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Verizon Backtracks On $2 Convenience Fee

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the people-have-spoken dept.

Businesses 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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281 comments

Don't you love asshats (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542644)

That charge you for the privilege of paying your damn bill! GAHHHH!!!!!

Re:Don't you love asshats (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542664)

Really it was just a thinly veiled attempt to force customers onto their auto-pay system because if you switched to auto-pay they waived the fee.

Re:Don't you love asshats (2)

QuantumLeaper (607189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543030)

That what my Gas company does, they go though a 3rd party to pay online, but if you auto-pay you don't get charged the 3rd party fee....

Re:Don't you love asshats (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543066)

Yeah, I was going to leave them if they actually did this. Because there are 3 other large providers out there, thanks to Verizon being vocal about reduced competition :)

Re:Don't you love asshats (2)

LifesABeach (234436) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543182)

Just a thought, but I was under the impression that charging a fee for accepting a credit card for purchases was illegal. I guess some grinning show off at Verizon found a loop hole. Calling it a "convenience fee?" Go figure.

Re:Don't you love asshats (2)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543228)

Just a thought, but I was under the impression that charging a fee for accepting a credit card for purchases was illegal.

From what I understand, you are permitted to charge a fee for a credit transaction but only if it is a flat fee not based on the transaction amount. Around my location it is very common for places to charge $0.35 for a debit/credit transaction.

Re:Don't you love asshats (4, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543404)

you are permitted to charge a fee for a credit transaction

You can charge lots of fees, but you may not charge a fee for using a credit card, or you would be in violation of Visa and Mastercard guidelines, and subject to losing your privilege of processing MC/Visa, if your violation were reported by your customers:

From Mastercard credit card acceptance guidelines [fivecentnickel.com]

Charges to cardholders. A merchant may not directly or indirectly require a cardholder to pay a surcharge or any part of the merchant processing fees charged in connection with a transaction. However, fees are allowable if they are charged regardless of the form of the payment, and merchants can provide a cash discount.

Minimum/maximum transaction amount prohibited. A merchant may not require, or indicate that it requires, a minimum or maximum transaction amount in order to accept a valid and properly presented MasterCard.

Re:Don't you love asshats (1)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543232)

Yeah, I thought that too when I first heard the story.
But then realized who actually makes the laws... /sad

Re:Don't you love asshats (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543390)

Why would it be illegal? Provided that the charge is disclosed up front.

It's been ages since it's been the case, but I recall back in the early '90s where most computer shops around here would give a 3% cash discount for people that paid by cash or check.

It got national TV news coverage (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542648)

That tends to get the attention of politicians.

Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (5, Insightful)

greyline (1052440) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542656)

They may have backtracked on this "convenience fee", but Verizon will still get their $2 from their customers, just not as obviously.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542716)

Oh, yes. They'll get their $2. Once they send out their Child Labor Army and empty the call centers...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6z9Cg46Nktw [youtube.com]

Way to plagiarize (-1, Troll)

hellfire (86129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542786)

Wonderful way to snatch some karma, plagiarize the tweet from Harry McCracken [twitter.com] that's going around. Bravo ;)

Re:Way to plagiarize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542838)

Yeah, that's real plagiarism. I'm sure something that you would consider "plagiarism" went through the minds of a couple thousand people when they read the headlines. Get over yourself. It's especially rich of you to say that when one of your own blogs says "One should never complain about someone else stealing your ideas." As if this is a real idea.

Re:Way to plagiarize (1)

PessimysticRaven (1864010) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542998)

How is it plagiarism to say a corporation will find another way to fleece its customers? I have to agree with the AC below, on this one.
Is it "ZOMG!plagiarizm!" if one wasn't aware of it ahead of time? Some have better things to do than monitor the Twatterverse.

My .02.

Re:Way to plagiarize (2)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543074)

greylines sentence:

They may have backtracked on this "convenience fee", but Verizon will still get their $2 from their customers, just not as obviously.

