Make us your home page
Instagram

Verizon to refund customers at least $53 million for 'mystery' data fees

WASHINGTON — Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay at least $53 million to customers who were charged "mystery" fees for data and will take steps to make its bills easier to read, the federal government said Thursday.

Verizon will also pay a $25 million fine to the U.S. Treasury.

New York-based Verizon, the nation's largest wireless phone carrier, was accused of overcharging up to 15 million customers as far back as 2007.

The fees were typically assessed to subscribers without monthly data plans, who are required to pay $1.99 per megabyte. Those customers will now receive refunds.

"Today's consent decree sends a clear message to American consumers: The FCC has got your back," Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski said. "People shouldn't find mystery fees when they open their phone bills — and they certainly shouldn't have to pay for services they didn't want and didn't use."

The FCC said the mystery fees were triggered by applications built into phones, such as games, or involved "unwanted data transfers." Some customers also were charged for accessing supposedly free sites, such as the Verizon Wireless home page.

To prevent similar problems, the FCC will require Verizon to offer customers a way to block their devices from seeking access to data without their permission. In addition, subscribers would be granted a speedy appeals process to fight bills they view as unfair.

Verizon Wireless leads the industry with 93.2 million customers, just ahead of AT&T, which has 92.8 million customers.

Verizon to refund customers at least $53 million for 'mystery' data fees 10/28/10 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:32pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, MarketWatch.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. In advertising, marketing diversity needs a boost in Tampa Bay, nationally

    Business

    TAMPA — Trimeka Benjamin was focused on a career in broadcast journalism when she entered Bethune-Cookman University.

    From left, Swim Digital marketing owner Trimeka Benjamin discusses the broad lack of diversity in advertising and marketing with 22 Squared copywriter Luke Sokolewicz, University of Tampa advertising/PR professor Jennifer Whelihan, Rumbo creative director George Zwierko and Nancy Vaughn of the White Book Agency. The group recently met at The Bunker in Ybor City.
  2. Tampa Club president seeks assessment fee from members

    News

    TAMPA — The president of the Tampa Club said he asked members last month to pay an additional assessment fee to provide "additional revenue." However, Ron Licata said Friday that the downtown business group is not in a dire financial situation.

    Ron Licata, president of the Tampa Club in downtown Tampa. [Tampa Club]
  3. Under Republican health care bill, Florida must make up $7.5 billion

    Markets

    If a Senate bill called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 becomes law, Florida's government would need to make up about $7.5 billion to maintain its current health care system. The bill, which is one of the Republican Party's long-promised answers to the Affordable Care Act imposes a cap on funding per enrollee …

    Florida would need to cover $7.5 billion to keep its health care program under the Republican-proposed Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.  [Times file photo]
  4. Amid U.S. real estate buying binge by foreign investors, Florida remains first choice

    Real Estate

    Foreign investment in U.S. residential real estate recently skyrocketed to a new high with nearly half of all foreign sales happening in Florida, California and Texas.

    A National Association of Realtors annual survey found record volume and activity by foreign buyers of U.S. real estate. Florida had the highest foreign investment activity, followed by California and Texas. [National Association of Realtors]
  5. Trigaux: Tampa Bay health care leaders wary of getting too far ahead in disruptive times

    Business

    Are attempts to repeal Obamacare dead for the foreseeable future? Might the Affordable Care Act (ACA), now in dire limbo, be revived? Will Medicaid coverage for the most in need be gutted? Can Republicans now in charge of the White House, Senate and House ever agree to deliver a substitute health care plan that people …

    Natalia Ricabal of Lutz, 12 years old, joined other pediatric cancer patients in Washington in July to urge Congress to protect Medicaid coverage that helped patients like Ricabal fight cancer. She was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2013 and has undergone extensive treatments at BayCare's St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa. [Courtesy of BayCare]