Verizon: That'll Be $2 For Not Making Long Distance Calls, Please

Verizon has a special new fee for you if you don’t sign up for a long distance calling plan. $2 for not making long distance calls. The new $2 fee is assessed when a customer with a no-frills calling plan doesn’t make more than $2 worth of calls per month. The News & Observer talked to one customer who’d just discovered the charge on his bill:

“Even though I don’t have a plan with them, they say I still have the ability to make a long-distance call if I ever need to, so I have to pay them $2 a month?” Bius said. “What am I supposed to do? Am I supposed to pay them $2 for no reason?”

According to the article there is a way to stop the free—you just have to pay Verizon to shut off your long distance.

[North Carolina] State regulators require phone companies to provide basic local-phone service. The phone companies have to give customers a way out of the new monthly fee — but they will charge another fee to eliminate the first fee. For instance, if Bius pays a $6.75 charge to have his long-distance access disconnected, Verizon will end the monthly $2 fee, but block his outgoing long-distance calls.

Wait, couldn’t he just switch to VOIP…oh hmm.. —MEGHANN MARCO

Not calling causes a fee [News & Observer] (Thanks, Will!)
(Photo:Jay Adan)

Comments

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  1. MarcAnthony says:

    AT&T DOES THE SAME THING.

    If your using long distance on your land line, go for another provider besides the likes of AT&T, VERIZON, MCI, etc. etc. Use a smaller local toll and long distance provider that will offer you a lower rate than what the other jerks offer, and most importantly, get off those ugly 40,50,60 $dollar bundled packages.

    Try using: Pioneer Telephone 1-877-492-6878, they are awesome!

    Use your cell phone for long distance! If you have one, and your not using all your minutes, why pay for the calls on your land line? Just use your cell phones extra minutes or free nites and weekends to make your long distance and local calls!

    Another way to save from using long distance on your land line would be by using calling cards. HINT: The best ones can be found at places like Costco and Sams Club!

  2. Buran says:

    Or just stop using Verizon. It’s not like there aren’t other competitors that aren’t so fee-happy that would be happy to take the money.

  3. chipslave says:

    Charging for a long distance block is not all that uncommon. I used to work for a local telco that charged $1 to put it in place. I guess I don’t see what the big deal is really…

  4. emax4 says:

    I don’t see what the big deal is either, but they probably thought that everyone else might think the same thing. Maybe they’re trying to get back some of the $30 or so that taxpayers received from their income tax statement. What if you have a calling card and dial a special number to make long distance calls on that. The calls were made on the same phone which you pay Verizon for (the service), so it shouldn’t apply. Basically anyone should use that line, even though Verizon can’t tell whether long distance calls were made from the calling card or not. It shouldn’t matter.

  5. QuirkyRachel says:

    yup, AT&T does the exact same thing!
    Except I pay $3.62, at least I think it’s the same thing. My bill reads:

    Carrier Cost Recovery Fee:
    This fee helps recover costs for providing long
    distance service including national regulatory
    fees and programs, connection and account
    servicing. This fee is not a tax or charge
    required by the government. For more information,
    please call the number on your bill.

    Current Charges
    Service Charges 2.00
    Credits and Adjustments .00
    Call Charges .00
    Surcharges and Other Fees 1.19
    Taxes .43
    Total Invoice Summary 3.62

  6. Myron says:

    I’m in the area and get phone service through the cable company. It works fine. However, with cable tv, phone service, and cable modem, I’m into Time Warner for about $180 a month.

    I wish I could do it for less. Any ideas. I tried pricing this with satelite, verizon and dsl. It wasn’t much cheaper.

  7. royal72 says:

    @Myron: not sure what all you’re getting with the cable portion of your package, but i’m paying about $130 a month with twc in san diego.

  8. kevinb7852 says:

    I’m not a big talker, so I dumped my landline years ago, have a cell phone with Qwest for just 200 minutes a month @ $30 (and no contract thanks to their desire to keep me as a customer for some reason) and use Skype for most calls. With Skype I got a deal they offered at the beginning of the year for unlimited calls to other landline or cell phones for just $15 for a year anywhere in USA or Canada. Bought a voip phone for free after rebate. Oh and use GrandCentral.com so people dial one phone number and it rings my cell and Skype number at the same time so I can choose to take it on my cell or if I am home on Skype.

