In a statement issued yesterday by Verizon Wireless, it will issue credits or refunds to 15 million customers that were billed for data sessions on their phones that the customer did not initiate. According to an article by CNN, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) confirmed that it was investigating Verizon’s billing practices for these services, which are estimated to total $50 million in revenue for Verizon. While Verizon’s refund for the data charges is unprecedented in the industry, it is long overdue. In fact, according to NY Times Technology Blogger David Pogue, in November 2009, Verizon denied that it was engaging in this practice.
Many consumers do not evaluate their bill closely enough to realize that they have an additional $1.99 charge for the data session. Even if a consumer discovered the erroneous charge, the Company refused to remove the charge from the customer’s bill, as demonstrated in some of the 400 comments to Pogue’s post How Much Do You Charge Now?. Fortunately, the FCC, which is the government agency charged with oversight of the wireless communications industry, received enough complaints regarding this practice that it began an investigation into the practices of Verizon Wireless. If a consumer was left to resolve a dispute of such a nominal value on their own, there would be no meaningful way to help the customer on an individual basis, since the attorney fee for handling the matter would outweigh the benefit of having the charge refunded.
If you discover billing errors on your wireless bill, contact the provider first to try to resolve the dispute; take notes of the telephone conversation, including the date and time of your call, and the name of the customer service representative that you spoke with. If you are unsuccessful in resolving the dispute, file a complaint with the FCC.