Harry McCracken's tweet:

When Verizon says it won't charge $2 for online payments, it's saying it'll get $2 out of you in some less obvious manner. Some victory.

I see NOTHING plagiaristic. Having the same idea isn't the same as plagiarism.

Re:Way to plagiarize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543094)

Hey now, both of them are written in English and both of them contain the 50 cent word "obvious" (albeit in different forms). Clearly plagiarism.

Definition of plagiarism (0)

hellfire (86129) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543166)

Plagiarism is defined in dictionaries as the "wrongful appropriation," "close imitation," or "purloining and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions," and the representation of them as one's own original work.

So first of all your argument is wrong because it doesn't have to be exact. I felt the use of the word "obvious/obviously" and the fact that it was a throwaway line made it seem heavily influenced by McCracken's tweet and has the exact same sentiment. At best it's a coincidence but it might not be, I'm just saying.

But considering I put a nice little ;) at the end basically means I wasn't trying to stir up something all that serious, but fire up your flamethrowers if it makes you happy, I'll be off somewhere else.

Re:Definition of plagiarism (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543344)

A one line common sense post is never going to be regarded as plagiarism by any body of refute without it being a part of a pattern. It's a well known phenomenon that corporations back off on a fee in one area and bury it elsewhere.

At the end of the day, an emoticon is hardly substitute for actual thought and manners.

Re:Way to plagiarize (1)

daath93 (1356187) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543116)

Who the fuck is Harry McCracken?

Re:Way to plagiarize (1)

darth dickinson (169021) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543236)

Phil McCracken's brother?

Re:Way to plagiarize (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543318)

Nobody copied that chucklefuck, everyone pretty much thought about it if they lived in the 21st century.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542812)

And I hope they do. All this 'free' is what puts hidden fees out there in the first place, and when they cannot do that, look for layoffs in the future.

Bring on the obvious argument that companies are somehow money-grubbers blah blah blah.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542850)

I bet no one would have cared if they had implemented a $1 processing fee to all payments, not just phone or online payment.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542898)

I bet no one would have cared if they had implemented a $1 processing fee to all payments, not just phone or online payment.

I bet you're wrong.

If my contract says I have to pay them $80/month for service, if they make it cost $81/month, they are breaching that contract.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

egomaniac (105476) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542964)

You're telling me that Verizon has no taxes and surcharges, and your bills are always precisely $80 a month?

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543058)

You're telling me that Verizon has no taxes and surcharges, and your bills are always precisely $80 a month?

You're telling me that Verizon has no taxes and surcharges, and your bills are always precisely $80 a month?

Yes, I'm telling you that there no additional Verizon-only surcharges added to my bill. Taxes and government imposed fees apply, but no mandatory surcharges from Verizon.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

sloth jr (88200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543148)

I suggest you look at your bill again, particularly the section marked:
Verizon Wireless' Surcharges and Other Charges & Credits

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543346)

I suggest you look at your bill again, particularly the section marked:
Verizon Wireless' Surcharges and Other Charges & Credits

Well, you caught me - I'm no longer a Verizon customer so I can't look at my bill.

I switched to a T-Mobile prepaid plan a couple months ago. I'm paying $60/month for 2 phones (100 voice minutes, unlimited text, 5GB data each), down from $170/month on a Verizon family share plan.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543240)

Taxes and government imposed fees apply, but no mandatory surcharges from Verizon.

"Government-imposed fees"? Hah. "Regulatory compliance fees" are nothing but Hollywood accounting -- taking a cost of doing business and passing it along to the customer under a different name so they can claim that their prices are lower than they genuinely are.

My customers don't pay a "utility cost fee" to keep my lights and air conditioning running -- it's part of the cost of providing the services they pay for. Sales taxes are one thing, but most of the things that cell phone companies try to pass to the customer as "compliance fees" are simply BS.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543056)

If my contract says I have to pay them $80/month for service, if they make it cost $81/month, they are breaching that contract.

