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Businesses The Almighty Buck Verizon Wireless Networking

Verizon Backtracks On $2 Convenience Fee 281

Velcroman1 writes with a followup to yesterday's news that Verizon would be implementing a $2 'convenience fee' for certain online and phone-based bill payments. In addition to dealing with outrage from customers, Verizon also felt resistance from the Federal Communications Commission, who decided they would investigate the matter. Today, in a brief press release, Verizon announced that they've canceled their plans for the new fee in response to customer feedback.
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Verizon Backtracks On $2 Convenience Fee

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  • Re:Saw This Coming (Score:4, Interesting)

    by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:32PM (#38543142)

    When are these idiots going to realize that bullshit charges like this aren't going to fly anymore? [snip] Consumers are finally waking up, and they're tired of what basically amounts to theft.

    Sort of. The thing is, most businesses bury such excess charges within general service fees anyway, if they feel like they want to make more money and are confident that enough people will pay for it. The "theft" will often happen anyway: it will just be buried in a general service fee rather than enumerated separately.

    These itemized fees can go both ways. It depends on how many people want or use the itemized fee item. For example, for a long time, credit card companies were happy to charge ridiculous fees for people who were delinquent, along with other random penalty fees, as well as apply huge rate penalties, etc. Thanks to Congress last year, their ability to do this is much more limited. And thus my low fixed-rate credit cards went away, because their profits from me were no longer subsidized by the delinquents. (Not that I ever carried a balance anyway....)

    For another example, people in my town seem, for the most part, to approve of the fact that the city makes over 1/3 of its budget from street-cleaning fines, because it uses an algorithm for setting street-cleaning dates that most people have trouble remembering. They could just bundle the city budget in local taxes instead, but they choose to make it off of forgetful people instead. Personally, I think it's more than a little immoral to charge more for tickets for obstructing a street cleaner than for actual hazardous parking activity (like, for example, parking too close to an intersection, and until a few years ago, parking too close to a fire hydrant), but maybe that's just me. (If there are any street cleaning fanatic defenders out there, be aware that last year due to a change in service, the street cleaners NEVER came by during the appropriate marked ticketing hours for a period of over six months... only later on the appointed days. My neighborhood suffered no unseemly build-up of detritus during this period at all.)

    On the other hand, the change to an itemized fee-based structure for food on airlines seems a reasonable thing to me, particularly for short and mid-length flights where you don't necessarily need to eat a real meal. I'd prefer to have the choice of paying for a $10 crappy meal or not (and bringing my own if necessary), rather than having it bundled into the cost of my flight even if it's terrible. (I'd be even happier if the TSA would let me bring in whatever food and drink I want, rather than being forced to pay the airport premium for a lot of it.)

    Anyhow, my experience is that consumers are actually rather accepting of such miscellaneous fees and fines, as long as they don't tend to apply to them very often. Companies (and governments) therefore often choose them over blanket fee increases. But even though many of them may be evil or immoral, I don't see a grand consumer effort to get rid of most of them... because a lot of people often benefit from them (as I used to benefit in my credit card rates).

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @06:35PM (#38543162)

    I'll bet that if you actually read the contract, it won't say how much you are going to pay, and that it is has clauses that allow changes to the contract with notice.

    They wouldn't be breaching the contract (unless they wrote it very stupidly, and I bet their lawyers won't let them do that) any more than if you called up and said "I want to add this extra service, and I won't pay any more than the contractually agreed to price of $80."

    I have read the contract, have you? I don't see anything in it that says they can make me pay for any non-governmental related surcharge:

    What Charges Are Set by Verizon Wireless?
    You agree to pay all access, usage and other charges that you or the user of your wireless device incurred. For Postpay Service, our charges also include Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges, and we may also include other charges related to our governmental costs. We set these charges; they aren't taxes, they aren't required by law, they are not necessarily related to anything the government does, they are kept by us in whole or in part, and the amounts and what they pay for may change.

    And while they can change the terms of the contract and the prices I pay, if they do, I can cancel my contract without an ETF if it affects me an a material way, and a $1 surcharge on all payments sounds like a material effect:

    Can Verizon Wireless Change This Agreement or My Service?
    We may change prices or any other term of your Service or this agreement at any time,but we'll provide notice first, including written notice if you have Postpay Service. If you use your Service after the change takes effect, that means you're accepting the change. If you're a Postpay customer and a change to your Plan or this agreement has a material adverse effect on you, you can cancel the line of Service that has been affected within 60 days of receiving the notice with no Early Termination Fee.

  • by antifoidulus ( 807088 ) on Friday December 30, 2011 @07:20PM (#38543590) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, which gives them plenty of opportunities to gouge you with either erroneous fees or overages that they hope you will not notice. That was the real motivation.

"We don't care. We don't have to. We're the Phone Company."