Verizon Denies It Charges You $2 Each Time You Mistakenly Press A Certain Button On Your Phone

Last month, David Pogue at the New York Times published a tip from a self-described Verizon employee. The employee accused Verizon of deliberately rigging its system to trap customers whenever they accidentally press the “Get It Now” or “Mobile Web” buttons on their phones–even if they cancel the operation immediately, they’re charged a fee of $1.99 each time. Both Pogue and the FCC asked Verizon to explain why this happens. Verizon’s response: it doesn’t, and Pogue and the hundreds of people who wrote in to confirm this practice are all crazy.

Pogue is not impressed:

Sorry, Verizon. That, in the newspaper biz, is what we call bull.

How about the 400 people who chimed in to say, “Me too!” in the comments of my original post? Are they all idiots? How about me? I found several of those $1.99 charges on my own bills. How about the Verizon whistleblower who has begged his managers to change this greedy scheme, and been told to shut up? Is he mistaken?

And if there’s no problem, and everything’s hunky-dory, how come Verizon has quietly been offering refunds of up to $100 to people who’ve been socked by the accidental $2 fees?

Pogue and the FCC also asked Verizon to explain why it recently doubled its Early Termination Fees for smartphone owners. In the real world, everyone knows it’s simply a steep penalty meant to keep customers in contract. Verizon is sticking to its nonsensical claim that it’s a necessary means to recoup costs of subsidizing and/or marketing, even though they still haven’t provided any evidence to back this up.

“Verizon Responds to Consumer Complaints” [New York Times]

RELATED
“Verizon Configures Phones So You Incur Erroenous Data Charges? (To The Tune Of $300 Million)”
“FCC Questions Verizon $350 ETFs For Smartphones”

Comments

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  1. Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

    Lies, Verizon, lies. I’m happy enough with my Verizon service, but if I do accidentally hit a mobile web button, there is NO way to cancel it before it connects and charges you $1.99. And it’s EXTREMELY easy to hit mobile web buttons accidentally.

    I realize this makes me a bad Consumerist for not fighting it, but at this point I just sigh and consider it the cost of doing business with Verizon.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      When I was with Verizon, whenever I would accidentally hit the mobile web button, it was always followed by a furious mashing of the red “end call” button so I could try to escape the clutches of Verizon’s data hounds. Alas, I usually got charged with the $1.99 anyway, and I would have to call immediately to refute the charges.

    • pop culture pariah says:

      Is it possible for your to remap the key? I’m not on Verizon, but I have a BlackJack II on AT&T, which has what I think is a similar button (MobileWeb, or some such nonsense) that I was able to remap by editing the associated *.LNK file.

    • brianguyy says:

      their service is expensive enough as it is. I think I’d be making a call to them every three months or so, to request a refund (or free minutes) as compensation. it’s not like they’re going to say no.

    • Cant_stop_the_rock says:

      You know those buttons are usually configurable? Assign it to something else.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        In fact, those particular buttons are not.

        • MyTQuinn says:

          On the Motorola’s W755 and Samsung alias that my wife and son use, these buttons ARE programmable. An LG VX4500 that I used to use had a “web” button that was not programmable (I don’t think any of the other buttons on that phone were programmable either). While the default assignments for the buttons on and/or around the d-pad are made to trigger charges on the account, I believe a large portion of the people affected by this are victims of their own ignorance regarding the programmability of their phones.

          • Mary says:

            I just went through every option on my phone, those buttons are not programmable. It’s a LG VX5200.

            Not all models are programmable, and not all people are idiots. Some people do know how to program their phone.

            • MyTQuinn says:

              That’s why I specifically mentioned two models that ARE programmable and one that is NOT – I realize that not all models are programmable. I believe readers/commenters here are well ahead of the general consumer with regard to technical inclination, and that the general consumer would not investigate the programmability of their phone, and many of those who would look for a way to avoid the problem would seek help from Verizon, where they would not get it – thus remaining ignorant. Not incapable of learning, but merely not having the knowledge.

        • t0ph says:

          I used to have verizon, and if I recall, the Get It Now button was always right where it shouldnt be, if I was clicking thru fast.

    • thisistobehelpful says:

      Good to know since I was considering permanently going with Verizon. Data plan of some sort it is!

    • jimv2000 says:

      Call them up, request that the cs rep block access to mobile web on your phone, and problem is solved.

  2. oneandone says:

    Happened to me – I’ve accidentally pressed that button, and later noticed a charge for $1.99. Luckily, my bill does not vary at all month-to-month, so I saw it immediately. Verizon refunded it and another weird charge (a few dollars for some crazy long data download at at time I knew I was asleep and not downloading anything), and apologized for the glitch. They were actually quite nice, and I got a corrected bill very quickly.

