Home » Consumer News »Public Policy & Gov't »Verizon »Video » Currently Reading:

Verizon Agrees to Full Restitution in Phone Cramming Charges Lawsuit

Phillip Dampier March 6, 2012 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Verizon, Video 1 Comment

Verizon Communications has agreed to full restitution, as part of a class action settlement, for unauthorized third party charges on their customers’ phone bills.

Known in the industry as “cramming,” extra unauthorized fees pop up on phone bills for voicemail, dating lines, ringtones, or 800 numbers many customers have no idea they even had.  Almost all of the charges come from independent companies unaffiliated with Verizon.  But critics charge phone companies have been ignoring abusive cramming practices, in part because they share a percentage of money billed and collected from customers.

Deceptive cramming charges are often hard to spot on phone bills replete with cleverly-named-to-be-obscure surcharges, taxes and fees.  Many crammers deliberately keep descriptions about the services they are billing as vague as possible, sometimes appearing as “special services charge,” “voicemail access,” or even “monthly charge.”  Many ratepayers assume it is all just a part of the cost of having phone service.

A class action lawsuit against Verizon accused the company of doing little to stop unauthorized third party fees, and many customers afflicted by them report getting them off their bills is not as easy at it should be.

“When I had a mysterious $14.95 monthly fee for ‘voicemail,’ a service I knew I didn’t have, Verizon required me to fight with some Bermuda-based company to get the charges reversed, and they just kept repeating I must have authorized the service because it was on my bill,” reports Stop the Cap! reader Kevin Sessly. “They wear you down until you just pay the bill.”

Sessly eventually won refunds after contacting his state’s public utility regulator.

As part of the settlement, Verizon customers will be entitled to full refunds of all unauthorized third party charges from April 27, 2005 through Feb. 28, 2012.

“Some settlement class members may have a claim for hundreds or thousands of dollars in refunds under the settlement,” class counsel Bryan Kolton said.

Verizon has also agreed to adopt an “opt in” system where customers must first allow third party charges on their phone bills before a company can bill your account.  Currently, customers are subject to third party billing unless they specifically block it with their telephone company.

“It is difficult to overstate the credit that is due Verizon for its commitment to fixing the third-party billing system as it relates to Verizon customers,” said John Jacobs, one of the lead attorneys for the class. “By this settlement, Verizon has committed to extensive and unprecedented changes that we believe will go a long way toward eliminating cramming and will change the industry.”

Crammers have used a variety of tricks to bill phone customers for services they never ordered.  Completing sweepstakes or contest forms with a phone number is one common method, asking for a cell phone number as part of a “free ringtone offer” is another.  Many services also trick customers into signing up with free offers or discounts on other products or services.  Many customers forget to cancel before the trial ends, resulting in recurring charges.

Customers will be able to recover the full amount of the unauthorized charges, if they have copies of their past phone bills, or obtain a quick $40 flat-rate refund by submitting claims at www.verizonthirdpartybillingsettlement.com or calling toll-free 1-877-772-6219.  Both services should be up and running by March 9.

Non-Verizon customers can still take steps to protect themselves from unauthorized charges by calling their provider and requesting a block on all third-party charges.  This service is provided at no charge.

http://www.phillipdampier.com/video/ABC News Phone Cramming How to Get Money From Verizon Settlement 3-5-12.mp4

ABC News reports on the Verizon settlement and steps consumers can take to identify cramming and obtain refunds for unauthorized charges.  (2 minutes)

 

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Frances Fixler says:

    You had sent me a post card a few months ago saying that I could be part of this settlement. I lost this postcard. I would now like to be represented by you for overbilling by Verizon. I do not have last years phone bills.
    Please advise
    Thank you
    Frances Fixler
    340 East 61st Street
    New York, NY 10065
    212-832-0180

Search This Site:

Contributions:

Recent Comments:

  • bern jenkins: Good commentary . I loved the points - Does anyone know if I would be able to find a fillable a form form to fill in ?...
  • jennifer: Horrific customer service. But don't worry, I was assured I'd have a technician come fix my internet a week from today. :/...
  • Kyle: It has nothing to do with consumer choice on broadband. It has to do with unelected bureaucrats in the FCC, who are not accountable to congress (the p...
  • Bryan: I would never support anyone who directly or indirectly would want to limit consumer choices for internet. If a municipality can provide faster and c...
  • Kyle: The FCC is not a federal court. They should not be able to overturn state or local law. This has nothing to do with municipal broadband. It has to do ...
  • Johanna D.: Moved out of state for my job in March, was waiting for a final verizon bill, and received 3 bills from fronteir all dated the same day with different...
  • Clinton Kirk: It's not that Sen. Cruz is against the expansion of Broadband in growing communities. The issue is that it should be the States decision and not some...
  • Dahlia: If you do let me know, I will join. They try to say I used 865GB in one month and charged me an extra 20$ for overages. That is BS, there is no way in...
  • Sherice Cuadra: Timely article ! I learned a lot from the facts - Does anyone know if my business might be able to grab a blank a form copy to work with ?...
  • Ethan: A few months ago, TWC gave me a quote for $23,268 for 12 (!) pole permits and about 1600 feet of cable, even though there's a line only 5 poles and 80...
  • Mark: My ailing 85-yo mother, who lives in Yucaipa, CA, has been completely without phone service for almost A WHOLE MONTH now!!! She cannot call her doctor...
  • Raymundo: Us simple folk in FL can only dream of being as smart as you, Joe. Thank you for taking the time to explain things to us so we can understand them....

Your Account: