Verizon/Alltel Overcharges Customer, Can't Provide Proof Minutes Were Used

Erin is one of those Alltel customers lamenting that her cell phone company, and thus her phone plan, were swallowed up by Verizon.

Verizon smacked her with a $448 phone bill, saying she went way, way, way over on her minutes. Erin called customer service and asked for a line-item statement, but Verizon said it couldn’t access the info and she’d need to contact Alltel, which just refers her to Verizon.

Her story:

I purchased a new Blackberry Flip phone in June through Alltel in NC with a 500min/unlimited text/unlimited data plan with the service running $105.98 per month. I received my June bill from Alltel and paid it. I received notification that Alltel was being bought by Verizon in early July (but I was already aware of the buyout), and then received my July bill from Alltel. It was for $448.61! My $105.98 service charge plus a $293.81 for 734.5 minutes of Anytime Overage (plus some taxes and fees).

The bill claims I used my 500 minutes of anytime usage, 734.5 over that, plus an additional 4200 minutes in Mobile-to-Mobile and Nights-and-Weekends minutes! That comes out to 91 HOURS on the phone! In order to have done that, I would have to have spent 3.03 hours on the phone every single day of the month, which I know I did not do.

Of course, I called Alltel immediately. However, since the switchover to Verizon had already happened, they directed me to Verizon Customer Service. Verizon customer service was at first sympathetic. The man I spoke to told me that because of the switchover, he was unable to see my line item charges, but he could print out a paper copy of the line item charges and send them to me. I got the bill. It is the same 4 page bill I originally received, with no line item information at all.

Today, I called Verizon again and spoke with Stephanie. Stephanie did not seem to comprehend what the issue was. Her attitude was “our bill is right and you are wrong, so you need to pay this full amount.” I refused to pay any amount at all with no ability to prove or disprove the charges. I then asked for a supervisor.

Wendy, the supervisor, explained to me that Verizon cannot see the line item usage from the period because of the switchover. She advised me to contact Alltel. I explained that I had contacted Alltel’s Customer Service line and an automated system transferred me to Verizon because I am now a Verizon customer. She advised me to continue to call Alltel and get the line item usage. She put me on hold “while we get some additional numbers you can try” and left me there for 10 minutes with no further communication. I hung up.

I would like to know what to do now. Clearly, Verizon is not going to help me. Is it time for an EECB? Should I attempt to find Alltel’s numbers on my own? Does Alltel even have a customer service department still operating?

I tried Alltel’s customer service line (1-800-255-8351) and it seemed to be operational, but it’s no wonder CSRs are trying to pass their problems on. Since Verizon is the big dog now, Erin may as well focus on that company and possibly its executive customer service desk.

(Photo: Eric Hauser)