    During the same call, I asked them to disable that function on my phone, so it doesn’t have mobile web or data connectivity. They said they could do that…. now I’m not so sure. Terrible button placement, also.

    • Total Casual says:

      I finally upgraded to a new phone after 5 years of a phone with no internet capability, and accidentally transmitted about 50 kB by pressing a button on the faceplate-for a 2-dollar fee! oneandone, was disabling the phone’s web capabilities something that needed Verizon intervention or can we do it via the phone’s own user interface?

      • locakitty says:

        you can put on a mobile web block thru the handset by going to the mobile web area where there is no charge, unless you actually choose mobile web. you could try the website and going thru your bill and plan features and add a block there. the only way to truly stop any charges like this from ever ever ever happening is to do a 1X opt out, but that means no data transmission of any kind (pix msgs, etc). And a lot of the new phones won’t let you do that anyways.
        You should feel bad for the Alltel people caught in the migration, they are getting nickle and dimed like whoa.

      • oneandone says:

        I asked them to disable the mobile web when I called to get the charges removed; I figured they by default gave me the service, even though I have no interest in it.

        I haven’t tried pressing that button since, and have managed to avoid doing it accidentally, so I have no idea if they actually cancelled the mobile web capabilities.

        After reading what locakitty said, they may not have – I can still send/receive text messages and photos, so maybe my web capabilities haven’t been shut off. Looks like I’ll have to be extra careful with the buttons.

    • Bohemian says:

      Part of the problem is that in order to disable the hot key or button you have to completely disable mobile web on your phone. Then you can no longer use it at all. There is no way to just disable said button on the phone. On mine no matter what purse pocket or cell phone carrier it is put in, the button gets it because it is on the side of the phone and sticks out.

      • Difdi says:

        It’s too bad self-servicing your phone voids the warranty. It’s actually pretty simple to disable a button on most keypads these days, just put a little dab of tape over the contact.

    • ramfan1701 says:

      Something a lot of people might not realize is that you can change the shortcuts on your phone to help avoid this. Now, I’ve never had a blackberry or any other ‘smart phone’ so I can’t guarantee it’s true for all phones but every phone I’ve even owned has, somewhere in the settings, a way to change what button goes to what function, including the mobile web. It’s one of the first things I do when I get a new phone and I’ve helped a lot of family and friends do it so we don’t have to worry about accidentally hitting the button and getting charged. Now, obviously, it’s still not fair for carriers to have the charge this way, but changing the shortcut buttons can go a long way to helping you avoid the trap

      • henrygates3 says:

        Agreed, but sometimes they make it hard. I did it on my phone, but the instructions for actually doing it did not come with the phone – in the instruction manual or otherwise. I had to google it.

      • joshua70448 says:

        There is a Web button on the Motorola RAZR that you can not reconfigure. The only buttons that can be configured are the soft keys on the sides and bottom of the display and the D-pad shortcuts, but not the Web or Messages keys on the sides of the D-pad. Fortunately I’ve never set up data on my phone (and it’s disabled on the account) so it always fails with a configuration error.

        • TheGreySpectre says:

          The we buttons cannot be changed on the manufacturer provided phones, they can be changed on fully functional non manufacterer provided fully unlocked phones. In the same way, the Push to talk button could not be changed on my HTC fuze (ATT) until I flashed the phone with a new hacked OS.

          • jamar0303 says:

            Except that getting a “fully unlocked” phone onto Verizon is beyond the reach of your typical Verizon user. Just ask any Korean who tries to bring a phone from their own country to use on Verizon.

  3. onyxruby says:

    Verizon pulled this stunt by default on the windows mobile phones. They put a one click button on the phone that would automatically dial directory assistance every time it was bumped. Between my wife and I we were dinged $50 some dollars before we finally figured out how to remove that one click button. Verizon has been pulling this stuff for years. When we called them I only got one month’s charges removed as they did not believe we weren’t calling directory assistance all them….

  4. apd09 says:

    some how my blackberry storm manages to request balance info or minutes used quite often. I have no idea how those exact items are selected when the phone is used accidentally, but good thing I do not get charged for them.

    • brianguyy says:

      your statement is a reminder of ATMs my bank (and various others) have installed that charge you $1 or whatever to check your balance after pushing the requisite buttons (usually found at the same level as the Withdrawal / Deposit menu).

      or worse, charging 2-3x as much for a “mini statement”, which is really just a printout of the aforementioned screen. though they usually(!) warn you about THAT one, at least.