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."

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (3, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543406)

I have read the contract, have you?

Of course not. I haven't been a Verizon slave for more than a decade. That's why I said "I bet" instead of "I have read the contract and know".

I don't see anything in it that says they can make me pay for any non-governmental related surcharge:

You just quoted it. Here:

You agree to pay all access, usage and other charges that you or the user of your wireless device incurred...

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.

You agree to pay all ... other charges ... not necessarily related to anything the government does ... kept by us in whole or in part ... the amount ... may change. So, yes, it seems I was quite correct in saying that your contract not only does NOT specify how much you pay each month, it explicitely allows for changes to the amount you pay each month with appropriate notice. Just like I said.

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,

That is a significantly different concept than "breach of contract". You are now saying that the contract explicitly allows these charges and allows you a means of exiting from the contract. A "breach" would be if they didn't tell you they had the authority to charge you and did it anyway, or if they didn't let you out when they notified you of a change.

There is nothing in what you quoted that says that they cannot change the fees they charge you. Your claim that charging you more than the $80 your contract says you owe is a breach of contract is wrong. Can you quote a section of the contract that does specify how much you owe each month?

No, it seems that Verizon is acting within the explicit language of the contract: adding a charge and telling you about it. The only way left for them to breach the contract is if they didn't allow you to terminate without a fee, and you apparently haven't tried that yet. Have you?

Re:Big Red Will Still Get Their 2 bucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543292)

I bet you're wrong.

You loose.

If my contract says I have to pay them $80/month for service

Your contract doesn't say that. It says the charge is X. Taxes and fees are on top of X.

great (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542660)

I have not canceled my offer for them to lick my asshole.

Re:great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542804)

But have you gotten it bleached yet? I got mine today despite you not answering my query from yesterday and I love it. It didn't really come out pink more like a yellowish purple color. It looks so cute! What's your email, I'll send you a pic:)

Re:great (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542842)

No bleach, but I have it waxed to help manage the dingleberry population.

Re:great (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542968)

I endorse Veet [www.veet.us] for all my pubic hair removal needs. Just remember to save a landing strip so as not to irritate your partner's clit with stubble.

It can be used on the scrotum with minimal irritation.

Re:great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543040)

... Just remember to save a landing strip so as not to irritate your partner's clit with stubble.

What's a clit? And why would my partner have one?

I would love to see the FCC continue the investiga (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542666)

I would love to see the FCC continue the investigation. The timing seems too suspicious fro Verizon to have mysteriously give a shit about their customers opinions.

And... (5, Informative)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542668)

...they will no doubt try to make themselves looks a hero for not screwing us over by adding that charge. Yes, us. I was already looking at other carriers, only for the principle of charging us more for costing them less.

This is as bad as when the phone company charged $4 a month for "touch tone service" when it actually costs them less to provide it than to deal with pulse dialing.

Re:And... (5, Informative)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542922)

This is as bad as when the phone company charged $4 a month for "touch tone service" when it actually costs them less to provide it than to deal with pulse dialing.

Back when this was a regular charge, it did cost more to provide touch tone dialing. They had to add the DTMF-to-pulse decoders to existing systems. About the time that the old step-by-step hardware was replaced by something more modern (crossbar) and the pulse decoding became the more expensive part, the special charge for DTMF was removed.

Re:And... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543302)

About the time that the old step-by-step hardware was replaced by something more modern (crossbar) and the pulse decoding became the more expensive part, the special charge for DTMF was removed.

I see you've never been to Canada... (All hail Bell and the endless fees!)

Re:And... (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543080)

"It seems we lost 100,000 customers after we announced we weren't going to charge the $2. I guess they really wanted to pay us $2 more. Reinstate the fees!"

Re:And... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543288)

In the 80's as a kid I used to wonder why leaded gas was cheaper than unleaded, when leaded gas was the stuff that had extra processing done to it. Shouldn't the less-processed product be the cheaper product?

Blatant Theft vs Your New Expanded Statement (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542672)

Silly of them to be so upfront about their charges. That flies in the face of industry practice. I expect $3.50 will show up in mysterious voodoo charges now. Take that peons.

Re:Blatant Theft vs Your New Expanded Statement (1)

hashless (1833294) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542762)

I expect $3.50 will show up in mysterious voodoo charges now.

And then they can offer a $3.50 discount for switching to auto-pay. It's all a matter of positively marketing the fee increase.

Yay FCC! (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542692)

It seems like the FCC is the only government agency making any decisions/taking any actions that i actually agree with these days =P

Re:Yay FCC! (0)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543026)

It seems like the FCC is the only government agency making any decisions/taking any actions that i actually agree with these days =P

No, they make as many stupid ones as every other part of government.

Recently? Allowing Recon Robotics to use part of the 440MHz ham band for their remote controlled robots. Allowing low power medical devices in the same band. Allowing LightSquared to get a foothold and threaten every GPS application on the planet. The entire digital TV fiasco. BPL. Safe Harbor. Narrowband LMR.

They may make some you agree with, but they make a lot more that are stupid.

Saw This Coming (4, Insightful)

kaellinn18 (707759) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542694)

When are these idiots going to realize that bullshit charges like this aren't going to fly anymore? First Bank of America with their ridiculous ATM card fee and now Verizon with this. Consumers are finally waking up, and they're tired of what basically amounts to theft.

Re:Saw This Coming (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542760)

It's not theft. It's more like a very, very bad change in the deal after the customer has signed. Basically Verizon and their customer are in this arrangement [youtube.com] .

Re:Saw This Coming (3, Interesting)

AthanasiusKircher (1333179) | more than 2 years ago | (#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).

Re:Saw This Coming (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543190)

Since you never carry a balance anyway (good), your interest rate is irrelevant.

Re:Saw This Coming (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543342)

Seriously.

Americans are very worried about their income and at the same time prices are going up everywhere. It isn't the time to stick it to your customers with another fee and not risk losing them.

Like GoDaddy (0, Troll)

methano (519830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542712)

Are we still going to boycott them anyway, even though they changed their minds?

Re:Like GoDaddy (1)

amRadioHed (463061) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542738)

I've been boycotting Verizon for at least 5 years, why stop now?

Re:Like GoDaddy (2)

nikomen (774068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542740)

The problem with boycotting Verizon is that there are few other (decent) options available. :-( With GoDady, however, there are many other choices.

Re:Like GoDaddy (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542796)

If they were truly like GoDaddy, they'd publicly state they were no longer supporting the $2 charge, but wouldn't actually say they weren't going to do it.

Similarities? (2, Informative)

nikomen (774068) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542724)

This may be slightly off-topic, but don't some Satellite/Cable companies do similar things? I seem to recall a particular provider charging $5/month if you didn't sign up for auto-pay and/or paperless billing. The reason was that they wanted to save trees. However, the same nameless provider would send mailers at least a couple times a month if you canceled their service, thereby negating the the "tree savings." Seems like Verizon and other companies are just trying to make another buck by taking advantage of their customer once they've been locked into a contract.

Re:Similarities? (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543310)

This may be slightly off-topic, but don't some Satellite/Cable companies do similar things?

Can't speak for everyone but the local cable company here, MediaCon: It's free to pay online, but whaddayaknow, the online payment system is perpetually broken - so you have to call in anyway, at which point they inform you there's a $5 fee for paying over the phone.

I've gotten to where I just deliver the payment to their office in person; that way I at least get to bitch to a fellow American instead of "Bob" in Nagpur, India.

Standard practice for US corporations (1)

SD NFN STM (759426) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542750)

I lived in the US for 3 years, and this doesn't come as a surprise to me. Big corporations will screw you as much as possible, and the sticker price is NEVER what you end up paying. Internet is $20/month... plus line maintenance, phone regulatory fee, tax, something I just made up charge that sounds legit, the "I wonder if they will pay this" levy... it goes on forever! I laughed/cried when 911 showed up on my phone bill as a line-item charge. WTF?!?

Seriously, US consumers get the worst deal on the planet for most things... but it's sold as if you're getting an absolute bargain.

Personally I'm more than happy to be back in boring old England where things cost what they are advertised as, and I have *REAL* choice of Phone, Internet, Electricity, Natural Gas, etc.... and not just the city-endorsed (aka. "Bought and Paid for") local monopoly that is all too common in the US. The government recently outlawed excessive Credit Card fees, like when you buy a plane ticket and they charge you £15 to use a credit card when it only costs them £0.50 or something similar. At least our guys have the balls to stand up to big-business... when will your corrupt politicians follow suit?

Consumers, bend over, we'll screw you another way (3, Insightful)

kawabago (551139) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542768)

The entire phone system is wrong. Phone companies should be coming to consumers with ever cheaper prices for more bandwidth. Instead they keep finding ways to charge more for less. It is time for people to take control of their data needs and put cities in charge of data infrastructure just as they are for water and sewage. The phone companies could bid to manage cities data infrastructure within the limits set out by the people. This would put people back in control of their own infrastructure and take away the phone companies ability to over charge for service.

Re:Consumers, bend over, we'll screw you another w (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543150)

This would put people back in control of their own infrastructure and take away the phone companies ability to over charge for service.

And allow the governments to overcharge for service.

You mention water and sewage as an example. Where I live, add on a "runoff fee" to deal with that stuff called "rain" that falls from the sky and isn't absorbed by the ground under your house. And a fee to fix the roads. And a fee to trim trees. And a fee to fix sidewalks. And a fee for the bus system.

Phone bills? The local paper has a story today about a proposal to add a fee to the phone bill to pay for improving passenger rail service. Even if you never ride a train in your life, you are expected to pay for it.

Yes, government has found a way to tax the water you drink to pay for just about anything else it wants to do. Why would you expect phone service to be anything different?

Re:Consumers, bend over, we'll screw you another w (1)

QuantumRiff (120817) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543234)

Do you have any idea how much it costs to run a wireless company?

Just how many campaigns you have to 'contribute' to..
How many local politicians you have to promise 'jobs' to just to get tax breaks on your call centers.. (for 4 years, when you close up and move to a new location)..
Don't forget marketing.. Because a really great service and price don't sell themselves...

Don't forget.. you have to subsidize those phone costs.. and arrange kickbacks (err, agreements) to put certain software on the smartphones that people can't uninstall....

And we haven't even gotten to executive compensation, to attract the best talent around..

Sorry.. I'm too depressed to continue...

Change.org petition (1)

kvbeek (13734) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542782)

A petition on change.org [change.org] pulled in about 100k signatures in 12 hours, each signature sending a notification to Verizon's customer service department. It was authored by a woman named Molly, who also beat up Bank of America with a popular petition a few months ago. Massing consumer outrage like this seems to have at least some impact.

Standard for electric utilities (1)

michaelmalak (91262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542802)

From The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] :

Payment processors for power companies usually charge “convenience fees” of up to $5 for every payment made by phone or online, but cellphone companies haven’t taken the step yet. The furor against Verizon hints that they may have to wait further.

So, for now, you can continue to earn airline miles at Verizon's expense.

Re:Standard for electric utilities (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543130)

And yet I can't think of anyone else other than government agencies that do this. Accepting electronic transfers is simply part of the cost of doing business in the modern age, and companies that refuse to accept that will get left behind.

The only reason the power companies and government agencies can get away with it is that no competition is possible. And even they may succumb to public pressure before too much longer.

Re:Standard for electric utilities (1)

Ouchie (1386333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543230)

From The Washington Post [washingtonpost.com] :

Payment processors for power companies usually charge “convenience fees” of up to $5 for every payment made by phone or online, but cellphone companies haven’t taken the step yet. The furor against Verizon hints that they may have to wait further.

So, for now, you can continue to earn airline miles at Verizon's expense.

Most utility companies have a low percentage of online payments vs cell phone companies. Also, there are a lot of Public Utilities that for one reason or another have accounting rules that prevent deducting collection fees on non-delinquent accounts. While the surcharge on debit/credit transaction is not typically viewed as a collection charge, it is similar in the fact that you are paying a 3rd party to collect a payment and to account for this charge you would need to write down the original balance on the account in order to make it balance.

2011 year of the corporate fuck up? (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542808)

Netflix, bank of america, Verizon, godaddy, etc. Is 2011 year of the corporate fuck up? Is it that corporations are making more boneheaded mistakes? Or is it that people are not willing to tolerate these boneheaded anti-customer mistakes anymore?

Re:2011 year of the corporate fuck up? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542844)

Year of getting caught. These scumbags (don't forget Apple and any other massive corp) have been up to these shenanigans since, forever.

Re:2011 year of the corporate fuck up? (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542892)

they just want to see what they can get away with.

they try a bunch of different screw the customer ideas with the sole goal of having at least one or two of them stick.

why shouldn't they ? we no longer have a government looking out for us, and generally complicit with this sort of sh*t.

it's absolutely shocking that the FCC went to bat for the little people. easy good publicity I suppose.

Re:2011 year of the corporate fuck up? (1)

preaction (1526109) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542978)

Maybe some branches of government and some corporations are starting to see the writing on the wall. They may be starting to remember: Make the people happy, or they will destroy your ability to make them angry.

Re:2011 year of the corporate fuck up? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542954)

You'll find 2012 to be much, much worse for the corporations. To answer your question: it is, of course, a combination of both. Corporate arrogance and greed reached a critical mass where they felt more and more like they could get away with anything. This caused them to make numerous mistakes. The consumer is becoming increasingly aware of how they are getting fucked over and are not tolerating it. There have always been people that are aware, but more and more people are becoming aware, so we have a critical mass of people.

Both causes amplify each other and cause the other. It's not stopping, and 2012 will be much, much worse for the corporations.

Re:2011 year of the corporate fuck up? (1)

Ouchie (1386333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543186)

Netflix, bank of america, Verizon, godaddy, etc. Is 2011 year of the corporate fuck up? Is it that corporations are making more boneheaded mistakes? Or is it that people are not willing to tolerate these boneheaded anti-customer mistakes anymore?

I don't really know if they are making more bonehead mistakes or if the public is just not as tolerant. I think the most obvious indicator of this is the Occupy Movement.

now can we push ESPN to become like HBO and not (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542840)

Be forced as part of basic?

Re:now can we push ESPN to become like HBO and not (1)

Obfuscant (592200) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543248)

Be forced as part of basic?

Under Comcast where I live, it isn't part of "basic". It is part of the lowest tier of digital service, but if you want no-frills cable, you don't get ESPN. You get must-carrys and shopping channels. And, for some reason I cannot fathom, Discovery. And one of the two Spanish channels (but not the other).

As I recall, ESPN is part of the ABC family of channels, and you aren't going to push ESPN to become a pay service. It's going to be a "if you want any of X you take all of X" offer to the cable company forever.

Re:now can we push ESPN to become like HBO and not (1)

Ouchie (1386333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543356)

They call it the Sweetener, that is how they get you to pay for the must-carry.

I for one love my TiVo for that reason, you can manually edit your Cable Lineup. While I can't add channels I don't get, I can tell it that the shopping and other crap channels don't exist.

Re:now can we push ESPN to become like HBO and not (1)

Ouchie (1386333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543312)

I would simply be happy if the cable company would allow me to pick 30 or 40 channels for $20 dollars instead of charging me $45 for 120 channels most of which I don't watch.

