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Verizon Offers Refunds For Fraudulent SMS Messages

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the take-a-couple-bucks dept.

Security 55

itwbennett writes "Verizon has filed a lawsuit against a group of people and related companies that it alleges duped people into signing up and getting charged for premium short message services. Because some of the short message programs the defendants set up complied with Verizon's rules, Verizon says it is unable to identify which customers didn't know about the charges for the services. As a result it has set up a Web page where customers can file a claim form and get reimbursed if they were wrongly charged for the services."

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55 comments

... sms robbery (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35441822)

premium sms is a kind of robbery with the benevolence of phone companies and the goberments that do not prohibit them

Re:... sms robbery (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 3 years ago | (#35441928)

I wish I could block texts altogether - most of the exchanges are really faster with a phone call. Also the concept of charging for this chunk of data per byte/whatever_unit many magnitudes higher than their internet/voice stream is nonsense.

I don't want to pay for $20/month unlimited SMS service, wish I could block the damned things rather than being charged $0.05 for each one I receive. I wonder how many other private companies in the US can charge you for recieving something you simply don't want. Back in the later 1800s, mail order companies tried doing that, sending things people didn't order to them and then billing them afterwards, didn't stick in court.

Re:... sms robbery (1)

emj (15659) | more than 3 years ago | (#35441984)

I stance is that SMS is very good to let people know what is happening. E.g. "I'm going to be at bla bla at 13.00 meet me there I'll leave at 13:15", it's horrible when you get into the discussions like "well are you sure you mean 13:00 and not 01:00 am?" "oh you mean foo bar not bla bla, right?"

But considering I've met many people who send more than 50 texts per day, so they are clearly very good at comunicating with texts.

Re:... sms robbery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442030)

I've met many people who send more than 50 texts per day, so they are clearly very good at comunicating with texts.

Or they are very bad at communicating with texts and send ten where one would do.

Re:... sms robbery (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442116)

"I'm going to be at bla bla at 13.00 meet me there I'll leave at 13:15",

That's allright, if it's 13:00 in 1 week. There's no guarantee that an SMS will be delivered at all, much less on time. Usually, they guarantee that they will deliver the message within 7 days, or not at all. I've seen SMS with christmas wishes arrive at new year's eve.

Re:... sms robbery (1)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442456)

My Motorola E815 (on Verizon) had this "Send Later" option for SMS where you specified a time. It never worked right.

Ironically, the two times I tried to do it, I was with the people I messaged when it finally showed up.... a week or two later.

It's just another overused tool (2)

RulerOf (975607) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442702)

But considering I've met many people who send more than 50 texts per day, so they are clearly very good at comunicating with texts.

Nah, they're usually just too ADHD to talk to one person at a time.

SMS is great for avoiding conversation while communicating with others, and that most definitely has its merits. However, I remember that, as a teenager, I often talked to girls using instant messaging because it allowed me to compose myself without saying something stupid. Unfortunately though, the stuff it left out eventually taught me that flirting via IM was a foolish and questionably effective endeavor.

Conversation is as much a game as it is a form of art or a tool for communication. Handicapping yourself by limiting your control over that game, your canvas for the art, or a choice of the inferior or improper tool for the sake of----whatever the hell the reason is----when you could simply talk to someone to communicate more efficiently or more accurately in the majority of situations is just... stupid.

And don't even get me started on how I'm supposed to understand 160 characters of nonsense without *any* punctuation.....

Re:... sms robbery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35444750)

No, the basic idea of short text messages is a great idea for that, but SMS is a lousy idea, because while it uses a tiny fraction of the bandwidth of a voice call, and also doesn't have the same latency/nojitter requirements, for some reason the phone companies tend to charge more for them, instead of less. We need to replace SMS with Jabber or something. The UI is fine; the reliance on the legacy phone system is not.

Re:... sms robbery (2)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442016)

In Europe you do not get charged in any way for receiving text messages.
You do not pay anything to receive calls either...

You pay to send messages to people and you get charged for calling, but not for receiving.

Re:... sms robbery (1)

digitig (1056110) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442336)

In the UK at least you do pay to receive some texts. Watch late-night satellite TV and you'll see lots of ads for dating services which they say in the small print will keep sending you texts costing something like £1.50 each until you stop them.

Re:... sms robbery (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443158)

Yeah, that is a special case for non-free services.

What you pay when you receive these text is not a charge by the phone company for delivery but a service charge from the provider of the service in question. That distinction is important.

As I understand it from conversations with american friends, if you used such a dating site and it cost 1 USD per message received from the service, that would be 1 USD + provider charge (1 sms off your balance or 0.05USD or somesuch).

So no, we do not pay for being delivered a text, but companies CAN charge our cellphone plan for services. Like buying facebook credits... *shudders*

Re:... sms robbery (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447228)

Paying for incoming calls and texts should only be allowed if you in exchange get free caller ID so that you have the option to reject calls and texts you don't want.

Re:... sms robbery (1)

omglolbah (731566) | more than 3 years ago | (#35448992)

Um... you mean you dont see the number of whoever is calling by default without PAYING for it?....

All Norwegian cell service providers have had that feature (for free..) since the days of the first GSM phones...

Re:... sms robbery (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450140)

What provider is that, and how can they get away with charging for something that is usually a built-in feature of every phone service? And how come that such provider has more than 0 customers?

Re:... sms robbery (1)

Vlado (817879) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450762)

In Europe you DO pay if you subscribe to SMS service.

SMS texts that are sent to you from your friends or in general are not charged. But if you subscribe to a service you can be charged quite high sums per every SMS you receive.

Re:... sms robbery (0)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442224)

I don't want to pay for $20/month unlimited SMS service, wish I could block the damned things rather than being charged $0.05 for each one I receive.

And how exactly did they force you to sign such a contract?

Re:... sms robbery (1)

Kosi (589267) | more than 3 years ago | (#35450112)

LMAO, my parent got modded "Troll"! WTF?

I mean who else is to blame than the moron who signed a contract (or uses a prepaid card), where he has to pay for receiving(!) an SMS or a call? (Excluding international roaming fees, which are not allowed for SMS in the EU, because you can't choose to receive one or not like you can do with a call)

Re:... sms robbery (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442354)

You should switch to Verizon! (No, seriously, they will let you put SMS and data blocks on your account. I have family members that have them set.)

Re:... sms robbery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442418)

> I wish I could block texts altogether

Buy a data-only SIM and use VOIP? Works on my computer^Wphone!

Re:... sms robbery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446324)

posting AC because it might be off topic, but after being abused so deeply by telcos, i'm extremely happy to be with Cricket. 50/month flat, never any overages, unlimited everything. No amount of iphone could ever compensate for avoiding any worry of getting another 600$ unintended bill (a YEARS worth of cricket service in ONE month of ATT/Verizon/etc. I'm never going back.

Re:... sms robbery (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35447672)

You can block SMS. Just call VzW and ask for a text block. You can also block ingoing or outgoing calls, or data. All the carriers have this capacity.

Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35441952)

How many people have complained that Verizon representatives gloss over fees and other costs associated with the plans you choose?

It's overly complicated BECAUSE they can use that complication to make more money off you. Now Verizon has a company that's doing the very same thing they do...and they are driving out the competition with a lawsuit.

How much more complicated have Verizon plans gotten in the last few years?

Last time I looked, they had categories of phones. Regular phone, Multimedia phone, Smart Phone, I believe the multimedia phone category has been eliminated though.

So when you pick a phone, if it fits into that category, you must buy certain other increased services to activate that phone on their network.

Now you buy a multi-line plan....say a family plan consisting of 5 lines. You pay for a package of minutes they all share, simple enough. But then add in the phone categories. Now each phone has to have extra services. And it's per number. So now your nice simple plan breaks down into per line charges.

And why does texting cost so fucking much in comparison to voice? Texting is so much less data being sent in small packets while voice requires so much more infrastructure......why does sending a text cost 30 cents a text or 15-20-30 dollars a month? I don't even use texting, but that has always baffled me. It's a pointlessly expensive thing, since using it would make it cheaper for Verizon to handle more traffic.

All mobile carriers are pointlessly complicated and shady, because it makes them more money being that way.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (3, Informative)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442136)

ow you buy a multi-line plan....say a family plan consisting of 5 lines.

Last I looked, the family plan doesn't require five phones. A family plan was simply shared minutes with two or more phones. The problem is, its actually more expensive until you get five phones on your plan. Verizon's family plan actually makes no sense. Traditionally, shared minutes was a means of cheaper service. But with Verizon, you actually pay a premium for cheaper service until you have reached five lines and then its only slightly discounted.

If you are a Verizon customer and on a family plan and do not have five phones on the account, very, very, very likely you can save money by moving away from the family plan and converting to individual plans without shared minutes.

Texting is so much less data being sent in small packets while voice requires so much more infrastructure

Its even more insulting than that. Text data is actually carried by the control channel which every phone must have to register on the network. All they did was increase the packet size of the control channel messages. That's why there is a text message size limit. The RF portion of transport is really what costs them and their extra cost for carrying SMS is literally, almost zero. On a busy tower, they can fit 9 SMS messages into a single ethernet frame which means. SMS is the most expensive data for consumers and the cheapest for carriers. The fact SMS isn't a completely free service is mind numbing.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442494)

I just don't see that as true. Let me give you a breakdown of my 4 line family plan:

I have a base price of $110. This is for 1400 minutes and unlimited cell phone talk (any provider) and unlimited text messaging and 10 "Friends and Family" numbers that you can call free.

The price is then $10 per additional line, so an extra $30 bringing my total to $140.

Now, the cheapest voice plan, without text messaging, is 200 minutes for 29.99. This does not include friends and family. Multiply that by 4 and you get almost $120 but only 800 minutes. I personally can use 300 - 500 minutes no problem, even outside of my friends and family and other cell phone usage.

To make it more fair, my daughter can send/receive 100 text messages a day (and more... she's a teen what do you expect...). Add 20 cents per text to that 29.99 plan and you're WAY over what I'm paying.

Let's look at the CHEAPEST voice and text plan: 59.99 for 450 minutes and unlimited text messaging. For 2 phones, that would be $119.98. For 2 phones, I'm paying $120 and getting 1400 minutes to share instead of 900 minutes each. If I use 600 minutes and my wife uses 300 minutes, we'd still hit the 900, but I'd now be charged an overage. Also, cheapest plans don't include Friends and Family or free to any cell phone.

At 3 lines, I'm looking at $179.97 for still LESS minutes, less features, and MORE money than my family plan where I'd be paying $130.

Also, a side note, family plans are all billed by line. The primary line is charged the base price ($110 in my case) and the additional lines are all charged $10 for access. We share minutes and everybody has unlimited text messaging, unlimited calling to any cell phone in the US, and most of the numbers called by the other 3 in my plan are either cell phones or on the friends and family. Sure I could pay a lot less for fewer minutes, but I like the fact that the majority of my family's calls don't rack up minutes. Drop too much and they start to take minutes.

Also note, This comparison was using a higher level of service (more minutes and features) than the minimum used for individual lines. Using the same, or similar, features makes even 2 lines more economical than individuals.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442778)

I went through this a little over a year ago. Last time I went through the numbers, it was break even at line four and discount at line five. Obviously things vary based on the exact options and time associated with you plan.

Please do note I said, "likely". I specifically avoided absolutes here.

The primary purpose of my post was to get people to look. Its very possible they can save money with multiple, individual plans rather than a family plan if they are not maxing the number of lines.

unlimited text messaging

Unless you're a teenage girl, changes are you're paying something like $10-$15/m (forget exact amounts now) too much here. Chances are, unlimited text makes sense for your daughter but it doesn't make sense for you or you're wife. You didn't say what you and your wife's text usage is, but changes are you can save $20-$30/mo by using a more limited texting plan on those phones. Really, unless you are a very heavy text user, unlimited texting never makes sense. They have other texting plans but they are generally not advertised because they make lots of money from people who buy the unlimited plan but don't actually use it.

Besides, if you have a smart phone, the need for SMS and MMS is dramatically reduced. In fact, if you're circle of friends and family have smart phones, its likely MUCH cheaper to not have a text plan at all. Obviously your daughter is an exception because her circle of friends likely doesn't include smart phones given the volume of messages she generates.

Seriously, if you look, and depending on your options, lots of money have be saved. All too often, its not hard to save money by NOT using a family plan if you only have a couple of phones on the plan.

* Please note, my statements are also under the assumption their pricing hasn't significantly changed over the last year plus.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35443196)

Umm, you realize those 'teenage girls' who have stereotypically been the heavy texters in the past are now in their 20's and 30's and still text a whole lot. It is a primary mode of communication these days - I regularly communicate with my friends, family, and even my boss with SMS and they're all over 25.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443564)

If we didn't have an unlimted text plan, you're right we wouldn't text.
We both have smart phones, but still use text due to ease of use. I haven't found a good IM interface yet for Android.
I personally have used 384 text messages so far this cycle (Ends on 3/26).
Daughter's used 759
Wife: 422.
I think we pay something like $20 for unlimited text messaging. Since VZW charges in and out, that puts us at 1.27 cents per message so far with still 16 days to go in our cycle. We do pretty well. Again, if I wasn't paying for text message plan, we'd have 0 text usage. I've also got unlimited data and hit typically 300 - 500 MB a month but like knowing that I can do more.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444532)