  9. LAGirl says:

    how is this not a violation of FCC regulation?

  10. ShadowFalls says:

    @Myron:

    Well naturally prices can reflect different upon your area. I get all those services and pay $20 less as I get savings based upon getting multiple packages.

  11. getjustin says:

    Why do you still need a landline? I had roommates that insisted on one because, well because. I guess they alsways had one but we never used it. Anytime someone called it was on a cell. I had other friends who wanted a house phone, so they added a line to their cell for %10 a month. Now, I know there might be some reason, but think about it.

  12. Brian Gee says:

    Qwest does the same thing, but I recall it’s $5. I have a phone line because my house alarm system needs it. Brinks doesn’t have an internet option.

    $5 beats the hell out of the $25/unlimited-long-distance plan I used to have and never used. I asked if I could just not have long distance, but they don’t allow it.

    I hooked up a multifunction printer/fax to my land line, so if anyone does call it, they get a fax tone. Eventually they learn to stop calling.

  13. Nighthawk Foo says:

    I just dropped my Verizon long distance because of this. We use VOIP for all our LD calls anyway.

  14. roamer1 says:

    Two words for the wise: “no PIC”. (This removes the “default” LD carrier but still allows use of 101-xxxx dialarounds and of course calling cards with local or 8xx numbers.)

  15. jwissick says:

    Just get VOIP? No thanks. I want my phone to work in a power outage. I want 911 to know my address when I call. When my net goes out, I want to be able to call the phone company to tell them to come fix it.

    VOIP has too many drawbacks to be useful yet.

  16. othium says:

    I have had no trouble using VOIP. I recognize the drawbacks you mention, but I am on a pretty tight budget and paying $53 for a year of local and long distance works very well for me. I keep a prepaid cell phone charged in case of emergencies or when traveling long distance.

  17. crankymediaguy says:

    How much do they charge not to have a Verizon account at all?

  18. rten says:

    It may vary by the area of the country, most phone companies market “phone service” or “phone packages”. Ask for dial tone; it is not the same as phone service, it’s a legal difference. I pay $5.85 for dial tone, but I don’t have “phone service”. In Pennsylvania Verizon markets the dial tone as “metered rate access”. I add on Qwest 300 mins of instate/toll/state to state long distance for $8, my bill is about $24 total for all my calling I make in a month. YMMV

  19. orielbean says:

    What really sucks is that the cable companies doing the VOIP service are charging almost as much as verizon does for the land line. What a joke. No choice at all! I don’t even have a home phone anymore…

    I did have vonage before, and it worked okay. Of course, I was using Charter for the broadband connection, so the service was abhorrent. They are a a terrible cable company. I have no complaints on Comcast, except for the goddamn clicky ad that they stuck in my channel guide.

  20. atrixe says:

    I have a landline despite the fact that there is not a single phone-jack in my house (no joke, the last owner forgot about them when they renovated). Why pay for the phone line? Because my home security system needs a reliable dial tone in order to function.

    I live in Philadelphia, and signed up for basic dial tone service with Verizon, which came to only about $12 a month. Until recently, that is.

    I too got hit with the $2 fee for not making any calls using the long-distance plan I never signed up for in the first place. They also charged me $1 for not making any phone calls using their Sensible Minute plan, which I also did not sign up for. Oh, and I almost forgot about the charges for a third-party service called Value Link Plus, which somehow got added to my account.

    I was able to cancel all of the services without being charged, however. What bothered me was not really the extra fees but the fact that three services were added to my account without my permission.

    I had a block placed on the line to hopefully prevent this from occurring again, but of course it took a painful call to customer service to get all of this done. The CSR kept telling me why I needed the services and I kept telling her that the only way I can use my phone line to make calls is to go outside and plug a phone into the NID box.

    Thanks, but I’d rather use my cell phone, which happens to be Verizon Wireless.

  21. @getjustin: “Why do you still need a landline?”

    To call 911.

    Which depends a lot on your local emergency services, your living situation (kids or elderly parents at home?), how far you are from the hospital, etc.

    My area doesn’t have e911 at all yet (and I understand it’s a little dodgy in places they do have it because they can’t pinpoint you) and I’m only limitedly certain of my ability to accurately locate the ER in an emergency.

