FCC Uncovers Mystery Fees inside Verizon Wireless bills, up to $90 Million in Refunds Expected

Over 15 Million customers will get money back from Verizon! This report seems farfetched, so we dug into the evidence. Our story comes from two reliable sources, an October 3rd, 2010 Verizon Press Release, and an October 3rd, 2010 FCC Press Release. The FCC broadcast "We can confirm reports of an FCC investigation into mystery fees that appeared on Verizon Wireless bills costing over 15 million Americans tens of millions of dollars. Reportedly, Verizon itself has put the amount of overcharges at more than fifty million dollars dating back two years.” Michele Ellison, FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief, stated. Mary Coyne, Deputy General Counsel Verizon Wireless stated “In October and November, we are notifying about 15 million customers, through their regular bill messages, that we are applying credits to their accounts due to mistaken past data charges. We will mail former customers refund checks. In most cases, these credits are in the $2 to $6 range; some will receive larger credits or refunds. As we reviewed customer accounts, we discovered that over the past several years’ 15 million customers who did not have data plans could have been billed for data sessions on their phones that they did not initiate. These customers would normally have been billed at the standard rate of $1.99 per megabyte for any data they chose to access from their phones”. Ellison says "The FCC Enforcement Bureau began looking into this matter ten months ago after reports from consumers about these mystery fees. Our role is to protect American consumers and give them a voice. Consumers have a right to receive straight bills and to get straight answers when they question them. We're gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers. But 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.” What will happen to all the mistakes that are not uncovered by the FCC, the errors not reported by any service provider, and never challenged? What about all of the mistakes on those wireless bills where services were cancelled, or provider changed, or sadly in today’s economy the business is now closed? The average person changes cell phone plans almost as often as they buy a new suit. Data lines change as new and innovative ways to broaden our bandwidth are revealed. Do you trust your bills? If Verizon Wireless was challenged for ten plus months to correct this issue why did it take them two years to correct it? Our challenge is to review all the various Service Providers telecom billings and ensure that any billing error is corrected and recovery is given as soon as possible. How can the public be aware of the various tariffs, taxes, contract compliances and surcharges? It is extremely difficult for an individual to review their cell phone bill. How can corporations and government entities review their bills? They have mountains of bills they receive monthly. They must understand and find the corresponding tariff for each fee inside of each various telecom service and check the contract compliance that goes with each fee. Add this to the fact that the fees checked last month may vary as they are constantly changing. Getting something back from Verizon Wireless for these small cell phone bill overcharges is good, but recovery was very slow in coming. There are thousands of billing errors in both the US and abroad. Similar problems are found with every telecom service, in every Service Provider, in both US and global markets. Why not uncover the rest of the story inside of all your telecom bills?

About the Author: 
Barbara Clements is the founder & President of Auditel, Inc., and Co-founder & Chair of Auditel Expense Management, India (AEM).