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11/29/12 | 14:35PM
Verizon Cell Phone Shock - $1079 bill

After upgrading my cell phone, Verizon Wireless required me to upgrade my texting and voice plan, but did not recommend upgrading my data plan. Two months later I received a $1079 dollar phone bill. After numerous phone calls to Verizon customer service, I sent the following letter to the Verizon regional vice president.

Robert *******
Missoula MT 59804

April 3, 2012

Verizon Wireless, Customer Service
One Verizon Way
Basking Ridge, NJ 07920-1097

RE: Verizon Bill Shock - $1079.00 on (406) ***-****

Dear Mr. Irlando,

As a Verizon customer for the past 14 years, I want to inform you of the unsatisfactory service I received due to the recent upgrade of my phone.

Briefly, the problem is: When I upgraded my cell phone from a Blackberry to an Android, the customer service agent had me upgrade my texting plan, but my data plan was left at 10 megabytes per month. The result was a February cell phone bill of $1079 rather than the $130 bill I would normally expect. You can no doubt see the detailed notes on my account.

In subsequent calls to customer service, I have learned that a 10 megabyte data plan is unreasonably low and is no longer offered, and that people with smart phones often use 10 megabytes in just hours or days. Plus, for an additional $5 per month I could have upgraded to a 2 gigabyte plan, which would give me 200 times more data. I also learned that training “feedback” regarding this matter was sent to the original agent who assisted me with the upgrade.

Last night the customer service person with whom I spoke told me that Verizon provides several ways for users to monitor their usage, and I should have set up an alert on my account to monitor usage. Believing myself to be a fairly savvy computer user, I spent 30 minutes at the My Verizon Wireless website looking for a way to receive an alert when my account usage or bill is trending over normal, but I was unable to find it. However, it was very easy to find celebrity picture alerts, horoscope alerts, or sports and weather alerts (for an additional $5 per month). It would appear that non-revenue alerts for my account either do not exist, or they are very difficult to find.

I asked the friendly Verizon Customer Service Agent why I received an alert in March notifying me that my bill was over $600, which naturally prompted me to immediately call and question the charges and to change my plan, yet I did not receive the same alert in February? I was told that Verizon is in no way obligated to notify me of any overages on my bill during the billing cycle, and that it was my responsibility to track my usage. Although occasionally, as a courtesy, Verizon does notify customers when they are trending over their usual usage or exceeding their plan. I found a similar statement on the Verizon Wireless webpage:

"Will you alert me before and / or after I incur overage charges for exceeding my plan allowances? Can I opt out of any courtesy alerts?
Verizon Wireless strives to alert you on or around the 20th day of your bill cycle if you are approaching, or have exceeded, your voice, messaging or data allowances. You can opt out of these alerts."

I believe a reasonable person would expect that when upgrading to a smartphone, Verizon’s priority would be to ensure their customers are on a plan appropriate to the phone they are using, and to subsequently monitor the account usage to notify their valued customers when s/he is exceeding their plan, or in my case nearly nine times my normal bill.

In comments to the FCC regarding measures designed to avoid bill shock, Verizon argued against the proposed changes because Verizon already has in place procedures to prevent this sort of thing from happening, as quoted from the FCC website:

“Verizon Wireless notifies customers that have either exceeded or are trending to exceed their monthly voice, messaging, and/or data allowances. Specifically, around the 20th day of each customer’s billing cycle, Verizon Wireless reviews each customer’s account to determine whether that customer has surpassed or is trending to surpass their voice, messaging, or data allowances for the month and, if so, sends the account holder a free text message.**”

** “A small percentage of eligible customers’ accounts are randomly selected to be part of a control group each month and do not receive the message. This control group allows Verizon Wireless to monitor and analyze the effectiveness of its outreach program, resulting in improvements over time to these processes.”

I presume I was part of the 5% control group in February, but not in March because I received a text alert notifying me that I was exceeding my plan. I hope I have helped Verizon improve the effectiveness of the outreach program, but it is at a considerable cost to me.

The customer service agents with whom I have spoken have offered me $250 and $350 in credit for my future bills. That is very generous, but in order to successfully resolve this matter I believe it is reasonable to have my February and March bills reflect only the charges of my current plan. I was told that Verizon Customer Service is not able to do this, but I need to contact you or corporate headquarters for further assistance.

I am appealing to you as my last resort. If this is not successfully resolved, I will promptly end my 14 years of service with Verizon and file a claim in small claims court for the amount I believe I was over billed. I would prefer to avoid these actions and continue my service with Verizon.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.
Sincerely,

Robert *******
(406) ***-****

Cell Phone bill Shock In Montana - Verizon H8er ID: B5A188



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Replies
02/21/13 | 3:12AM
Was this ever resolved?? Thanks

Anonymous - Verizon H8er ID: 22CE23


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