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There’s a Trap for That: Verizon Wireless’ Ongoing Incredible Mystery $1.99 Data Charge Adventure Continues to Annoy

Phillip Dampier January 9, 2010 Data Caps, Editorial & Site News, Public Policy & Gov't, Verizon 7 Comments

Stop the Cap! reader John writes to let us know Teresa Dixon Murray from The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, who broke the story about Verizon’s mysterious $1.99 data usage charge is back again with an update.

In a column last summer, I chronicled my battle with Verizon after I discovered Verizon had been concocting $1.99 monthly charges for supposed Web use by my family plan numbers. Verizon’s ruse ended the month that my son’s phone was dead and locked away for weeks.

Verizon responded directly to me in a meeting with several top executives, and they promised to investigate the problems suffered by thousands of customers nationwide. The company in August also promised to change its policy of charging customers if they accidentally hit their phone’s “mobile Web” button. The new policy: To get charged, customers now supposedly have to type in a Web address.

Dixon Murray

But Murray considers Verizon’s response more clever than truthful.  And the charges just keep on coming.  So are the comments piling up below Murray’s article on The Plain Dealer website reporting more mysterious charges.

Verizon’s response to the Federal Communications Commission claimed Verizon doesn’t charge customers who accidentally hit the mobile web button on their phones, because Verizon exempts the home page those phones first reach.  Murray points out Verizon forgot to tell the Commission that’s the policy now, after the bad press, but wasn’t the policy earlier when thousands of others were being billed as well.

But no matter, because Murray suggests Verizon has found all-new ways to sock those $1.99 fees on unsuspecting consumers.

Take my case. I got a new phone the first week of November and within 24 hours after I activated it, Verizon said I had incurred a $1.99 data usage charge. Never mind that I hadn’t actually used the phone yet.

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.

While I’m waiting, I’m making a few notes, actually a lot of notes, to give to the FCC.

Amazing that these billing errors always seem to work out in Verizon’s favor.  Maybe the cat has been using the phone to browse when you weren’t looking.  Maybe Verizon can continue to reap the rewards of collecting $1.99 from subscribers who feel it’s not worth the time and effort to protest the charges with a customer service representative.

This is ripe for one of those class action lawsuits where the lawyers make the big money and you get a coupon for a free cell phone case with your next purchase at a Verizon store.  Before that happens, Murray suggests you file a complaint with the FCC yourself.  Also, please do take the time to make the call to Verizon Wireless and demand credit if you’ve been hit with this charge.  It will cost them more than $1.99 just to handle your call, and you’ll probably get something more tangible than the outcome of a class action lawsuit.  It never hurts to ask them for additional discounts or free features to keep you a satisfied customer.

File A Complaint With the Federal Communications Commission

  • E-mail [email protected]. It’s best to attach a form you can download and fill it out: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/Form2000B.pdf
  • Call 1-888-225-5322, weekdays, 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Write to: Federal Communications Commission, Consumer & Governmental Affairs, Consumer Complaints, 445 12th St., SW, Washington, D.C. 20554.
  • Fax a complaint form and supporting documentation to: 1-866-418-0232. Get the form at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/Form2000B.pdf
  • Go to the FCC’s web site: esupport.fcc.gov/complaints.htm. Click the button for Wireless Phone, then Billing/Service issues.
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    11 years ago

    Wireless is one of the biggest cons this country has ever seen

    11 years ago
    Reply to  jr

    I agree wholeheartedly. It is absurd the prices and limits consumers are put through in the US for mobile phones.

    11 years ago

    We had this $1.99 charge four consecutive months last summer. Went to Verizon and they would only refund three. This cell phone was only used for calls and texting, no internet surfing. I asked the rep. to tell me how much data was used on that line and she refused. So at that visit the data and text were blocked at my request. The customer service person “had never heard of this happening before” when told about this seemingly system wide phantom $1.99 charge appearing on monthly bills.

    11 years ago

    Don’t worry. Verizon will be mandating a $9.99 monthly charge for all “3G capable” cellphones. Problem solved.


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