I would gladly pay more per channel if I could just pick them rather than have 90 channels of crap and maybe 30 that I watch. If my area wasn't as hilly I would just get a good antenna.

They need more competition (3, Insightful)

Karmashock (2415832) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542864)

Whenever you see companies treating customers like garbage it means they don't have enough competition. That's all Verizon is telling us here. They're saying "you've basically allowed telephone companies to operate as local monopolies and so as monopolists we don't have to compete for customers."...

Simple as that. It's our own fault. If you don't like what they're doing then don't let them monopolize things anymore. Open up their area for more phone companies. Let other companies run telephone lines if they want in parallel. See if Verizon treats their customers poorly then... they'll be too terrified of losing them. As it should be...

Re:They need more competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38542924)

Simple as that. It's our own fault.

How so?

Last time I checked, positions at the FCC weren't elected, and both Democraps and Republipukes love setting up businesses that are 'too big to fail'.

There aren't enough sane third party candidates to affect change, even if people weren't stupid and third parties became viable.

Re:They need more competition (1)

CrimsonAvenger (580665) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543084)

Open up their area for more phone companies. Let other companies run telephone lines if they want in parallel. See if Verizon treats their customers poorly then... they'll be too terrified of losing them.

Umm, Verizon is a CELLPHONE company. They have basically the same competition everywhere in the USA - AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile....

Re:They need more competition (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543362)

That's Verizon Wireless.

Verizon is a LANDLINE company. They own the phone lines on most of the east coast.

Dear Verizon.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542874)

Suck it bitches!

Honestly ANY company that charges for online payments is ran by scumbags. Complete and utter SCUMBAGS.

It's cheaper for them to process an online payment than to hire someone to open an envelope and handle the check. They were just trying hard to be as evil as possible, A tradition at Verizon.

Bummer... (1)

ibsteve2u (1184603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38542940)

It was a right proper example of increasingly monopolistic corporations levying private taxes, too.

Re:Bummer... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543298)

You were hoping for bad outcome so you could prove that your political ideologies are correct? Typical. Now it's a perfect example of free market capitalism at work. See what we're capable of without government interference? Voting with your wallet is an effective tool. Corporations get money from you and me (and only when we choose to give it to them... the only potential exception being Obamacare).

Now this actually turned out poorly for me, as I use auto-pay. Now I get to make up for the money they aren't making here in the future through higher prices. The masses got their way, though, so this should serve as proof to the (incorrectly) self-labeled 99% that capitalism with minimal interference actually works pretty dang well.

Not the first time they've pulled this shit (4, Informative)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543000)

Years ago when the FUSF telecom fee expired (to pay for the 1898 Spanish American War) Verizon decided to introduce a new fee that somehow just randomly was the same value as the old federal fee. They backed down pretty quick once the feds got involved but for christ sakes like John Stewart said "BE A PERSON".

Why all the hostility against a la carte pricing? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543004)

A la carte pricing is great. It lets me economize simply by changing behaviors. In this case, I can save $2 by using my bank's online bill pay.

Now that they've changed their minds about this fee, you know they will find another way to charge us. That was never in doubt. But how they charge us might not be so obvious next time, and that means we may not be given the opportunity to save money.

So are we really better off today than we were yesterday?

Re:Why all the hostility against a la carte pricin (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543192)

Yes. This fee screws the people who can least afford it. People who pay their bill online or by phone on a one-off basis are usually the people who are struggling to pay that bill at all. By charging those folks an extra fee, Verizon basically said, "Screw the poor." To which I say, "Screw Verizon."

Sure, those folks pose a higher risk of non-payment. That doesn't mean Verizon has the right to discriminate against them, and it certainly doesn't mean Verizon is justified in charging them extra fees that increase the risk of non-payment. They're basically starting to act like credit card companies, and need to be dealt with in the same way that we dealt with them—with harsh federal regulations that punish such behavior. It's really the only way to deal with companies that are so big that they feel unthreatened by competition.

