Verizon: "No, We Won't Suspend Service," Suspends Service

Verizon accidently charged Michelle $480 for nights and weekends that should have been free; correcting the problem was a nightmare. Michelle worried the erroneous charges would be deducted from her account through Verizon’s autopay. Verizon told her to cancel autopay and assured her no money would be withdrawn, even though her online account showed a pending charge. Two days later, worried about the charge that was still pending, Michelle tried to stop the payment through Verizon; she was referred her to the bank, which promptly sent her back to Verizon.

Verizon told Michelle it was impossible for the charge to go through since she had cancelled autopay. Michelle asked for a supervisor but the CSR was “VERY certain” there would be no charge until the problem was resolved.

Verizon charges Michelle, inside…

Verizon charged Michelle $480 while she was home for Christmas. Isn’t that kind? Michelle called again. Verizon refused to do anything and couldn’t explain how she was charged. A supervisor offered her a $500 credit while she appealed the charge, but cautioned “that in his experience they always refuse to refund the money.”

Michelle convinced her bank to reverse the charge, so Verizon suspended her account. Verizon assured Michelle that her account wasn’t suspended and that the billing error had been resolved. A quick check of the online account showed Verizon had slapped Michelle with a $25 NSF fee. Michelle went to call Verizon again, but before she could, they suspended her account again.

Michelle’s email, below.

So the story begins with my November Verizon Wireless bill. My bills usually come out to about $50 each month, so imagine my surprise (and horror) when I see that this month my charges amount to $480.19. Turns out that they had randomly started charging me that ridiculous .45/minute overage fee for my “free” night & weekend minutes.

I called their customer service and the guy filed whatever form he had to file so I could get a bill with the right amount on it. In the meantime, he told me to cancel my bill Autopay so that it wouldn’t pull the $480 from my checking account. I told him that my online account said that the payment date was too close to today and that I couldn’t reverse the charge and it was already “pending.” He said that on his end, there were no pending payments and nothing was coming up on my account. So fine, I completely de-enroll from Autopay.

A day or two later, I notice that my online account is still showing a pending payment even though I wasn’t in Autopay anymore. In fact, my online account says that if I want to stop the payment from going through, I’d have to call my bank to put a stop on it. So I call my bank and they tell me that there’s a $30 charge to stop a payment and that I’d be better off talking to Verizon. Again.

So I call the customer service line again and the woman informs me that no, there are no pending charges and actually it would be impossible for me get charged anything seeing as how I wasn’t even enrolled in Autopay anymore. I try to get her to double check and talk to accounting or someone just to make sure, but she is VERY certain that I won’t get charged anything until my accounting error is fixed. Okay, so away I go for the holidays, all the while keeping an eye on my checking account just to make sure nothing huge and Verizon appears on it. Looking good.

While I’m home visiting my parents, my mom says I got a statement from my old checking account there (which I rarely use but haven’t had a chance to close yet) and it shows a $480 payment to Verizon. I try not to ruin the Christmas spirit of things by completely flipping out, and I am determined not to deal with it until after I fly out from my parents.’ But I can’t help wondering not only WHY I was charged after I was “guaranteed” not to, but also why the Autopay charged my old checking account when it wasn’t even linked to my Verizon account anymore. Yes, it had been the checking account I previously used to pay Verizon, but I had months ago deleted it from the saved accounts online and replaced it with my new checking account.

I called Verizon again, where I spoke with both a customer service representative and a supervisor who said many things, none of which resulted in my actually getting a refund.

The supervisor told me that I canceled my Autopay too late and by then my payment was already pending. Really? You don’t say!!! I tell him about the other 2 Verizon representatives who both said there was nothing pending on my account. Mr. Supervisor apologizes for that, but says there is nothing he can do. He tells me I can call my bank to reverse the payment, but that at this point he can’t do anything. While I’m processing this, he also follows up by reminding me of the early termination fee Verizon will charge me if I cancel my coverage. Seems he’s thinking one step ahead.

He says he can file a refund request with accounting, but that in his experience they always refuse to refund the money and will instead issue me the credit. He says that in his history there, he had never seen them actually refund money in these kinds of cases. He says what he CAN do is waive any late fees I incur while waiting for this to be resolved. Wait, so what you’re saying is you’ll waive some $5 late fees and give me a near $500 credit instead of giving me my money back- sounds great!

I also ask him about the shadiness of the fact that Verizon did not even charge my current checking account but my old one. He comes back with something about how when you sign up for Autopay, there is stuff in that contract about agreeing to these kinds of terms. Um, shady and sketchy terms? Again, he says I should call my bank to reverse the charge.

So, determined not to end up with nearly $500 in Verizon credit, I did reverse the charge on my checking account. It took some doing on my part, but after I sent back a notarized form, my bank reversed the charge. Hurray! Or so I thought.

A few weeks later, while still waiting for the initial billing problem to be resolved, I begin receiving automated Verizon calls telling me that my account has been suspended because I haven’t been paying my bills…even though they specifically told me NOT to pay until the billing problem was solved.

I call again, this time going straight to a financial specialist there, who says not to worry, that my account isn’t suspended, but that the initial billing problem has actually already been resolved, so I need to pay my amount past due. I take a look at the details on my online statement, and my bank did indeed reverse the charge. However, Verizon then decided to take it upon themselves to charge me a $25 “Non Sufficient Funds” fee for this reversal. This makes absolutely no sense to me. But at this point, it’s the weekend, and I decide not to call Verizon again until Monday. I also decide not to pay the “amount past due” until I talk to someone, as it still looks wrong.

Come Sunday, I go to call a friend. Instead, it goes straight to Verizon. Confused, I hang up and try again. Verizon again. Telling me my account has been suspended. Meaning I can’t call anyone, and oh, since it’s Sunday, the Financial Department is closed so I have to call back on Monday. Frustrated (and wanting to actually TALK to my friend about this ongoing battle), I just suck it up and pay my amount past due, even though I’m sure it’s still higher than what I actually owe.

Tomorrow, I’ll call yet again, to try and get this resolved once and for all. It’s just immensely frustrating how a mistake that originated on their part entirely has cost me so much time and stress. What makes it even worse is this is the first problem I’ve ever had with Verizon, and they’ve been my provider for years. Which, obviously, I am now rethinking. But that early termination fee! Well, Consumerist, what were you saying again about that hike in texting fees?

You had your chance, Verizon. You know the old saying. Fool me once, shame on – shame on you. If fooled, you can’t get fooled again. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER