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Stolen/Lost Wireless Device? Verizon Wireless Charges California Customer Fees to Suspend/Transfer Service

Phillip Dampier October 10, 2013 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Verizon, Video, Wireless Broadband No Comments

They are coming.

If your smartphone goes missing or gets stolen, should you still have to pay Verizon Wireless for service you no longer have?

Verizon Wireless apparently thinks you do, even if you are beyond your two-year contract and pay month-to-month.

KGO-TV’s consumer reporter discovered Verizon Wireless dings customers coming and going.

Bonnie Mich, a Verizon Wireless customer in Healdsburg, was stunned when Verizon insisted she had to keep paying service charges on a cell phone she no longer owned.

“I said, ‘I don’t have a phone. I’m not under contract. I have no service from you. That is ridiculous,'” Mich told 7 On Your Side reporter Michael Finney. “I was angry. I didn’t think it made sense.”

Although Verizon did agree to suspend the calling plan portion of her bill for the missing phone, it wouldn’t agree to do it for free:

surchargeA charge of $15.35 was applied six days after her phone was stolen. The explanation? Verizon charges a fee when a customer service representative temporarily suspends service on a lost or stolen phone.

The following month, Mich decided to take her business to another wireless company, but Verizon Wireless was ready for that possibility. Verizon Wireless placed a block on number transfers, meaning Fich wasn’t going anywhere until Verizon was paid an extra $17.51 in service charges to remove the phone number transfer block.

Mark Toney, executive director of the Utility Reform Network told KGO Verizon had no justification for charging those fees and called the situation “a total rip off.” Toney advised customers to complain directly to state regulators and demand Verizon Wireless credit the charges and/or refund the customer.

When KGO called Verizon, an apology came quickly:

“We did not meet our own standards and reiterate our apology to our customer,” Verizon said in an e-mail message to the television station, promising a refund.

Mich reports she is still waiting.

KGO in San Francisco reports a stolen or lost Verizon Wireless cell phone can be cost you more than you think. (3 minutes)

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