:21PM Monday Jan 11 2010
Last summer, the Cleveland Plain Dealer noticed that Verizon was charging wireless customers a bizarre $1.99 fee for "data," even when customers phones were off, had dead batteries, had data services blocked, or the phone didn't even have data capabilities. Verizon promised to fix the problem, and the article was largely ignored. In November, the New York Times again covered the phantom fee, this time citing an anonymous Verizon insider who claimed Verizon was fully aware of the glitch, but was intentionally doing nothing about it -- given it generated millions in annual additional revenue.

Click for full size
The Times article got the FCC's attention, and the agency sent Verizon a letter, asking them what was going on. Verizon's response? They denied the problems were happening. When asked specifically how they could deny the problem when thousands of customers and several papers were busy experiencing it first hand, an employee acknowledged it, and the company has even given refunds for it -- Verizon wouldn't really comment.

While at least one FCC Commissioner called Verizon's non-response "troubling," nothing's really happened since.

Coming back full circle, Teresa Dixon Murray of the Cleveland Plain Dealer (whose original good work on the fee was completely ignored) is back again with an article about the fee. Guess what? Murray's still experiencing the fee first hand. After "meeting with several top executives," having data access on the phone blocked, and six months of complaints, she's still fighting the fee:
quote:
Verizon said it accidentally eliminated the mobile Web blocks I had when it activated the new phone. Puh-leez. So Verizon re-blocked my phone lines. Yet, the company says it recorded online access on Nov. 8, Nov. 14 and Nov. 21. Chris, a supervisor from Pittsburgh, is dumbfounded. He confirmed my phones are blocked. He doesn't know how this is happening. He's supposed to get back to me.
Verizon's problem with accurate billing (on both the landline and wireless sides) are legendary, and hardly ever are they in their customers' favor. As Murray notes, you can fill out this FCC form and e-mail the FCC to let them know Verizon's non-existent fee is still consuming your very real money.

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Hazy Arc

join:2006-04-10
Greenwood, SC

1 recommendation

Huh?

It seems there is a different flavor of this same article every week.
NeoandGeo

join:2003-05-10
Harrison, TN

Re: Huh?

Apparently it needs more exposure. After 4 months of not getting the fee, it cropped up again on my newest bill. :|

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39
It seems there is a different flavor of this same article every week.
Verizon keeps charging people $2 for doing nothing.

hayabusa3303
Over 200 mph
Premium
join:2005-06-29
kudos:1

Re: Huh?

they just will change it to a admin fee on the bill and keep charging for it.

But by the sounds vz could careless about it.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: Huh?

Regulatory recovery fee ?

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000

class action suit time

It really is class action lawsuit time. And who can blame Verizon? They don't want to give up 1.99/customer per month of pure profit no matter how many people complain. It will take legal action to force their hand. Greed is just too powerful.

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: class action suit time

said by morbo:

It really is class action lawsuit time.
A class action suit won't do squat.

Even if one was brought, the typical result will be the lawyers getting a huge winning, and Verizon giving coupons to the class for a discount on their next Verizon purchase, or something silly like a 3 cent credit on their next bill.
--
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.
NeoandGeo

join:2003-05-10
Harrison, TN

Re: class action suit time

But it would stop the practice more than likely. I don't care about getting money, I've been able to get a refund easier and easier each month after the first time I had to argue for almost an hour to get it taken off.

Bill Neilson
Premium
join:2009-07-08
Arlington, VA
said by pnh102:

said by morbo:

It really is class action lawsuit time.
A class action suit won't do squat.

Even if one was brought, the typical result will be the lawyers getting a huge winning, and Verizon giving coupons to the class for a discount on their next Verizon purchase, or something silly like a 3 cent credit on their next bill.
Agreed that the lawyers would win but hopefully it would bring more attention to the problem and thus force VZ to act to fix this

Matt3
All noise, no signal.
Premium
join:2003-07-20
Jamestown, NC
kudos:12
said by pnh102:

said by morbo:

It really is class action lawsuit time.
A class action suit won't do squat.

Even if one was brought, the typical result will be the lawyers getting a huge winning, and Verizon giving coupons to the class for a discount on their next Verizon purchase, or something silly like a 3 cent credit on their next bill.
I agree, Verizon customers would be left to foot the bill to make a couple of lawyers rich. This is the job of the FCC. The problem is, aside from a strongly worded letter, they don't seem to want to do their job. Unless "must have ability to write strongly worded, official sounding letters and then wash your hands of the matter" is in their job description?
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pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: class action suit time

said by Matt3:

This is the job of the FCC. The problem is, aside from a strongly worded letter, they don't seem to want to do their job.
I would imagine there must be some law being broken here. We have so many laws that there has to be one that covers this. But you're right, a law is only meaningful if it is enforced.

I still take the position that any fees that are not the result of a government tax must be included in the advertised price of service, just like with any other purchase people make.
--
"Net Neutrality" zealots - the people you can thank for your capped Internet service.
paulme

join:2007-11-06
Kirkland, WA

Re: class action suit time

The FCC would need to enforce that... oh wait...
Dodge
Premium
join:2002-11-27
So lawyers will get a lot of money and customers will get stuck with another "recoup" fee, which means that instead of some people getting charged 1.99, everyone will get charged.

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: class action suit time

said by Dodge:

So lawyers will get a lot of money and customers will get stuck with another "recoup" fee, which means that instead of some people getting charged 1.99, everyone will get charged.
Let's see. Verizon isn't going to give up charging 1.99 to people without some kind of fight. Asking them nicely hasn't worked, and it's ethically and legally questionable on how and why they are doing this. What options are left? Say pretty please?

No one likes lawyers, but they serve a vital purpose. In this case, keeping the big guy honest. It will cost Verizon millions and they will have to --gasp-- be up front with customers about charges. Sure they may raise their rates, but they cannot sneak mystery charges onto bills with impunity.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: class action suit time

I agree.. it won't be nice, and rates (surchages ?) will probably go up to cover for it, but they have to clear this up.

burgerwars

join:2004-09-11
Northridge, CA
said by Dodge:

So lawyers will get a lot of money and customers will get stuck with another "recoup" fee, which means that instead of some people getting charged 1.99, everyone will get charged.
Yep. Once all is said and done, they'll just add a "Legal Compliance Fee." Customers lose no matter what.
elray

join:2000-12-16
Santa Monica, CA
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·EarthLink

1 recommendation

said by morbo:

It really is class action lawsuit time. And who can blame Verizon? They don't want to give up 1.99/customer per month of pure profit no matter how many people complain. It will take legal action to force their hand. Greed is just too powerful.
While even I have my suspicions about Verizon's motivation sometimes, the $1.99 charge is clearly just incompetency manifested in their billing system, and is not considered a major problem by the corporation.
Eventually, it will be fixed, and reversing entries applied.
Consumers may be annoyed by it when they actually read their bill, but that's a small minority of the base, and the word is "annoyed", not "outraged".

Don't be so harsh on greed, either. Without it, you wouldn't have a paycheck.

morbo
Complete Your Transaction

join:2002-01-22
00000
Reviews:
·Charter

Re: class action suit time

said by elray:

Eventually, it will be fixed, and reversing entries applied.

Care to formalize this as a bet? $50 says this will never happen on its own. Meaning VZ is content to collect the $2/mo per customer knowing their billing system is broken; VZ will never automatically and willingly give those charges back to the countless customers that have complained and those that have not complained.

I disagree that it's a minority of the base and that the word is "annoyed" and not "outraged". The fact is that Verizon is stealing from customers each and every month.

en102
Canadian, eh?

join:2001-01-26
Valencia, CA

Re: class action suit time

Also, how much effort (cost) will it take on VZW's part to investigate each case ? If this wasn't being pressed, at best, you would get a refund only on those that called in and complained, while there may be millions of customers being wrongfully billed.

tlylework

@sbcglobal.net
??? Not sure the argument here, or even that it is a botched billing system if you know something is screwed up and do nothing to fix it.

No their not greedy.. Right. Not sure why folks would want to stick with a company that is out to screw them, oh wait if we used that as a measuring stick no one would have a cell phone.

I think captialism works if we could get rid of the greedy bastards.

nona

@frontiernet.net

Re: class action suit time

but capitalism is based on greedy basterds.

