Verizon to Refund Millions in Erroneous Fees

Published by: Kelly Curtis on 4th Oct 2010 | View all blogs by Kelly Curtis
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Verizon to Refund Millions in Erroneous Fees

Verizon is reportedly refunding fees that they incorrectly charged to their mobile customers. The Federal Communications Commission has confirmed it is investigating the mistake, in which the company charged wireless customers false charges of $2 to $6, totaling as much as an astounding $50 million.

Verizon reports that a bug in their phone software caused at least 15 million customers to be charged mystery data fees, including some customers who didn't even subscribe to data plans. The fees, according to a statement released by the company, will be refunded on customers' October or November bills. The rebate is believed to be one of the largest ever paid out by a wireless carrier.

"The majority of the data sessions involved minor data exchanges caused by software built into their phones; others included accessing certain Web links, which should not have incurred charges," the statement from Verizon read. "We have addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future."

The FCC has reportedly became aware of the issue back in January, when customers first complained about the erroneous fees, and have been investigating the problem since. A statement released by an FCC spokesman said the organization is glad to see Verizon repaying the false fees, but questions why it took so long for the company to take action. The statement confirmed an ongoing investigation into the matter that will discern any additional penalties handed out to Verizon and any policy changes that could prevent such errors from occurring in the future.

One of the largest US wireless carriers, Verizon reported that the fees were charged to customers over the last several years. Customers with active accounts with the company will receive credits on their bills, while former customers will receive checks in the mail. Many of the fees were apparently charged when customers with non-data plans opened mobile web links, even though they did not receive data and should not have incurred any charges. Other customers were charged fees without taking any actions at all, according to the company's statement.

The erroneous data fees were originally reported in 2009 by both the New York Times and the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Based on Verizon's estimates, the total amount erroneously charged to customers will range from $30 million to $90 million. While the company estimates the average fee mistakenly charged to users at $2 to $6, some customers will receive rebates of a higher amount. The FCC, meanwhile, said it will continue its investigation despite Verizon's actions, saying that American consumers have a right to receive straight bills and a right to straight answers when they question bills.




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