Verizon Sued By Wisconsin AG For Billing Non-Verizon Customers

The Attorney General of Wisconsin has had it up to here (I’m holding my hand somewhere slightly over my head) with Verizon and has filed a lawsuit against the telecom giant alleging that Verizon was not only sending bills to people who didn’t order Verizon services, but then sent some customers to collection agencies after they refused to pay.

According to the suit, filed jointly against Verizon Long Distance LLC and Verizon North Inc., in the summer of 2008, some customers of telecom provider Powercom began receiving bills from Verizon for services they had not ordered. And even after receiving complaints, Verizon allegedly continued to send invoices.

From the suit:

When at least one of the improperly billed Powercom customers attempted to address the issue with Verizon North, they were informed that Verizon North would not speak to them about the bill Verizon North had sent to them for payment.

Click here to view the complaint [PDF]

It’s unclear from the lawsuit as to how and why Verizon would think these Powercom customers were to be billed by Verizon. We’ve attempted to contact the Wisconsin AG’s office for clarification on the allegations.

The AG is seeking an injunction to put an end to the improper billing, along with fines of up to $15,000 per violation and unspecified restitution for affected customers.

AG Van Hollen: Sues Verizon for improper billing [Wisconsin Business]

Comments

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  1. smo0 says:

    “and unspecified restitution for affected customers.”

    How about… 15k!?

    • PunditGuy says:

      How about unlimited data plans for life for everyone affected. That would really hurt.

      • smo0 says:

        I’ll go with that… since Verizon is going the way of AT&T and capping their data plans – this might very well equate to “15k.”

        Haha..

        actually no, I’m crying deep down inside.

      • the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

        Unlimited data plans for life wouldn’t really hurt as much as $15k per offense. Data transmission is cheap.

    • madmallard says:

      no way jose, that 15k belongs to the government to pay for….. the government… yeah, thats the ticket…

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    I like this.

    Dear states,

    Got a budget shortfall?
    Fear that raising taxes will get you bumped out of office next election?

    Fine the pants off of corporations for screwing with your constituents!!
    You get increased state revenue, and you market your campaign of helping out every-day citizens.

    For once, you’ll actually do the job your state taxes pay for, and your residents will be happier for it!

    • voogru says:

      Corporations then just price those fines into their services and the constituents end up paying the fines.

      Constituents: 0
      Corporations: 1
      Big Government: 2

  3. Tom Servo says:

    Can’t the magic invisible hand of the free market sort this out? If people don’t want to be billed by Verizon, they can simply choose not to do business with them.

    • SixOfOne says:

      I’m hoping there’s a sarcasm tag that goes with this comment…

    • Zeniq says:

      I am going to decide that you intend this to be sarcastic.

      …. oh hahaha the irony!

    • smo0 says:

      My second thought on this is – Powercom could be subsidized by Verizon? Were these people getting POWERCOM bills or just Verizon? Or Both?

      I need answers!

      I NEED’M NOW!

    • voogru says:

      Tom, businesses sending out invoices for products or services you didn’t order isn’t an element of the ‘free market’ because there was no agreement between the two parties.

      In a free market, both the seller and the buyer need to have a mutual agreement.

    • Difdi says:

      That’s kinda the problem, Tom. The people getting billed by Verizon DID choose not to do business with Verizon. And when Verizon billed them fraudulently, they chose again to not do business with Verizon. And as a result, their credit ratings suffered when Verizon sent the fraudulent bills to collections.

  4. the Persistent Sound of Sensationalism says:

    As a Wisconsin resident, I can say that if this is legitimate, it will be one of the few decent things that J.B. “God’s Cop” Van Hollen has done while in office. Van Hollen should be in jail himself, and not our AG. He’s been more than a little “anti-voter” over the last couple election cycles.

  5. GMFish says:

    It’s unclear from the lawsuit as to how and why Verizon would think these Powercom customers were to be billed by Verizon.

    The scumbags at Verizon didn’t think about the how or why, only about the whether. As in, whether they could get away with sending out a bunch of fake bills before getting caught. Any punishment the AG’s office gives Verizon won’t be a drop in the bucket compared to what they got for doing nothing.

  6. GirlCat says:

    “It’s unclear from the lawsuit as to how and why Verizon would think these Powercom customers were to be billed by Verizon.”

    I know how and why this happened: Verizon’s billing department is a disaster. I’m a Verizon customer and they cannot get their act together when it comes to billing. They bill incorrectly, they don’t deposit checks (!), they don’t process electronic payments correctly, and when you call you get passed around and around and around by–admittedly polite–but completely uninformed CSRs. No one knows anything about anything and they certainly don’t know what any other department in Verizon does. It is a clusterfuck of poor organization and inadequately trained staff.

    • kosmo @ The Soap Boxers says:

      However, sometimes after months of billing a customer for service that was canceled following a completely incompetent attempt to install DSL, you end up crediting the customer twice. And then, jaded by months of fighting to get his money back, the customer might decide that it would be pretty stupid to begin another fight in an attempt to give you the extra money back.

      I mean, in theory, this could happen. I am not speaking from experience.

  7. JonBoy470 says:

    Two words: Face Palm

  8. Bix says:

    They’re slamming? In 2010?

    Details on slamming: http://www.fcc.gov/slamming/

    • Difdi says:

      They’ve improved on Slamming, actually. Slamming is illegally switching service. Verizon has managed to bill people for Verizon services without actually switching them (illegally or not).