    We get our high-speed internet as DSL, though (local cable internet costs more and sucks rocks), so we’d be paying the line fee and so forth anyway. (We pay 50 cents a month for our calling plan — plus all the fees and taxes — which allows us to make 30 non-emergency local calls per month. I maybe make two.) If we switched to cable internet I’d have to seriously think about whether we needed a phone at all, but for now I”m more comfortable with having one.

  22. SarraJK says:

    I had a similar issue with AT&T and Bellsouth. I was previously on a cheap AT&T long distance plan, which I did not use (I use my cell phone for my few long distance calls).

    I got a notice that from AT&T which stated that if I didn’t use $5 worth of long distance in a month I would incur a $5 charge. I called AT&T to try to switch plans, but their heavily accented CSR was worthless.

    I then called Bellsouth instead and for a one time charge of approximately $5 I had long distance turned off completely. The locally based Bellsouth CSR was very helpful.

    I figured paying $5 once was better than paying $5 every month.

    I’ve considered switching to VOIP, but my cable internet service/electricity service is too spotty to rely on for telephone service. I’ve never had a service outage with Bellsouth in the 7+ years I’ve been a customer.

  23. Charles Duffy says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: 911? Big deal!

    No, really. I have a cell phone, and I have neighbors. For most emergencies, the cell phone will work — and if I can wait the 5 minutes it’ll take for the emergency service personnel to actually show up (in a serious emergency — much longer than that otherwise), the 15 seconds it takes for me to read out my address isn’t exactly something to worry about.

    For emergencies where an immediate response is required, 911 is useless anyhow. For emergencies where a prompt response is required, e911 doesn’t add enough value to be a factor worth considering.

  24. TPK says:

    Well the got the “money for nothing” part down pat… do they get their “chicks for free” too?

  25. Trai_Dep says:

    This is similar to the fee that BofA tries to charge customers if they don’t have “enough” finance charges.

    Where to these people get off on unilaterally deciding, “you’re not paying enough so we’re going to invent meaningless fees”?

    I’d add Working Assets as a long distance carrier as well. They’re cheap and they donate a big chunk o’ change to progressive charities. And they work great!

    > DUMP Verizon Long Distance. Or you’re a fool

  26. PowderKeg says:

    I just called this morning and cancelled. According to the first LD rep I spoke to, she could cancel the Verizon Long Distance plan and subsequently the $2.25 charge, but if I or my flatmate were to call a long distance number, I could be charged “really high rates” by other phone companies.

    After hearing that, I just opted to cancel the landline completely. Vonage and a cell phone will do for now.

    Other details:
    – Offered $10 off my bill for the next 3 months to stay on.
    – 30 days of call forwarding is free
    – An additional 4 months of call forwarding from the old number to a new one would cost $20 / mo (which is more expensive than a full VOIP line)

  27. Lordstrom says:

    Besides the DSL, the other reason to have landline is to curtail the $6 fee Dish charges when the receiver isn’t connected to a phone line at all times.

  28. Nytmare says:

    I have a Verizon LD plan with no monthly fee while the per-minute charge is 25 cents, because I rarely call long distance. There’s no $2.00 charge on my most recent bill but if they add it to the next one, that amounts to altering our deal and I won’t accept it.

  29. katzistan says:

    I discovered this charge on my Verizon bill this month as well. We never use our landline – only have it because it makes DSL cheaper. So, I call Verizon to inquire, only to get cut off by their automated voice system EVERY TIME it said it was going to transfer me to a billing representative. This infuriated me – how does the phone company not have a phone system that works??

    Anyway, finally got in touch through e-mail. They called me, and transferred me back to that system. Got in touch by e-mail again and explained the whole thing, saying they’d informed me about it on my last bill – of course, I hadn’t noticed. They said they’d be happy to remove the charge and cancel my Verizon long distance service. They didn’t mention anything about a charge for cancelling.

  30. puka_pai says:

    Likewise, we keep a landline for our Dish box. We pay about $12 a month for metered service to SWBell (or whatever it’s called this month) which gives us 25 outgoing calls and all the incoming we want. A couple of months ago when I reviewed the bill, I noticed that $3.62 charge, too. Called them up, raised a little hell, and they not only dropped it but credited us back for the 6 months we had been charged before I caught it.