For IM on Android what's wrong with Google Talk? It works great in my experience.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35446624)

Honestly, didn't think about it... I could use that for communicating to my wife and daughter yes, but most of my online friends are on yahoo or irc. It would be great if Pidgin could port over. I'd always be on my IM then.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442888)

If you are a Verizon customer and on a family plan and do not have five phones on the account, very, very, very likely you can save money by moving away from the family plan and converting to individual plans without shared minutes.

That's total bullshit. I suggest you go to their website and do some simple math.

A single plan with 450 minutes and unlimited texts is $60/month.

A family share with 2 people sharing 700 minutes and unlimited texts is $100/month, or $50/month/person.

Yeah, you get fewer minutes, but, In my experience, the number of minutes have never been a limiting factor. In the three years I've had such a plan, I've never gotten close to going over, much like I've never come close to using my 450 minutes when I had a single plan. Heck, I don't think we've ever used over 450 minutes combined. Instead, we each save $10/month.

I just added 2 more people to my family share and the savings gets even better. 1100 minutes (plus unlimited calls to 10 numbers you can designate) with unlimited texts shared with 4 people is $140/month, or $35/person/month. Now we each save $25/month. Yes, again fewer minutes, but again, not a limiting factor. Plus, since 90%+ of our minutes used each month go to fewer than 10 numbers that can be designated for unlimited calling, the 4 of us now use less than I did by myself.

I'm not trying to sound like a salesman here - I just went through VZW's billing myself and can't stand leaving mindless, ignorant hater bullshit like this alone. VZW's billing is fairly simple and straight forward and if you claim to have trouble with it you are either being disingenuous or are mildly retarded. Now Comcast's billing, on the other hand, is quite clearly intentionality confusing and misleading, but that's for another day.

As for texting costs, you, and most other technical people, don't understand how costs are set. Right, so SMS uses the cellular scraps that would otherwise be trashed, but that doesn't indicate its value. Value is set by the consumer, and unfortunately, people are still willing to pay $20/month for SMS. It doesn't matter if something costs a fraction of a cent to manufacture; if people are willing to spend significantly more, that is how much it will cost. Until people start seeing the value of using IM and email and cancel their texting plans, we will continue to see high SMS costs. And if the perceived value of SMS ever does drop, the cellular providers will just need to make up the revenue somewhere else and raise other prices.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

GooberToo (74388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443006)

I suggest you go to their website and do some simple math.

I did. That's how I came to that conclusion. Why do angry over simply math. You may not save money with your options but it can be done. I didn't say in absolute terms.

Why it is so hard for supposedly smart people to actually use their head? That's rhetorical.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

limaxray (1292094) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443092)

Please prove your point with examples, otherwise I'm not seeing where you're drawing this conclusion from. Give just one example where going to a family share plan does NOT save money.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

Insightfill (554828) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444682)

Please prove your point with examples, otherwise I'm not seeing where you're drawing this conclusion from. Give just one example where going to a family share plan does NOT save money.

It's possible that the parent post is arguing that since the total number of minutes available goes DOWN on a per-line basis, you have to add minutes back in to make it balance out. This would bump you up to the next tier, and cost more.

My own experience is that you end up calling the other numbers in the plan for free, so those don't count against your minutes. Also: since you have a single pool of minutes shared among accounts, you use them more efficiently than if you had the same minutes split up among accounts. Kinda like having two hard drives which are 90% full; you can't really save any large files any more, but if you had a single larger drive, you could. (Sorry it's not a car analogy.)

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35453808)

Also add in the fact the lowest texting plan at VZN is $5/Mo and unlimited testing (for the whole family plan is $20/Mo. Once you hit 4 phones its a no brainer to have unlimited text because it costs the same as the individual lower cost plan.

Speaking form experience here.

This post is completely hate free.

Simple answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442890)

The fact SMS isn't a completely free service is mind numbing.

Why do they charge extra for it?

Because they can.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35446818)

If SMS was free, you'd see idiots making IP-over-SMS systems and other nonsense and bringing down the cell networks by saturating the control channels.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447258)

That's easy to fix.

Just throttle SMS well below machinable standards so that IP over SMS doesn't even give dialup a run for the money.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442244)

And why does texting cost so fucking much in comparison to voice?

