Verizon Good At Overbilling, Not So Much The Other Stuff

Elliot has been to heck and back with Verizon. His Samsung Rogue refused to charge, so he got them to replace it with a refurbished one. The “new” phone began randomly shutting off by itself. Elliot got Verizon to give him a full replacement, but they mailed it to his old address. After more shipping woes, he finally got a working phone. Then his bill arrives, about $1,000 higher than it’s supposed to be.

Elliot writes that he then

call[s] customer service and am eventually (a few days later) credited with the two charges, though not the taxes or fees associated with a higher bill. While waiting for those credits though, Verizon attempted to take the money out of my checking account twice. This is obviously my fault for allowing them direct access, but I was assured this wouldn’t happen, and then assured after the first time (and after I suspended autopay) that it wouldn’t happen again.

Today I receive a text saying that if the balance of $900+ dollars isn’t paid they would be shutting off my service. Additionally, I have been assessed late fee and returned check fee by Verizon, as well as $52 in NSF fees from my bank. While trying to get this all straightened out today I spoke to two people in customer service, two in financial services, was hung up on once and spent nearly an hour on hold, and have been told that they will be unable to credit any of the extra charges until I pay the bill in full (which includes those charges).

Does that sound right? At this point I would definitely not trust Verizon to refund the money that they are overcharging me. Sounds like a case ripe for escalation.


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  1. c152driver says:

    This is a good reminder to not let businesses pull money from your checking account–especially for variable bills where errors or surprises are more likely. The only bills I pay this way are my mortgage and car payment. They are fixed payments. All of my other bills I pay using my bank’s bill pay service, which gives me more control over the process.

    • Rebecca K-S says:

      Yeah, my husband pays his bills manually for precisely this reason. I’m lazy and have a lot of things on auto-pay. Hasn’t bitten me in the ass yet – we shall see.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      It’s generally not as scary as you make it sound. Especially since chargebacks are perfectly okay. The real lesson is check your account online daily, as you can refuse pending transactions anyway.

    • Supes says:

      Variable bills you can pay also, to an extent. I pay my credit card minimum payment every month automatically from my checking account, but only pay the remainder after actually checking.

      I pay my bill off in full every month, but having the minimum payment automatic is just a nice way to make certain if it slips my mind or something my credit doesn’t get dinged.

      Anyway, here I don’t fault the customer at all for giving Verizon direct access. A phone bill is something you expect to be about the same every month, and certainly not $1000 higher.

      • TasteyCat says:

        I do this as well. On the credit cards that allow it, a nominal payment automatically goes out to them midcycle.

    • Shtetl G says:

      Just use your banks on line bill pay feature instead of auto pay. You control when payments are sent and how much is sent. I have my mortgage payment set as a recurrent monthly payment. No surprises from a rogue charge ever.

      If you are going to have an auto pay at least put it on a credit card where charge backs are easier and won’t cause you to bounce a bunch of checks before things are straightened out.

      • Dover says:

        “at least put it on a credit card”

        THIS! THIS! THIS! I mean, I realize some people are adverse to credit cards, but they are perfect for this sort of thing.

        And, it can still be automated. Have one card just for payments like this and set it up to automatically draw payment in full from your checking account, giving you several weeks to review the statement for accuracy before the money comes out of your account and protection for over-billing situations like this.

      • Dover says:

        “at least put it on a credit card”

        THIS! THIS! THIS! I mean, I realize some people are adverse to credit cards, but they are perfect for this sort of thing.

        And, it can still be automated. Have one card just for payments like this and set it up to automatically draw payment in full from your checking account, giving you several weeks to review the statement for accuracy before the money comes out of your account and protection for over-billing situations like this.

    • Putaro says:

      Mortgages aren’t fool proof either. A friend of mine had her mortgage payment being deducted automatically. She refinanced and, of course, her old mortgage payment continued to be deducted even after the mortgage was paid off and closed.

      • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

        I think the point is that it’s a lot easier to prove an overcharge or billing error with a mortgage (especially one that’s been paid in full) than it is a bill where the carrier can say the charges are whatever they say they are (e.g., international roaming).

  2. Browncoat says:

    Verizon, you never fail to amaze me……

  3. Alvis says:

    Um, what’s the $1000 for? The extra phones? Seems like a key bit of the story’s missing.

  4. vastrightwing says:

    Oh yes, Verizon math, the bill should have been $100 but they can’t figure out the decimal point thingy. As we all know, point oh two cents is not the same as two cents.

  5. madtube says:

    And here go the masses to Big Red to get an iPhone. Expect more of these stories, I’m afraid.

    Full disclosure: My wife and I each have iPhone 4 phones with AT&T. We have been VERY lucky to not have many issues. I had been with Sprint for 8 years before with almost no problems. The Gods of Luck have blessed us though now that I said something, it’s probably over.