Wonder if it would work for TicketMaster (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543060)

Checked out their "convenience" fees lately? They charge a fee for printing out your ticket using your printer, paper, and ink.

Re:Wonder if it would work for TicketMaster (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543172)

I ditched those clowns a long time ago.

Them: "Ok, six tickets plus a ten dollar convenience fee per ticket comes to absurd amount."
Me: "Jesus. Ok, well, the six seats are next to each other, right?"
Them: "We can't guarantee that."
Me: "So I'm paying a $60 convenience fee and you can't even ensure that my seats will be together?"
Them: "No."
Me: "Then what's the convenience?"
Them: "You didn't have to deal with the venue!"
Me: "Then that's what I'll do."
(Call up the venue box office)
Venue: "Those tickets are (cheaper amount each), and we can guarantee that they will be together. No convenience fee."

Never buy from TicketMaster. Call up the venue directly for better prices, guaranteed locations, and no fees.

Corporate speak (1)

Knave75 (894961) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543090)

From the press release...

which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions.

The fee was designed to increase the efficiency of the online transaction. I have to give them credit, I would never have the balls to say something like that, which is probably why it is a good thing that I am not in business.

Auto Pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543124)

Honest question--How many people *don't* use auto pay? It seems like a horrible inconvenience to have to log in and pay every month. This whole thing may have been an attempt to help the customers realize that auto pay is an option (easier, AND it's free!). They probably dedicate a lot of resources to reminding people they need to pay, and dealing with late payments, etc. Customers who don't use auto-pay almost certainly cost them more than those who do use it (reminders, late payments, etc). So why not let the customers who allow them to streamline the process pay less? (because you know that the extra overhead for one-time-payments will be paid for by everyone through higher prices).

Re:Auto Pay (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543212)

I don't use auto-pay on my cell phone bill (not VZ but I can't imagine they're better) because they somehow manage to get it wrong every other month and it's easier to dispute it before they've received their money.

If they want to impose a late fee, they can impose a late fee.

Not surprised they are following the Credit Cards (1)

Ouchie (1386333) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543164)

I have noticed in the most resent changes to my credit card terms that late payments would be subject to a "Rush Payment" fee of $5.00.

It appears they are doing the same thing, if you are late and trying to avoid being turned off then they're going to milk you for another $2.00

how this works: (1)

nimbius (983462) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543178)

DELETE from TRANSACTION_TYPE where fee='2' and type='card';
INSERT INTO general_fees VALUES (2,'general telecommunications surcharge');

Uprising (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38543316)

We must unite and overthrow these morons. How you say? We need what they provide? Come up with something better and get the public behind the technology. Beat to death anyone who wants to make more than a reasonable return.

I will think consumers have had enough when it becomes dangerous to be a Telecom Executive.

Add Verizon (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543330)

Add Verizon to the list of "Corporate Miscalculations of 2011"

There Verizon will join GoDaddy, Netflix and Bank Of America.

To all of the people who pull the dodge of saying people can't do anything remember these companies. They were all read to dick Americans over, without lube, until ordinary people stood up for themselves and forced them to backpedal.

Hey Corporate America:
In case you haven't figured it out yet Americans are feeling squeezed. On one side everyone is asking for more of their money and on the other side they are unsure about their income. A quick way to piss your customers off is to try to gouge more out of them.

Use bill paying on line from your bank (1)

cvtan (752695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543352)

I pay the Verizon bill by having my bank, ESL, mail them a check. No fee from Verizon and all the convenience of on-line bill paying.

System access fee increased by 2$ (1)

Tyr07 (2300912) | more than 2 years ago | (#38543368)

That's how it happens. Okay, I can't charge nominal fee for an extra service? Well, I'm going to have my cake and eat it anyway. System access fee increased by 2$!

What? I can't charge a system access fee? Fine...All plans increased by 2$! Mwahahahahaha.

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