Because they can. When GSM was introduced in Europe in the late 90s, text messages were 1 cent each.

Texting is so much less data being sent in small packets while voice requires so much more infrastructure......why does sending a text cost 30 cents a text or 15-20-30 dollars a month? I don't even use texting, but that has always baffled me. It's a pointlessly expensive thing, since using it would make it cheaper for Verizon to handle more traffic.

Text messages carry an overhead for establishing the connection and shutting it down again that is many times larger than the payload of the message. However, since there's no guarantee of service quality at all (i.e. no real time requirement, the message can be delievered when the network is otherwise unused), that's no reason for the prices they charge.

Re:Whose going to sue Verizon? (1)

linuxwolf69 (1996104) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442524)

I don't disagree with some of your ranting (text messaging being so expensive for one) but I don't think that my plan prices are complicated at all. The VZW reps were very up front about all fees and what was required for the phones I wanted. They answered all of my questions and gave me a breakdown of charges before I signed the contract. All of the reps I've dealt with (different reps in 2 stores and various on the phone) have been very nice and forthcoming with information. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Also, the phones clearly state that they require whatever data package. I do not agree with the multimedia phones having a data package, but that's a rant for another day.

creators; planet/population rescue failing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442070)

crazy huh? the sense is that; we can 'handle' this for you. we have lots of options. presently, we believe you can at least participate in the identification, disarming & herding of the genetically challenged mutants. fear seems to be blocking your abilities (as we chant; disarmament...., life, ohmmmm) get the connection? thanks). that's understandable, but doesn't work. there's more on the line here than maybe you've been told.

if you are unable to assist yourselves, we'll take care of it. it (evile et al) has no (0) restraint at this time. that's scary no? the rub is; that as we calculate losses differently than you (more than 0 is not allowed at all), we're probably going to have to move ALL of our innocents out of here (we can do it in the wink of an eye), as we've witnessed this behavior before, & it's not going to happen like that again. guaranteed. so, the truth hurts, but could cause... hopefully something? your crisis level is off the scale, & you refuse (unable?, so odd) to accept our help, & you scoff at our intentions for you. as mentioned, the prime directive has been initiated. you may feel a 'compressed' time effect? so, the time to act 'better' ...., was before now. as anyone can 'see' there's still time?

makes a lot of 'tears' fall, as we know who you were made to be. we'll always be here&there for you, should consider allowing for our help, & even if you don't. thanks.

('interpreted' from the survive & thrive mandate; the we_must_have_friends_somewhere chapter)

jamba? (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442220)

that was/is practically their business plan. they didn't care even if the sw they were selling was obviously fraud or almost fraud(with the defense that because the adverts are colorful you shouldn't take them seriously.. so you shouldn't have sued them for selling you a subscription in order for you to get a mosquito repellent software that couldn't even technically work like the advert said).

so how surprising is it that there's copycats for it? not at all. also the sms billing and fleecing business around it is the reason why mobile sw took a while to get really up, yes, it was the companies which would have profited from it had it gone more mainstream that made it too expensive for it to get really popular, who wants to buy a coke or a game with a payment method that leaves most of the money to the operators in the mix, with software it's not so obvious but with coke etc you see the price hike straight in the bill. also this is why ridiculously it's possible to make a setup where an actual call is used for the billing, even though that ends up as more traffic in the operators network it ends up being cheaper for the guy providing the service and for the customer using the service. sms's could be very well used for miniscule payments had their billing structure been more sensible(it's not a network congestion thing why the value of sending sms had been valued so high, it's a traditional thing from being able to bill people 25 cents for sending 160 characters).

Horrible Website (1)

MrOctogon (865301) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442226)

They couldn't make the claims page part of the main verizon website? The css and layout are so different, I was asking myself "Is this a scam?" Even the url is dubious. It appears genuine, but if people were smart (which they aren't) they would be careful about where they type in their personal information. Seems like a pretty nice scam to me: Set up registration form somewhere on the web. Submit inflammatory articles to slashdot linking to said form. Steal all the email accounts you want.

Re:Horrible Website (1)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442468)

Stuff like this is always weird, I think it's because the legal team handling this gets the page set up, not Verizon corporate. On a side note, there was probably a press release linking to that site, or you could likely call customer support to verify it.

