Paying Your Verizon Bill With Cash? That'll Be $3.99 Extra

Employees at the Verizon store in Millington, Tennessee told reader Josh it would cost an extra $3.99 to pay his bill with cash. According to the employees, the charge was to offset the cost of “new money software.”

Josh writes:

Just a few days ago, I took my bill to the Verizon wireless store in my hometown of Millington, TN. I had just cashed my paycheck and my bill was due, so I decided to pay it.
My bill looks somewhat like this:

Monthly Access Charges: $55.31
Usage Charges
Voice
Data: $3.39
Verizon Wireless’ Surcharges’s and Other Charges & Credits $1.80
Taxes, Government Surcharges & Fees $5.44
Total Current Charges $66.54

So, I assumed that I would need to pay $66.54, as stated on my bill. I entered the store and waited nicely for about 15 minutes while the salesman discussed the merits of a newer bluetooth headset with a gentleman.

When I made it to the counter, I explained that I was just here to pay my bill. He brought up my information, told me how much my bill was, and I began to count out four twenties from my wallet. Before I handed the money over, he explained that there is a $3.99 charge for using cash. I held onto the money and pointed out that my bill was for $66.54. I also pointed out that I was paying in CASH and it is legal tender that Verizon is obligated to honor. The young man explained to me that the store had new money software. The fee to use cash was to pay for that software.

If I had exact change, I would have given only the amount to cover the bill, but I only had twenties at the time. So I left with an unpaid bill. I absolutely refuse to be nickeled and dimed like that.

So how do I pay Verizon in legal tender without paying for the privilege?

New money software? For what, the cash register?

Our guess is that a misguided Tennessee youth was trying to pocket $4. Verizon always places high in our personal bracket for Worst Company in America, but charging for the privilege of accepting cash is cartoonishly evil, and slightly beyond Verizon’s capable and experienced reach.

(Photo: cut paste)

Comments

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  1. nsv says:

    If only you had some way of contacting Verizon and asking them about it.

  2. mgy says:

    You would think Verizon would give you a $3.99 discount for using cash. After all, once you hand it over to them, there’s no backsies. You can’t issue a chargeback for cash, and it doesn’t take 10 days to clear at the bank.

    I’m with you. New ‘money’ software????

  3. rasbill says:

    theres something up with this, but anyway, i would think that if Verizon wants new software, they should pay for it with the profits they make, not charge more money when you pay your bill

  4. bohemian says:

    I think he needs to call Verizon Corporate, mention this and suggest they put in one of those automated cash payment kiosks.

    New money software, is that anything like sun spots messing up your reception?

  5. stuny says:

    Give them $3.99 LESS than your bill and tell them it is to pay for your new wallet.

  6. Terrminal says:

    Disclaimer: Not trying to absolve the store of guilt or blame the consumer here.

    I searched on vzw.com and found no listed store in Millington, TN, which means it’s most likely a franchise/3rd-party vendor. This means that they are pretty free to set their own policies on bill paying, purchase prices, etc. This is most likely the owner(s) of the franchise tryng to recoup some costs through any fee they can find an excuse for.

    Also, note that while cash is legal tender for a debt (the bill), a franchise is under no obligation to accept a payment to forward to Verizon. It stinks, but that’s the price we pay for having more stores than Verizon corporate wants to actually run.

  7. They’d probably charge you $3.99 for paying with check or charge in-store, too.

    Just about every phone company and utility I know of charges a “convenience” fee to make an in-person payment. Sprint’s was $5, if I remember right.

  8. huse0064 says:

    There is a ‘convenience fee’ of $3 for paying your bill in any Verizon location that accepts payments and it doesnt matter how you pay. however i am not sure where the extra $.99 came into play for this situation.

  9. houston2882 says:

    if all stores only took Checks and Credit Cards/Check-Debit Cards then the need for the crooks to hold up stores would be moot.

  10. rbcat says:

    Ah, it’s the famous “This note is legal tender for all debts public and private” argument. From the United States Treasury:

    [The Coinage Act of 1965, 31 USC 5103,] means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise.

  11. Silversmok3 says:

    Welcome to the year 2008.You now must pay for the privlidge to pay. What next,the gas station charges a $2 service fee per gallon to pay your gas with cash?

  12. pmcpa2 says:

    I believe cingular/at&a does the same thing at the kiosks in their store. In fact, I think there was a consumerist article about it. They have been doing this for a while… since 2002 I think when I jumped ship.

  13. TheDude06 says:

    the consumerist should do a seperate post about the ‘legal tender’ thing. Theres a lot of confusion about what exactly that means

  14. Lucky225 says:

    More Signs of Inflation :X

  15. epi117 says:

    I went to a cricket wireless store the other day to chck out a broadband modem , and was shocked to see the same thing, they charged an extra fee to people who paid in cash.

    i mean why rip off the people who can least afford it.

  16. donkeyjote says:

    @wesmills: Wouldn’t Verizon fall under the term “Creditor”?

  17. runpete says:

    @Silversmok3: Actually, just on the north city limits of Chicago there is a gas station that is giving you a discount if you pay for your gas with cash. I think they have it at $3.99 (which is a bargain in Chicago).

  18. rbcat says:

    @donkeyjote: Sure, but “legal offer to pay” does not mean “must accept.” You can make a legal offer to pay your bill with several hundred pennies, but they do not have to accept that offer.

  19. Joedragon says:

    flying J sells gas for less if you pay in cash.

  20. mgy says:

    @wesmills: In theory, could a company refuse your bill payments indefinitely and then send you to a collections agency, ruining your credit in the process?

    I’m not asking if it’s likely or even sensible to do so, but if it is technically possible.

  21. grouse says:

    @wesmills: The creditor (in this case Verizon Wireless) need not accept the money, but they cannot then sue for nonpayment.

    While “legal tender” arguments are frequently misused to imply that, say, a business must accept payment in pennies for a future sale (i.e. not a debt). This is different, as it is a debt.

  22. czarandy says:

    It’s actually not that simple, because the laws can vary by state. Some state courts have agreed with the “private businesses don’t have to accept cash” interpretation, while others only allow businesses to reject cash payments if they have a good reason for it (e.g., they are afraid of being robbed, or the amounts are too large to conveniently accept cash).

  23. Keavy_Rain says:

    @mgy:
    I’m pretty sure in that situation you could take the case to court and tell the judge that they refused your payment which is why the account went delinquent.

    Who knows what would happen then but it sure would be interesting. Oh, and if Judge Judy hears the case in question I would sell my soul to see it.

  24. AT203 says:

    @Terrminal:
    Yes, that is the first thing I did, check to see Millington, TN was a true Verizon Wireless corporate store or an authorized seller. It appears that there is no corporate store in Millington, but U.S. Cellular store is listed.

  25. oregongal says:

    At $3.99 he got off cheap. Sprint charged me $6.00 more for making a cash payment on my daughters bill and that was in the Sprint store, not a 3rd party vendor. Probably even more now. Vultures and vampires disguising as businesses. Shameful.

  26. Rajio says:

    Free phone service. Bonus!

  27. Phydeaux says:

    @AT203: And I can vouch that a US Cellular store wouldn’t charge such an asinine fee. The “money software” would’ve been provided to the store so that nothing has to be recouped for transaction fees and the bookkeeping the store has to do. Also, I’m pretty sure if a US Cellular agent did that, they’d lose their licensing, since it’s in their agreement to maintain a consistent customer service experience.

    The submitter is probably off by a township or something. It probably is a VZW agent.

  28. temporaryerror says:

    Im surprised that no one has mentioned this yet, but while you can pay your Sprint bill at all RadioShack locations, you can only pay in cash, and it is processed through a 3rd party billing service called PreCash. It cost $5 every payment, plus an additional $3 when you make your first payment. So, the first time you pay your Sprint bill at RS, it costs $8 additional dollars, and every time after that, it costs $5. I used to work there (no more, thank you!) and I always just told people it was a convenience fee. I think that the Sprint franchises do it the same way. (yet another reason to hate the shack!)

  29. temporaryerror says:

    just another reason to hate sprint. Oregon gal, did you have to make your daughter’s sprint payment through PreCash?

  30. donkeyjote says:

    @mgy: You could sue them for malicious harassment/tort, and breach of contract by acting in bad faith, probably for tens of thousands, plus the bad press. Not in a companies best interest (most like getting paid)

  31. Sam2k says:

    Re OP: AT&T charges $5….

  32. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    I will not pay some ‘convenience’ fee. It is a convenience to THEM because the bill is paid right there.

    I will certainly not pay some ‘money software’ fee.

    Take in a form stating that you were there to pay your bill in full, with cash (legal tender), and they refused to accept the amount of the bill as payment in full. Then when they try to bill you late fees for not paying this bogus fee, CONTRACT TERMINATED.

  33. witeowl says:

    (a customer walks in the door)
    Customer: Good Morning.
    Owner: Good morning, Sir. Welcome to the National Cheese Emporium!
    Customer: Ah, thank you, my good man.
    Owner: What can I do for you, Sir?
    Customer: I want to buy some cheese.
    Owner: (lustily) Certainly, sir. How would you like to pay?
    Customer: Well, eh, how about a little Visa.
    Owner: I’m, a-fraid we’ll need to see some ID.
    Customer: Oh, never mind, how are you on Master Card?
    Owner: I’m afraid we never take that.
    Customer: Tish tish. No matter. Well, stout yeoman, I’ll write a check.
    Owner: Ah! I’ll have to hold the check, sir, for two weeks before you get your cheese.
    Customer: ‘T’s Not my lucky day, is it? Aah, AmEx, please?
    Owner: Sorry, sir.
    Customer: Discover?
    Owner: Normally, sir, yes. Today the machine broke down.
    Customer: Ah. Traveller’s Checks?
    Owner: Sorry.
    Customer: Diner’s Club? Maestro?
    Owner: No, no.
    Customer: You…do *sell* cheese, don’t you?
    Owner: (brightly) Of course, sir. It’s a cheese shop, sir. We take–
    Customer: No no… don’t tell me. I’m keen to guess.
    Owner: Fair enough.
    Customer: Uuuuuh, JCB?
    Owner: Yes?
    Customer: Ah, well, I’ll pay with that!
    Owner: Oh! I thought you were talking to me, sir. Mister John Cheese Baker, JCB’s my nickname.
    Customer: (pause) Cash?
    Owner: Well, we don’t get much call for it around here, sir.
    Customer: Not much ca– it’s the single most popular form of payment in the world!
    Owner: Not ’round here, sir. So there’ll be a $3.99 charge.

  34. BlackFlag55 says:

    When the local office of US West (now Qwest) quite literally closed their doors and posted a sign out front that US West would no longer accept payments in person, I figured that the the apocalypse could not be far off. For pity’s sake, what kind of fool won’t take your money? That’s … the … whole … point … of … being …in … business. TO GET THE MONEY. All other products and services are a means to that One End.

  35. ByeBye says:

    @Sam2k: RE: Most stores don’t take cash at ATT anymore. but if they do, yup, $5 up front!

  36. Mr.Ninethree says:

    I’ve been paying this flippin’ fee since 2006(?)

    It’s absolutely rediculous!!

    Even if you call them directly and tell them you’re going to pay your bill in person, they tell you “they will charge you an extra fee to do that at the store” and I heard this just TWO days ago.

  37. horned_frog says:

    EPAY

  38. dweebster says:

    @horned_frog: DEpay. I just have my carrier deducting straight off a credit card (proof of payment, chargeback rights, points, ease of resolution) but I understand the situations where people won’t have this luxury.

    Setting up a storefront retail business where you can’t figure out how to accept cash as payment without further screwing the customer is probably why most cell stores have had to employ armed guards over the past few years. Don’t even see that at 7-11s or gas stations. Guess they must be putting that fee toward their “security” fund.

  39. xirian says:

    The other carriers charge if you pay at the register because there is an automated kiosk there that takes cash and if you are paying at the register instead then you are wasting their money by making them do something you’re too stupid to do instead of spending their time selling to someone. Ofcourse they wave the fee if the kiosk is down.

    If verizon also has a kiosk, then use that and quit whining.

  40. arcticJKL says:

    My isp tried that once. The told me they would charge me a $2.00 for paying by check. (I dont let companies deduct money from me automatically) I told them I would have to talk to legal council first since the isp had just changed the terms of their contract without my consent. They told me they would wave the fee until I was done talking to council.

    Im still not done.

  41. dragonfire81 says:

    I think several companies charge fees for cash payments.

  42. g4lt says:

    Carey, WTF were you thinking? This wasn’t even a decent rant about transaction fees. VZW charges for the clerk’s time taking your payment, SURPRISE! In fact, because this chump spent time whinging about it, they really should have doubled it. It has nothing to do with cash and everything to do with the fact that a clerk got involved, and has been that way most of the century. Use the fucking payment kiosk next time and qwitcher bitching

  43. LosersHaveCreditCardDebt says:

    Verizon.. cancel

  44. D-Bo says:

    @nsv: My thoughts exactly…

  45. D-Bo says:

    @g4lt: Your rant is just plain idiotic.

  46. Angryrider says:

    Huh? I remember my mom paying the phone bills this way as long as I can remember. The most the store charged was $0.90, about the cost of a money order. Wait, we’re talking about Verizon WIRELESS here… I hate those rat-.

  47. tli415 says:

    @runpete:

    $3.99 for a gallon of gas!? That’s dirt cheap!

    In the Bay Area we pay $4.59, for regular!

  48. kspray-dad says:

    In Canada…

    Go into a Bell Store (landline/cell/isp/dish tv etc) and try to pay your bill will cash…they will refuse.

    Pay for a cell phone from the same location or any services and cash is accepted but not to pay your bills.

    They WILL however, let you pay cash for a gift certificate which you can then turn right around and pay your bill will and get you change back?

    I don’t get it.

  49. TorrentFreak says:

    Get used to it, all the wireless companies find evil ways of nickel and diming you. They act like paying with cash is a privilege when they should just accept it and shut up. In reality, its the real cost of your bill added in. They lower the cost of their service and add extra charges to mask the real price so they can stay “low cost” compared to other wireless services. If you don’t pay their stupid service fees than eventually they will send it collections.

  50. danheskett says:

    TF– You are close to the bottom line truth: these big companies are trying to segment their market every way possible, and get every individual person to pay as much as possible.

    So it goes like this. VZ determines that there is an underserved market – the type of person who likes to pay bills in person. So they develop a marketing plan and a phone and a targetted plan to attract those people and convert them to customers. But to do so costs money, plus they tend to be cheap, so we need to accept slightly less profit on the frontside of the transaction. But they know, from various data bases and trending and demographics that this group of people while budget conscious for month-to-month expenses is impulsive, and has cash-flow problems from time to time. So, the perfect solution. Reel them in with a good upfront price, but get them on a payment fee when they need to make a last minute cash payment to avoid disconnection.

    It’s literally planned – all of it – by PHB months ahead of time. I’ve been there, seen it, been shocked, and now I just nod and grin.

  51. I don’t think they’re required to accept cash. And, like they REALLY care if a cheque takes 10 days to clear, the money just goes onto the pile. Like having to wait over a week for your $70 is a burden.

  52. treesyjo says:

    This reminds me of the vet who charged my grandmother an extra $40 for her to be in the room when they had to put her dog to sleep. And of course my grandma paid it because she was in distress over having to do it in the first place… someone explain THAT to me. damn vultures

  53. stinerman says:

    @wesmills:

    No, no, no.

    Our good friend is indebted to Verizon. He used their service and now he has to pay the debt.

    They must accept cash as payment. If this was a prepaid account or anything where he was not indebted to them, they could indeed refuse the cash.

  54. oregongal says:

    @temporaryerror: I have no clue if it was that PreCash setup. All I know is I had to get a bit snappy with them to even take the cash. It was then they told me there was a $6 charge. Most likely it went in someone’s pocket. Once again, for me and my family, its US Cellular FTW!

  55. FLConsumer says:

    @dweebster: Where do cellular stores have ANY security? The most “security” I’ve seen at the stores around here is a camera or two. If they have demo phones out, they’re either fake or have some sort of chain on them, but that’s it. No armed guards, no shoplifting alarms, no receipt checking at the door.

    I have a bigger gripe with Tampa Electric.

    They charge a $5 fee if you:
    Pay your bill online (check/credit card)
    Pay your bill over the phone (check/credit card)
    Pay your bill via automated kiosk (check/credit card/cash)

    They charge you NO fee if you:
    Pay your bill IN PERSON (cash/check only)
    Mail in a paper check
    Let them auto-debit your checking account. (doing so will force you to agree to cancel receiving itemized statements in the mail)

    I don’t get it. Paying in person and mailing in a check requires more effort (read: cost incurred) on their part. There’s no way I’d ever let them auto-debit my account, especially after their shenanigans in the 2004 hurricane season. (Since they couldn’t get to all of the meters, they just decided to send some people bills for 3x their highest-ever bill…auto-debited on those who were signed-up for it.)

    /gets on soapbox…
    What’s the deal with all of the taxes on electric bills (13%)? I can possibly (begrudgingly) understand such taxes on cable (13%) & telephones (15% on landline, 20% cellular), as those are luxury items, but electricity’s mostly a necessity now, especially in Florida. While it’s not mandated that you have electrical service (unlike trash/water service from the city), if you are raising kids in a house which lacks electricity the state can take your kids away. They’d probably haul you away as a nutter if you tried to go without.

    Still hoping to go solar here this year. Already have some of the wiring done. Still looking at equipment options.
    /soapbox off

  56. chartrule says:

    just go pay the bill at your bank

    i have no idea where the original poster is from
    but Royal Bank of Canada will accept bill payments without a charge

    i would imagine that the same service is available at other banking institutions

  57. kspray--dad says:

    @chartrule: RB charges $3 for payments from non-customers of RB and you must pay in cash. If you ARE a customer of RB you DO pay for bill payments as part of your monthly fee, as it counts as a ‘transaction’.

  58. Cacrazyeight says:

    Speaking of Verizon….I called Ireland twice recently due to a death in our family. At the time I figured I’d be “paying through the nose” but needed to make the calls. Called twice-one 20 minute call and one 28 minute call. When I got the bill there was almost a second death in the family. Total cost of two calls was $185! I tried to get them to lower the cost to something more reasonable. They said, “Sorry, the FCC sets the amounts.” I asked,”Well, who gets the money?” They said, “We do, of course” and gave me a Verizon consumer address to which I could write. I’ve written –twice–one regular and one certified–and so far, I’ve heard nothing. I’ve since learned I should have an international plan, or there anre other cheaper ways to call abroad, but unfortunately, I wasn’t aware then. Anybody have any suggestions?

  59. mike says:

    @wesmills: I’d like to see a store that only accepts and distributes $20 bills. I’d even be better if the store was a dollar store.

    $20 for a 20oz soda…awesome.

  60. mike says:

    @FLConsumer: Dude, I love the idea of solar, but it’s so frakking expensive. They are completely inefficant (30-40% is the best I’ve seen). I hope being FL would help you.

  61. MrEvil says:

    If it were me I’d just not pay them, sure they’ll cut off your phone, but when VZW’s own collection agents ask for payment tell them that all you have as cash and according to Federal law they have to accept cash.

  62. FLConsumer says:

    @linus: The big word with any form of home energy production is CONSERVATION. It costs so damn much to generate your own energy, in any form, that seeing how little you can consume is the only way to do it.

    Low efficiency isn’t all that bad for most renewable energy forms when you think about it. Unlike gasoline/fuel-powered generators, the “fuel” you use/waste is sun/naturally-flowing water/wind, which are delivered to your property free every day.

    The only area inefficiency of the source comes into play are the size of the panels / turbines when space is a limiting factor. In my case, I do have a limited amount of roof space where I can put the panels, so I’ll probably be buying the higher watts per sqft panels which are the more expensive monocrystalline panels. They also have the most stability over the the long-run. Most quality monocrystalline panels have 25+ year warranties on them. The cheaper polycrystalline panels aren’t bad, ; less-expensive watts/dollar but larger. Then there’s the amorphous/thin-film panels. Dirt cheap but total junk — MUCH larger than any of the other technologies and they usually only last about 10 years or so.

    @linus: I’m surprised they’ve not tried to do something like this at the airports or sports arenas or any other place where overpriced items are commonly sold.

  63. Bobg says:

    You’re kidding me right? This is a joke right? You mean that the cash in my pocket can’t be used anymore? I know that my cash is losing value but when did it become completely worthless. Maybe we’ll have to get down and beg them to accept our payment like I think that I’m gone to have to do to get my Verizon DSL working again since its been down three days now.

  64. TheNerd says:

    I went to pay my Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) gas/electric bill online, and was shocked to see that I had the option of paying $1.75 for an online check, or $3.50 for an online credit card payment! Forget that BS, I’m going to save money by choosing the 42-cent-stamp option.

  65. portiah says:

    Thanks for the info. Since more people are strapped for cash these days, there are instances of homeowners turning to a very old tradition of making a little extra cash by taking in boarders. Essentially, you rent a room to a person in your home,usually the home is equipped. It’s less popular these days when mortgage modification or payday loans temporary shortfalls are available. It isn’t always legal if part of a homeowner’s association and you should look into other options first.