  5. mavkato says:

    I have a Verizon phone, and I have never been charged for going online. If i try to go online, it offers me the choice of going online for 24 hours for $1.99 or going to My Verizon for free.

  6. tatum780 says:

    I used to have the problem of accidentally hitting the arrow in the wrong direction (or similar) and ending up with a $1.99 charge for mashing buttons in a vain attempt to stop it before it connected. However, I read the manual for my phone and discovered that you can reset your smart buttons to link to different applications within the phone (other than mobile web). I have an LG and it was pretty easy to do – now all my arrows link to benign tools like calculator, alarm clock, calendar, etc. Hope that helps some of you stop this from happening!

  7. sonoforpheus says:

    I read this story at first and thought “that’s never happened to me.” I checked all my old verizon bills and can confirm that. I’ve had verizon for 3 years and I’ve never been charged a data fee (and I can tell you that I hit that damned button a LOT).

    I realize that I can’t speak for everyone, but I just have not seen this happen.

  8. azntg says:

    We need a revival of “Verizon face” again.

    In relatively recent ads that the local cable companies have been airing here in NYC, the “mother” of Verizon’s spokesman has been undermining everything the guy had to say. Think we might need one in real life too.

  9. keithsan says:

    Verizon is getting full of it these days. With Page plus using their towers and much cheaper. what else will they do to make a buck.
    Unbelievable,
    Penny Stocks

    .

  10. Geekybiker says:

    I remember my old ATT phone had a similar button, but at least I didn’t get charged all the time for it. Still its annoying they dedicate a hard button to charges you don’t want.

  11. psm321 says:

    I had an employee at a corporate Verizon store (not just a reseller) tell me that Verizon does this… plus hundreds of reports can’t all be lying

  12. shalegac says:

    Hmm. I wonder how many times I was charged without even knowing?

  13. stuckinms says:

    The best part about all this is that the FCC has asked Verizon to explain several of their practices lately, and Verizon basically says FU to the FCC. Can they really just pretend like there’s no problem and expect the FCC to believe them?

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Yes, because the FCC largely consists of lazy sacks of crap. They tend to sit on chairs a lot, and don’t make many decisions. Especially not decisions that favor consumers.

  14. larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

    I’m looking through the Verizon response (although I don’t think I’ll get through all 77 pages), and noticed this – “In exchange, consumers sign a contract that commits them to a term of service that pays for the device (and other costs) over time. “

    Doesn’t that sort of imply that they’re financing the phone? Wouldn’t that then invoke a heap of other regulations on them?

    • Bohemian says:

      But many of these phones are not being financed. I purchased a phone from Verizon for our kids to use and had to accept a 2 year contract on it to get it for $20 otherwise pay $80 for it. The exact same phone was being sold for $20 at Target as a pay as you go phone a month later. I would guess that many of the other lower end phones are also dirt cheap and there is no cost to subsidize.

      • YouDidWhatNow? says:

        Pay as you go fees are typically quite higher on a per-minute basis than with a contract, so you’re still subsidizing the cost of the phone…it’s just that the carrier has to make a guess as to how long you’re likely going to be using that phone to set the fee high enough to recoup their costs.

  15. GMFish says:

    That, in the newspaper biz, is what we call bull…

    And what everyone else calls a lie.

  16. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    I know that AT&T recently changed their service for mobile web and made it cheaper, but constructed it thusly that the consumer actually gets ripped off more for inadvertent usage.

    It used to be 1c per kilobyte, charged by the kilobyte. So that’s $10/MB. They finally lowered the cost to $2/MB, but they charge it in MB increments now. So that if you use 1kb you get charged the full $2 until you progress further.

    I like the lower price point. I don’t like the shady billing practices.

  17. keepher says:

    OK, new Verizon customer here. Haven’t even gotten the first bill but I can tell you that my hubs and I both hit the wrong buttons innumerable times. We did not activate texting or internet on the phones.

    When our bill comes in we’ll let you know how many times, if any, they charged us for hitting the wrong buttons.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      I don’t think there’s any such thing as “activating” texting – it’s a pay per use basis until you add a plan, or get it blocked. If you haven’t gotten it blocked and just instead dedicate yourself to not texting or using mobile web, you’re still going to get charged if you accidentally use it. It opts you in until you opt yourself out. Get it blocked entirely if you don’t intend to text.

    • CSR says:

      You don’t activate texting. And if you don’t have it blocked, and someone sends you a text, you get charged for it. When I worked at VZW a lot of people that called in mistakenly thought that if they didn’t open a text sent to them that they would not be charged. You are charged even if you never open it. So if you have no intention of ever using texting or mobile web, I would strongly suggest blocking them.

      I also recommend blocking what is called “Premium text messaging”. These aren’t your typical text messages. They are generated from a third party vendor. A common one is where a daily trivia fact is sent to your phone as a text message. The cost of this subscription is usually $9.99 a month. Most are signed up by opting in with the phone, but more and more often you’ll see where a company will have you sign up online. The one I was getting the most complaints about before I left VZW was the supposed IQ test. When you finished, it said to give your cell number to get your results. In fine print, in an odd color that makes it difficult to read, it tells you that if you do so that you are signing up for a subscription that will charge you $9.99 a month. As one of my customers said, the real IQ test is if you give them your number. If you do, you failed the test.

      If you aren’t going to be doing picture messaging, I’d go ahead and put the full data block on as well. It blocks the mobile web and being able to do downloads. This is what I advised parents to get who were getting phones for teenagers, or for older people who only wanted a phone for emergencies, or anyone who wouldn’t be using those features anyhow. That way, even if you hit the keys that direct you to the mobile web, it won’t connect. I would also either put the blocks on myself, or if you have a csr do it for you, check your account online to make sure they put all the blocks on that you wanted. And be fully prepared for them to try and talk you into getting a data plan instead–they were pushing us to sell data plans instead of putting on blocks when I left the company, and I seriously doubt they’ve stopped since I left.

      • locakitty says:

        this this this this!

        if i have to explain any more why people are getting charged 25 cents for every picture message (BUT ALLTEL NEVER CHARGED ME!!!) I am going to shoot myself.

        Glad you got out, I’m working on it and I just got in.

    • perfectly_cromulent says:

      i work in a Verizon store, and basically if you notice any of these things, go in and *talk* to them! so many people complain about this stuff, but they never actually go in and talk to us so we can help them fix it. we would be glad to help you out, and gladly help change settings on your phone or account so this doesn’t happen to you. also you can always call customer care to talk about it.

  18. jedsa says:

    Lies. Happened to my parents. I personally called Verizon to get those charges taken off their bill.

  19. Burzmali says:

    It doesn’t happen to me. I have the Samsung Intensity, which will go to the mobile web if you hit up or left on the central nav button. I actually end up hitting it a lot when I put it back in my pocket. I don’t have any data plan, but I’ve never been charged for data usage. Either my case is a fluke, or Verizon is at least telling the truth with regard to some phones.

    • Oranges w/ Cheese says:

      You probably have the data blocked, which would prevent you from being charged.

    • jesusofcool says:

      I just checked my bill and although I hit the button often ( I carry my phone in my back pocket) I’ve never been charged. But I do have the data capabilities deactivated on my phone because I know it’s something I never use and I don’t want to be accidentally charged.

  20. coreydean says:

    Same thing was happening to me.I noticed it late last year. A $1.99 or two charge would appear on my statement every month. I suspected what was happening was I would sometimes (accidentally) hit some button and it would connect to verizon wireless mobile web. I decided to try and figure out what button it was. It turned out to be the “up arrow” above my “OK” button. The up arrow was a short cut button…one I never set. This short cut was set by Verizon before they sent me the phone. Hmmmm, a short cut button to the mobile web, pre-set by verizon right next to the “OK button (the “OK” button is the most used on my style of phone) Verizon knew they would make money off people fat fingering the “up arrow” I tried to get refuned all the scammed charges, but they wouldn’t. Of course this was back in December of last year so there wasn’t this heat on them as there seems to be now.

    Everyone needs to contact their state attorney general and file claims. Enough and some action will get done. This is easy money for them to get together and sue Verizon.

  21. Lowxs says:

    Just the tip of the iceberg. An employee there told me how they charge customers $1.99 a megabyte just to browse their marketplace Get it Now application for things like music, games, applications. And if you find something you like, you pay for that extra. Can you imagine being charged just to browse their marketplace? Would you pay $19.99 just to enter a department store and browse their merchandise? Verizon and the major cellular companies are for profit only and the last thing on their mind is passing on the savings to consumers. They keep it for their shareholders.

  22. Zanorfes says:

    Verizon is not the only company that does this. AT&T is also guilty of this, and they are as bad if not worse. If you have ever seen AT&T’s phones, you will see that the main button, the biggest or the one in the center will start the internet. You will be charged $2.00 even if you hit cancel. There is no way to disable this button, and AT&T is in no hurry to change their practices. They say that the phones are made that way by the manufacturer, but what they fail to mention is that they are made to the phone company’s specs. Pure evil.

  23. tz says:

    It does or doesn’t. First, the bills prove it – there are charges for data. However I think if the “homepage” is set to verizon just to see billing, etc. you won’t be charged, or if you don’t have a phone that is designed for data (my glance will activate the mobile web but I’ve never had any charges, but I cancel it immediately).

    OTOH, I also have a computer and Verizon decided that the only way to charge the phone was via USB. Like on a computer. That will use a miniscule amount of data to create a PPP connection like retrieving DNS server and IP configuration when I plug it in and it says “modem!”.

    And there is no way to turn this off. (I have SMS and other things disabled so I’ve asked).

    I could repeat it now. today. And you could see the usage reflected on the billing page as soon as it updated.

    • oloranya says:

      You should be able to get a USB charger that plugs into a wall outlet. They make them for ipods so you can charge them without a computer.

    • jimv2000 says:

      Go into the Device Manager in Windows, right click on your phone, and click Disable. No more data leakage.

  24. Moiraine says:

    You know, this has happened to me and I have not been charged. Either I’m just that quick at hitting ‘End’ or there’s something weird with billing. I also recall reading that you can’t reprogram that button on your phone. Except that you can. At least I can on my Alias 2. I can see how some of the older phones might not let you do it, but it’s pretty easy to do on my phone.

    • pandroid says:

      Same here. I’ve had three or four phones with Verizon, and I’ve never been charged for accidentally hitting the mobile web button. And I don’t have a button on my phone that’s programmed in for it. There may have been when I got it, but I changed the settings since then.

  25. RunawayJim says:

    I was on VZW for many years before switching to ATT for the iPhone. I have hit the Get It Now button and the mobile web button on my phones many times and never had an additional charge on my bill. The phones I’ve had with Verizon were the LG Chocolate (VX8550 I think, the “new” chocolate, second gen), the LG VX6100 and the LG VX4500 (prior to that it was a StarTAC that didn’t have data features). All the phones had the Get It Now button and I was never charged for pushing it.

    Maybe it only billed you if you went further than the initial press, but I know I have and still had never been charged.

    • katstermonster says:

      It used to work that way – you were not charged for the initial press. Verizon changed how it was charged sometime in the last few years, IIRC. My parents and brothers remapped all their buttons to avoid it, I luckily have a Blackberry Pearl, so i didn’t need to.

    • brianguyy says:

      agreed, I always accidentally hit the Internet button on my Virgin Mobile phone while doing something else, and never get charged. this is because it takes you to a screen where you can choose to download files or use the other internet features, each for a fee. Verizon (I’ve used for work before and my SO uses) is ahem, “different”.

  26. rpm773 says:

    Are these real buttons on the phone? Can the phone be hacked to somehow disable them? Or taken apart to have the contacts scratched off?

    • eelmonger says:

      On every Verizon phone I’ve had you can change what these buttons do in the settings. No “hacking” necessary.

  27. MoreFunThanToast says:

    +1 for buying foreign unlocked phones that do not have such buttons.

    But seriously, that’s just scammy Verizon, shame on you.

    • bearda says:

      That’s a lot easier said than done with Verizon. This isn’t GSM. There aren’t a heck of a lot of unlocked CDMA phones out there, and trying to activate a phone from another CDMA carrier (Sprint, Alltel, etc) is never a sure thing. People seem to have the best chances with Verizon MVNOs like Page Plus but Verizon does seem to know was ESNs are Verizon branded and which aren’t.

      • jamar0303 says:

        Korean CDMA phones made for SK Telecom (part-owner of Helio before the Virgin buyout) work just fine. Plus internet can’t physically be made to work on those due to Korean weirdness so even if you push the button a lot it won’t connect and you won’t be charged. The text spam filtering feature on most of those is a plus.

  28. HalOfBorg says:

    Like my TracFone. If I hit the ‘web’ button, I get hit for a unit no matter what.
    And it’s barely usable anyway. Forced to use their crappy page, can’t go anywhere else.
    Unless that’s been changed.

    • katia802 says:

      It hasn’t. Got charged a unit the other day, pocket dialed the web button. I refuse to spend a small fortune per month on a cell phone I’m not using, but need one occasionally for my hubby’s dr. visits. Thought trac phone would be a low cost solution, it is, but I have to keep the phone turned off unless I’m going to call out on it. Otherwise, they nail you for everything under the sun.

      • brianguyy says:

        keypad lock will save you, just the same.

        • mianne prays her parents outlive the TSA says:

          Some of the phones by Tracfone don’t even have Keylock. My Net10 (Subsidiary of Tracfone) LG300 does not. Once had a 23 minute voicemail on my home line of this phone rustling in my pocket.

  29. nettlehill says:

    I was charged when I mistakenly pressed that button and I called to complain when I got my bill. Verizon refused to refund me. If they say this does not happen, they are lying.

  30. Extractor says:

    Was paying $99 per month for 2 VZ phones that only were getting 136 minutes per month usage. Just over a year ago the contract expired and switched to tracfone. Thats about $15 per month. Problem when terminated verizon was that VZ navigation was on a trial basis for 1 month and I cancelled but they continued to charge. Now I check all my autopay bills for crap like this. VZ didnt even care that it wasnt utilized or that I had cancelled within the 30 day period. If I could stomach it, I would file in small claims. NO MORE CONTRACTS for me. The wife got a Tmobile Blackberry that she pays for herself. Cant figure why. I have a notebook at both offices and several computers at home. i carry a cheap digital camera(8 megapixels) with my notebook. Why would anyone be happy with the crappy photos from even the best phone being at most 2 or 3 megapixels?

    • Geekybiker says:

      Well there are phones that have quite a bit more resolution than 2-3mp. There are also a couple that are designs like a camera with a phone built in (real lenses, etc). However the quality is normally really poor on phone unless you’re in really bright light or have one of the few phones with a flash built in. If you have a flash its almost worth it just to always have a camera on you. You never know the weird stuff you’ll run into. Also handy if you get into an accident to document the scene, etc.

  31. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    Tracfone also has these “one touch mobile web” buttons on their phones, that will ding you for 3/10 of a minute whether you actually do anything or not. On some of the phones, there is no option to reassign the button.

  32. greeneyedguru says:

    I don’t know what plan y’all are on, but I get charged $1.99 per megabyte, so yeah I guess if I hit that button once, I would get charged $1.99, but it’s only like 0.01 megabytes so even if I hit it 100 more times I’d still only get charged $1.99. I normally use mobile web at least once a month anyway to get directions or look up a phone number.

    • brianguyy says:

      fine if you ever use it, annoying if you don’t, or accidentally download or are erroneously charged for more than 1MB.

      but like others have said, if you reprogram the keys it helps…

    • Dutchess says:

      right, $2 not much…but $2 times how many million subscribers monthly?

      It’s a cash cow that has such a small price tag most consumers wont complain therefore VW keeps charging it and rakes in profits at the expense of consumers for an engineered accident

  33. bwicrab says:

    I am certain Verizon is in fact charging the $1.99 when you access the internet by accident. I never use the internet on my phone, as I have a seperate Blackberry. I had this charge happen several times, so I called them and had them disable the internet option alltogether. Since then, no $1.99 charges.

  34. CTAUGUST says:

    While Verizon did immediately credit me when I wrote, I have had this $1.99 charge occur in the past when I did not intend to start up the web. How they can claim it never happens escapes me. Certainly, consumers can produce bills showing it does.

  35. CSR says:

    I can’t believe they are still saying that it doesn’t charge you if it only goes to the start up page (which is the vzw.com page). Either this is wrong, or I had a *lot* of people lying when they’d call up about the charge. VZW had been telling it’s reps ever since they changed the data usage from being deducted from minutes to the MB charges that customers wouldn’t be charged if they only went to the start up page. Then, months down the line, we got the word that they had fixed it to where customers wouldn’t be charged if they didn’t navagate past the first page. I left in late September, and on my last day of work I was still getting those calls.

    Now, I’m sure that some of the people that called in had actually done 1MB or less data use and were legitimately charged, then wanted to get out of the cost. My guess would be that was pretty rare though, as most data users tend to use much more than that. Some were probably cases of the customer doing a single download, and accepting the download without noting the prompt that comes up letting them know of the MB charge in doing downloads, and honestly thinking the MB charge was a mistake since most people tend to think that MB charges only come from surfing the web. But I find it very difficult to believe that the majority of the people who called in had legitimate data charges. Plus there’s all the people who didn’t call in because they either didn’t notice the charge, or they figured $1.99 wasn’t worth the effort of calling in.

    Then there’s this bit from VZW’s response: “If a customer believes that he has been charged for such minimal accidental usage, he should call Customer Care, explain the circumstances, and request a credit. Customer Care representatives are authorized to credit the account, and also to explain to the customer how to avoid recurrence of accidental usage charges.”