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5
said by elray:

said by morbo:

It really is class action lawsuit time. And who can blame Verizon? They don't want to give up 1.99/customer per month of pure profit no matter how many people complain. It will take legal action to force their hand. Greed is just too powerful.
While even I have my suspicions about Verizon's motivation sometimes, the $1.99 charge is clearly just incompetency manifested in their billing system
I suspect that they just don't have a handle on how these charges are appearing and can't find the programmers who actually coded a lot of their billing code. It was probably done in India and they may not even have the source code on hand themselves. Now that is horrible IT project mgt technique, but I have seen things like this before where all the coding was outsourced.
--
My BLOG .. .. Internet News .. .. My Web Page


dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4
said by morbo:

It really is class action lawsuit time. And who can blame Verizon? They don't want to give up 1.99/customer per month of pure profit no matter how many people complain. It will take legal action to force their hand. Greed is just too powerful.
And just where do you think settlement funds come from? a magic money tree? no, unfees on your bill!
--
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guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Capitalism in action

What exactly is Verizon's downside to this ... So some home based writers make a blog ... Some news papers print an article, so the FCC stomps it feet like a two year old ... a big wet fat WHATEVER, they still collect the many millions, possibly hundreds of millions on the Fee's, so why exactly should they change?

They ( Verizon ) know exactly what they are doing, gaming the system, like every other single company out there, that's capitalism at its finest

spamd
Premium
join:2001-04-22
Cherry Valley, IL

Raise rates?

Why can't they just raise the rates of your normal bill. Instead of having this fee separated out in plain sight. To me it just seems that Verizon is stabbing us in the gut then twisting the knife and laughing all the way to the bank.
--
When everything is coming your way, you are in the wrong lane.

meh37II

@verizon.net

It's a shame, really...

that Alltel couldn't have bought out Verizon instead. (though it's just as likely that Verizon's "new math" would tend to infect any billing system using their "black box billing adjustment" modules)
expert007

join:2006-01-10
Buffalo, NY

If I were VZ Wireless....

At this point, I'd raise the fee to $20. Hell, no one seems to be doing anything real about it anyway.

bionicRod
Funkier than a mohair disco ball.
Premium
join:2009-07-06
united state
kudos:2

No VZW for me...

I thought long and hard about getting a droid when my current AT&T contract is up, but this has soured me on the whole company. You can't tell me they have no way of fixing this; they're just holding on until forced. Makes me sick.

haditnomo

@verizon.net

verizon is run by thieves

They are not going to stop this till someone from DOJ goes to verizon with a warrant for the arrest of one of these ceo's bottom line then you will see a complete stop to the theft because now it's theft before it was a error but now it's confirmed theft.
ciucca

join:2004-05-24
Westfield, NJ

Re: verizon is run by thieves

You are 100% correct!

They still have the old mentality of nickel and dime ing their customers to death. The only way it will stop is if their business practices start costing them money. We all know how likely that is to happen. You can forget the government, they will do nothing.
brianiscool

join:2000-08-16
Tampa, FL
kudos:1

1 recommendation

Why?

Why go through so much drama? They should just increase their prices if they need more money.

beck
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-29
On The Road
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Stablehost.com

The thing is...

If they spend several more months collecting the fee before the class action lawsuit, they will have collected more than the lawyers will get. So it's a good deal for verizon.

FCC is a joke.
--
Some people are like slinkies - not really good for much.
But they bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.
Bob61571

join:2008-08-08
Washington, IL

Why doesn't Verizon ask

the Verizon billing systems computer analysts how
this charge is triggered on customers' bills?

ciucca

join:2004-05-24
Westfield, NJ

I worked for Bell Atlantic and Verizon

in previous jobs and I can tell you that they are the biggest money grubbing company in existence. They are like an unscrupulous car dealer who negotiates a price and then lists extra BS fees when the contract is signed.


CableDude50

@74.198.8.x

Re: I worked for Bell Atlantic and Verizon

They will lose in a Class Action Lawsuit and be forced to pay back every penny retroactively plus have a fine imposed, then they will just raise the rates to cover all the costs. The consumer just can't win.