Typical Tactics (1)

alphatel (1450715) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442400)

As part of the special Verizon refund program, you have to scour your wireless bills (this could be up to 5 or 6 years ago) and provide the date and time of the text which signed you up for the service. If they were serious about refunds wouldn't they know who was charged and who wasn't? It's practically a joke.

(shortened version of the terms)

  • Be able to identify the charges for which you are seeking a credit or refund... know the name of the content provider/merchant behind the charges... also include the short code (the 5 to 7 digit “text to” number), and any other information identifying the charges.
  • Know when this charge first appeared on your bill.
  • Know the total amount of the refund you are seeking... provide the exact amount of the unauthorized charges...

Re:Typical Tactics (1)

BoogeyOfTheMan (1256002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444290)

Premium SMS shows up on VZW bills under the data charges section. Since its a monthly charge, you dont have to scour your bill, you just have to look for a $9.99 charge under data.

The reason they want customers to tell them which ones were unsolicited is because sometimes people do request the service. Not often, but sometimes. In the 2 months I was doing inbound customer service for VZW, I had to deal with people being pissed about premium SMS numerous times and only had 1 person admit to requesting the service. And then there were people who used the service but were not aware it cost as much as it did. So, yes, not everyone with premium SMS charges on their bill need refunds.

My kids stumbled onto this (1)

doug (926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442590)

My older son was being billed for $9.95/month and when I called Verizon and asked about it, they gave him a refund and blocked out the ptxt service. One call to 611 got the whole thing worked out. It was annoying, but Verizon fixed the problem.

Re:My kids stumbled onto this (1)

tompaulco (629533) | more than 3 years ago | (#35442732)

I had them charging for premium text services on a phone that had no SMS capability and a line that had data blocking turned on. Like you said, I called them and it got corrected, but why should we have to call on a line that is supposed to block all this stuff?
What I have noticed is that every time you make a change to your account, change your phone, click your mouse button, or whatever, that triggers premium blocking to be turned back off, and so at least every couple of months I am back on the phone asking them to turn it off again.
The upshot is, that the cell phone companies are acting just like your credit card company, allowing you to put charges on your phone bill. However, unlike your credit card company, they have no regulation. And unlike your credit card company, they get to keep about 1/3 of the money, so they are VERY interested in allowing the scams and frauds to continue.

Re:My kids stumbled onto this (1)

BoogeyOfTheMan (1256002) | more than 3 years ago | (#35444360)

A data block does not block premuim SMS. You need a premium SMS block. And no, the blocks dont get removed everytime you make a change to your account, but some changes, such as going from regular phone to smartphone or multimedia phone will auto remove the blocks and if you dont tell the rep that you want to keep the blocks, they dont re-add them. Also, if you make the change yourself on your account website, you have to make sure the blocks are still in place.

Also, they are not interested in having this fraud continue, becuase it costs them more in customer service having to accept the call and refund the charge. Remember, those charges are from a third party, VZW still pays them even though they may remove them from your bill.

Re:My kids stumbled onto this (1)

JaneTheIgnorantSlut (1265300) | more than 3 years ago | (#35443020)

Had a similar problem a few years ago with Sprint and a company called Blinko. All Sprint would do was tell me the name of the company that stuck the 9.99 charge on my bill. They said they could not prevent these sorts of charges. Took about 3 months but I did get the money back, no thanks to Sprint. Needless to say Sprint and I parted ways as the next opportunity.

Money For Nothing... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35442754)

I've received these sorts of "premium" (ie crap) messages in the past and it was a pain to get Verizon to block premium text messages on my account. And why wouldn't it be? They make money when that sort of thing happens. Know your rights. Educate yourself regarding the sort of features and options that your carrier offers. Don't be the "good customer" when this happens to you. Then call your state attorney general's office and find out where you can lodge a complaint.

Verizon handled this pretty well in my oppinion (1)

morphotomy (1655417) | more than 3 years ago | (#35447356)

A few years back, I got slammed with something like this when I stupidly let someone use my number cause they didnt have a phone. After calling Verizon, they refunded my money and put something on my account to block the possibility of me being signed into any of this shit ever again.

I interviewed with these bozos - Cylon now Jawa (1)

I'm just joshin (633449) | more than 3 years ago | (#35452270)

I interviewed with these guys a couple of years ago to run their IT department. They were really vague about what their actual service was. I let the interview early as nothing felt right. Though they did seem to have tons of $.

They're now going by the name of Jawa and are at http://jawa.com/ [jawa.com] . They're pushing a happy charitable face but doing the same crap as they were before.

-J

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