    This implies that the customer will have no problem getting a credit if they call. In all honesty, that depends on the type of supervisor this rep has. I’ve had sups that had the mindset that it wasn’t worth getting a customer upset so to go ahead and do the credit. Most of the sups at the call center I’d been working at would say to do the credit if the customer put a data block on to prevent further charges. At the time that I had left, because of the economy, we were getting the word to avoid credits as much as possible. Not ones where we were clearly wrong (for example, a rep notes the account that the customer asked to have a text plan on, then forgot to actually put the plan on. In that case we’d fix it and give a full refund). But the $1.99 ones were a bit tricky, because how do you prove that it wasn’t a legit charge? I would check the percentage of megabytes used. If someone had a tenth of a megabyte, I felt comfortable that it was an accidental access and that I’d be able to defend my credit to my sup or anyone else if that credit happened to get reviewed. And just before I left, we were getting told to try and push giving out bonus minutes instead of credits. Which, if you tend to go over your minutes, could have some value. But for someone who always stays in their minutes, but just wants that $1.99 charge to go away, it won’t work.

    My suggestion, if you aren’t going to be using picture messaging anyway, is to just get the full data block. It will block MB usage of any sort, and is really the only way to be sure that you won’t get MB charges. However, it does block picture messaging despite the fact that picture messaging doesn’t use MB. Text messaging is still usable, however. And if you call in to have a CSR add the block, I’d check the account online just to make sure that the right block was put on, just to be on the safe side.

  36. Sinful Josh says:

    Wanna know how many people are getting ripped off by 2$ charges and “they didnt even call me the next day” ETF fees?? Theres a map for that.

  37. thisistobehelpful says:

    Refunds of $100 per what? Month? Year?

  38. j_benj says:

    This happened to me several times when I had my Treo 650 about 3 years ago. I vividly remember accidentally hitting something that would trigger a dialog box that said “Connecting to mobile web…” and frantically trying to cancel it before it connected. I was unsuccessful a few times before I called support and they instructed me on how to “block” mobile web access so it wouldn’t happen again.

    Funny how I didn’t have a data plan and the mobile web wasn’t blocked by default. It sure seems like they have it set up in such a way that if you accidentally access it, they get to collect revenue.

  39. kimmie says:

    Ugh, my parents’ AT&T phones have a similar button on the side that can be pressed while the clamshell is closed. They do not have a data plan, and several data charged for simply launching the browser showed up on the bill. I manage the family plan we share, so I had to have data blocked from their phone. It’s all a grand scheme between the hardware manufacturers and the cell phone companies :P

  40. d0x360 says:

    I know for a fact that round bandwidth up. They charge $2 per megabyte but anytime you use data they round to the megabyte. I used to check my gmail on my verizon phone and I figured $2 per megabyte is fine cause using the mobile gmail site runs about 100kb per check.

    Well I would check a few times a day everyday and expected about $5 worth of data charges on my bill. When I got my bill data charges were near $80 and it said I used 40 megabytes of data which I know is BS cause I would reset my phones data counter every month and it showed I had used about 2 megabytes in a 45 day period. I called verizon and asked WTF!? They told me everytime the app that is using data is closed and opened again it rounds the session up so even if you used 1kb of data it would count as 1 megabyte.

  41. soj4life says:

    If you press the get it now button, it takes you to their app store. If you use the mobile web without a data plan, you pay air time minutes. Neither of these is resulting in a 1.99 flat charge.

    • brianguyy says:

      as others have already mentioned, it’s $1.99 per MB, and you’re billed in for the first 1MB immediately. so that’s $2 right there, even by accidentally hitting the button just once (or a few times) per month.

    • perfectly_cromulent says:

      if you’re on an old america’s choice plan it will come off your minutes. nationwide plans charge per MB.

  42. mario says:

    Sprint does that too… they don’t charge $1.99 but the do charge you for the “data usage”, usually some cents for the fraction of KBs that takes you to cancel the operation.

  43. tutleman says:

    I wouldn’t argue that Verizon’s claim with regards to ETFs in nonsensical (which doesn’t mean I agree with them). For example, take the Droid. Let’s assume that the month to month cost of the phone ($560) is equivalent to the cost of manufacturing said Droid. Now, I’m Joe Consumer and I fall madly in love with the Droid. I want it so much that I’ll agree to a 2 Year contract. I get it for $199. Now, Verizon has lost $360 on me, dollars that they, as a business, need to recoup to stay profitable. Now, say I cancel after 2 months because I realize that I really want an IPhone (I don’t read consumerist and so I don’t know about ATTs customer service problems). If I paid the $90 a month, they now have $180 in revenue, not profit. Once taxes and expenses are taken out, its more like $75. They have still lost $285, they want to recoup that and they want to penalize me for breaking my agreement with them, after all, it is a legally binding contract. Now, they’ve made a $60 profit off me, which, while it isn’t as great as the thousands of dollars they’d make through the length of the contract, is still black ink. And, for me, it’s better than having to suffer with a Droid (Oh, the horror) for two years when I really want an IPhone.

