January 1, 2012

Customer Backlash Causes Verizon To Axe Online Bill Fees

One day after announcing plans to charge a $2 fee for those who paid their bills online or by telephone, Verizon Wireless has reversed its decision following a massive outcry from customers.

"Verizon Wireless has decided it will not institute the fee for online or telephone single payments that was announced earlier this week," the company announced in a December 30 press release. They added that they had "made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions."

Verizon, the largest wireless service provider in the U.S., said that they would encourage clients "to take advantage of the numerous simple and convenient payment methods it provides."

"At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers," Verizon Wireless President and CEO Dan Mean added in a statement Friday. "Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time."

The fee for one-time payments was to have begun on January 15, according to Sinead Carew of Reuters, and was designed to encourage clients to pay their bills via alternative methods, including an autopay program in which Verizon would be authorized to charge an individual's credit card or bank account directly each month.

As New York Times writer Ron Lieber reported on December 30, the customer backlash "cascaded across Twitter and onto blogs and petitions all around the Web, struck a chord with a company that was clearly not expecting it."

"What was surprising about the Verizon Wireless rollback was how quickly it occurred," Lieber added. "It took consumers about a month to persuade Bank of America to rescind its plan to charge a $5 monthly fee to people who used their debit card for purchases."

"But with Verizon Wireless, the corporate change of heart took only a day, even though it is the week after Christmas when companies often drop bad news in the hope that fewer people are paying attention," the New York Times reporter also said.


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