It has just been announced that over the last several years Verizon have been billing millions of customers for data usage in unfair circumstances. It appears that these were customers without data plans whose phones contained software that occasionally connected to the internet without the users consent. Often this was caused by customers accidentally hitting the 'internet button' on a cell phone and then immediately closing the window.
Without a data plan in place, this resulted in minor charges for the customers involved eventually building up over time to several dollars per customer. Verizon have announced that most customers affected by this will be receiving $2-$6 credited to their accounts or else if they are no longer with Verizon they will be sent checks in the mail.
Whilst for individual users the amount refunded isn't all that significant, given that Verizon have said this could affect up to 15million customers it appears that this will end up costing them quite a large sum of money once this is over.
In a press release explaining this situation Verizon said that: “Verizon Wireless values our customer relationships and we always want to do the right thing for our customers.”
However according to the New York Times, Verizon have known about this issue for quite some time and it would appear they are only issuing the refunds after hundreds of complaints and significant pressure being applied from the FCC. To quote the FCC Enforcement Chief Michele Ellison, “ questions remain as to why it took Verizon two years to reimburse its customers and why greater disclosure and other corrective actions did not come much, much sooner”
In light of this condemnation, for some cell phone users the unexpected dollars credited to their account might be a pleasant surprise, for others however this will only add to Verizon's poor reputation when it comes to looking after their customers.