  44. Carlee says:

    I have AT&T so I can’t speak for Verizon – AT&T phones have a mobile web button (usually right in the center of the d-pad) and it can’t be disabled. However, I don’t think it charges $2 or any flat rate, it is a per kb charge. I’ve hit that button a couple of times (okay, more than a couple) and have to mad-scramble to hit cancel.

    My parents keep accidentally pushing the button on their phones as well and though the costs are not much (maybe an extra 10 to 16 cents a month), it is annoying. I keep reminding them not to push that button, but unfortunately, it is also the “ok” button for a lot of actions. I had to call Customer Service to ask them to block the data/messaging capabilities on my parents phones (and CS ended up only putting the block on one phone, not both).

    At least with the Sony Ericsson phone (w810i) that I was using previously, it would prompt for a username and password – at least this would allow you to cancel the action and not be charged. With the LG phones, it doesn’t.

  45. Corinthos says:

    Same with ATT and their media net. If you want MMS they require you to have at least a pay per use data plan. Then charge you 2 bucks per MB on that payperuse so if you accidently hit any of the 10 icons + they cram into all their phones they you will be charged that 2 bucks since it rounds up.

  46. Corinthos says:

    Same with ATT and their media net. If you want MMS they require you to have at least a pay per use data plan. Then charge you 2 bucks per MB on that payperuse so if you accidently hit any of the 10 icons + they cram into all their phones they you will be charged that 2 bucks since it rounds up.

  47. Mary says:

    Well, we’ve been looking for the explanation for that $2 on our bill for the last few months. I thought maybe I’d downloaded a game or something that was a subscription fee instead of “unlimited.” Looks like it’s from where I usually end up using their web service to check my email about once a month.

    I can’t say if they do it automatically though, because I do end up using the web around once a month for a few minutes at least, so the charge is genuine in my case, though it’s misleadingly labeled on the bill. On my phone, “Get it Now” is different from the mobile web, and most Get It Now services do not require the web for most of their functioning. It’s all a little confusing if you’re not a verizon customer and/or don’t use the services.

  48. perfectly_cromulent says:

    you don’t get charged EACH time you press the button. that is incredibly misleading. up to 1 MB is 1.99, and it would take many pushes of the either of those buttons to equal to a full MB. also, any smart rep would ask you if these are services that you use, and if not, BLOCK the stupid features! no more charges then.

    as for the higher ETF’s, i don’t get why people complain about that in the first place. if you’re not planning on having the phone and keeping your contract, why are you signing a new one?? sorry but i have no sympathy for that. also, one of the reasons they’re higher is because it now will cost a person more to buy a phone, pay an ETF, then turn around and sell the equipment than it did before. it’s attempting to keep this from happening because in the past a person could make a profit off of this. now they can’t. it’s business, pure and simple.

    • RickL says:

      sir, you are actually incorrect. Per verizon wireless and my personal experience, each time a session is initialized, Verizon automatically docks you a MB, hence a new $1.99 charge each time. Again, this has been confirmed by Verizon and I have been charged as such in the past.

      • CSR says:

        Actually, they are partially correct. I worked for VZW, and it isn’t a full MB every time you sign in. However, at the end of the billing period, the MB usage is rounded up to a full MB. So even if you only hit the button once by accident and it only shows a tenth of a MB, it will be rounded up to the full MB.

        Does it take several browsing sessions to equal a full MB, as the poster you responded to said? Yes. But even if you only hit that button (or in some cases, more than one button takes you to the mobile web) once, it will get rounded up to the full MB anyhow.

  49. Crim Law Geek says:

    I see this ending badly for Verizon. If they are lying (and the evidence points to their being full of crap), they are going to get absolutely hammered by the FCC, the Justice Department, and stockholders.

    If they lied to the FCC, the FCC is going to go out of their way to lay the regulatory smackdown on them. They could block Verizon’s spectrum applications, mergers, and even their switch to 4G.

    I’m not absolutely certain, but I would bet that lying when the FCC demands information is a crime. If it is, the Justice Department could go after Verizon and whoever actually signed the letter criminally. Personally, I think it would be hilarious to see a Verizon exec going to Federal PMITA Prison.

    If Verizon lied about a revenue stream, that would be withholding materially relevant information from shareholders. That opens them up to a lawsuit from shareholders, as well as possible action from the SEC.

    Finally (and what I would bet is most likely to happen), there will be a heck of a class action suit against Verizon. Having lied looks really bad in Court. I’m sure in a year or two I’ll be getting a letter in the mail offering me $15 off a new Verizon phone if I can find a 6 year old bill.