Ebolla

join:2005-09-28
Dracut, MA

Re: I worked for Bell Atlantic and Verizon

correction, they will lose a class action lawsuit and be forced to pay the lawyers all the money they took from customers, The lawyers will pat themselves on the back for a paycheck well done and customers will get a credit of $1.99. This credit will be applied right before the $2.49 charge for "judicial Recovery Fee's".
Fisamo
Premium
join:2004-02-20
Apex, NC
Reviews:
·Earthlink Cable ..
·VOIPO

Perhaps they just want $10+/mo protection money

Sign up for one of their mobile web 'packages' (you know, 25MB for $10/mo or 75MB for $20/mo), and the $1.99 mystery fees will go away.

My 'protection' clause is not available to anyone not grandfathered in--it's the America's Choice plan. Mobile web costs $5/mo (just to access) plus airtime. Since I don't pay the $5/mo, no mysterious $1.99 fee on my account.

Of course, there will come a time that I'll want a new phone, and the new phone will require the new plans... When that happens, I may well be looking at other providers.

Oh, btw--to those who say they escape this hassle by having an iPhone on AT&T, or don't want these hassles and wouldn't buy a Droid because of them... Any comparable phone (to Droid or iPhone) used on VZW network will require a data plan, so the $1.99 fee would not affect those customers. (Granted, from the tone of his post above, it appears that bionicRod See Profile is reacting to the principle of VZW's not fixing the problem, not worry over being hit with the $1.99 fee himself.)
Network Guy
Premium
join:2000-08-25
New York
kudos:2

Why does anyone use Verizon Wireless

... is beyond my grasp of understanding.

It's the network my ass...

anon izmuth

@charter.com

phantom fee

perhaps the fee is legitimate for the data usage, but its not the customer who is intentionally using it. Government sources have been forced to admit using phones remotely for covert reasons
»news.cnet.com/FBI-taps-cell-phon···191.html

If Verizon and the FCC keep avoiding comment it may be because the were told not to say anything. With the expanded capabilities and processing power of new generation phones can we be fully aware of what processes are running and what data the phone is sending and receiving without our knowledge?

FFH
Premium
join:2002-03-03
Tavistock NJ
kudos:5

Re: phantom fee

said by anon izmuth :

perhaps the fee is legitimate for the data usage, but its not the customer who is intentionally using it. Government sources have been forced to admit using phones remotely for covert reasons
»news.cnet.com/FBI-taps-cell-phon···191.html

If Verizon and the FCC keep avoiding comment it may be because the were told not to say anything. With the expanded capabilities and processing power of new generation phones can we be fully aware of what processes are running and what data the phone is sending and receiving without our knowledge?
I'm not sure about covert gov't action. Very unlikely. But I wouldn't disagree with the contention that criminal organizations have a way of cloning a phone so they don't get billed or traced.
--
My BLOG .. .. Internet News .. .. My Web Page

k1ll3rdr4g0n

join:2005-03-19
Homer Glen, IL

Verizon doesn't know how to do damage control

Think about it. Verizon could easily make this all blow over and sweep it under the rug by just saying "We are aware of the problem and investigating."
This simple statement they imply there is a problem, and they are looking into it - though the important part is that they didn't promise to do anything about it...just that they would look into it. Which is what everyone wants. You make people happy and give the false impression you care about your customers and they tend to look the other way. Which it is very obvious, Verizon does NOT.
At the very least, this simple statement can hold off the FCC dogs while they "restructure" the fee. This way after everything blows over, it was just a big misunderstanding, no hurt feelings and the fee mysteriously goes away...though reincarnated in some other form.

Now it's too late to do anything, Verizon denied the fee and now all they are doing is just digging their own grave and the FCC behind them to push them in.

If 2 people were complaining that's one thing, but with all this evidence that contradicts what Verizon is saying, you are just committing corporate suicide if you say "uhh..there is no problem move along". If I was a stock/share holder, I would not be too happy right now.
retired17
Premium
join:2007-01-24
Anaheim, CA

1 edit

time for a class action lawsuit

I would think this situation is perfect for a class action lawsuit. Where are all the lawyers?
Sorry I didn't see the previous post.

i1me2ao
Premium
join:2001-03-03
TEXAS

take a

shower/eat/poop call verizon once a month to get it removed is the way my life goes. i tried to block but my phone blocks text and pics too. so i shower/eat/poop call verizon once a month..
--
calling a illegal alien undocumented is like calling a drug dealer a undocumented pharmacist

FastiBook

join:2003-01-08
Newtown, PA

The phantom...

The phantom fee booth?

- A
--
LETS GO METS!