  6. parabellum2000 says:

    I had a similar issue when I went through 2 blackberry storms in 2 weeks and wanted an Omnia instead. Rather than deal with customer support I did everything in the store. The staff was very helpful but I still spent probably 2 hours at the store between the 2 exchanges. Initially I was told there would be no charge. I got my bill and saw that I was charged full retail on the omnia, plus 2 activation charges, tax and the bill was about $800 if I recall. I went back to the store and spoke to the general manager. He remembered me from the previous exchanges and told me there was nothing he could do about the current bill but that I would get a credit on the next bill. I told him there was absolutely no way that I would accept that solution. Ultimately I told him that I would not pay that bill, he went in the back and presumably made a call. He came back out and told me to cancel the autopay and only the pay the service fees about $150 (family plan) and everything else would just disappear by the second bill. I did just that, canceled the autopay and sent a payment only for what I would otherwise have owed. On the second bill it was all credited back.

    I still try to use the store whenever possible, its been a hassle to stand there but I’ve gotten better help over the years. I also still use autopay, but verify the bill every month.

  7. jtnabilene says:

    I have been a Verizon customer for over 15 years and have never had a billing problem or a problem with any of the dozen or so phones I have had. I don’t doubt that people do have problems. I just have never had one…and hope to stay that way.

    • RedOryx says:

      I’m with you. My fam and I are on a shared plan, and there are four phones. I think the oldest account member goes about at least 10 years and we’ve never had problems. (Not to suggest that other people are lying. I just count myself lucky to never have.)

      The only issue was with a flip phone that snapped in two, kind of like with a paper clip when you bend it too many times. My sister and I had the exact same phone and it happened to both of us, so it was clearly a design flaw and not Verizon.

  8. Straspey says:

    I must interject here, only because my five-plus year experience with Verizon Wireless has been unequivocally excellent and diametrically opposite of all the horror stories I’ve read here.

    My wife and I signed up for a basic, two-line, family share plan about five years ago with a two-year agreement. We both got the same phones at that time, however after about a week I decided I wanted a different phone and was able to make the exchange at a Verizon brick-&-morter store with absolutely no problems – in fact they even ported over all my contacts for free.

    After our contract expired we chose to keep our phones and remained on our plan on a month-to-month basis. The more we remained “loyal” to Verizon, the more they rewarded us fir our “loyalty.”

    They gave us a free “loyalty” upgrade to a new plan with 50 more minutes at no charge. My wife downloaded the VZNavigator app to her phone and it didn’t appear on our bill – when I mentioned it to a FRIENDLY and HELPFUL CSR, she told me it didn’t appear on our account and, since it was a Verizon error, I shouldn’t be concerned and just enjoy the free service – which we’ve been doing for about six months.

    My wife decided to upgrade her phone and they allowed her to sign a New Every Two agreement, while allowing me (the other line on the account) to keep my phone and month-to-month status.

    The day I decided to actually order the phone, I was assisted once AGAIN, by a CSR who could not have been nicer, or more friendly and helpful. We ordered the phone and it arrived in 48 hours – free shipping.

    THEN – another FRIENDLY & HELPFUL CSR took me through the steps of downloading the app to port all my wife’s contacts from her old phone to her new one – she was exceptionally patient and even made sure the new phone was properly activated by calling it from another line. This CSR was so terrific that I took the time to speak with her supervisor and compliment the outstanding service I had just received.

    I was thinking of adding a higher texting plan to my wife’s line because she texts way more than I do – but when I spoke to the extremely FRIENDLY and HELPFUL CSR at VZW, after reviewing our plan and usage habits, he actually suggested that I would be better off NOT upgrading right now because I WOULD SAVE MORE MONEY THAT WAY and showed me a simple formula to use to see if upgrading might be cost effective in the future.

    Finally – my wife had a friend visiting from abroad and she called her friend on her cell phone while she was staying at the hotel here in town. Unfortunately, my wife did not realize that by calling her friend’s cell phone, she was making international calls – which showed up on our bill. When I asked VZW about this and explained our error (even though I was ready, willing and able to pay for those calls) they saw what happened and gave us a 50% discount on the international charges.

    These are just a few highlights.

    My experience with Verizon Wireless Customer Service has always been outstanding – and in fact it’s one of the reasons we are still one of their customers.

  9. Keter says:

    I had to leave Verizon a few years back after a full year of double-billing that inexplicably started one year into a 2-year contract and no one could stop. Oh, every rep was prompt to refund the overcharge and swore it was fixed, but every month I had to do the same dance. Thank God I didn’t have equipment problems on top of that.

  10. coldhelix says:

    Alvis: Um, what’s the $1000 for? The extra phones? Seems like a key bit of the story’s missing.

    I’d definitely escalate that call. Elliot should try going to an indirect verizon exclusive dealer, see if he can get their accounts manager from corporate to look up the call notes. It’s against the rules, but I did it all the time when I worked at an indirect (I had the managers login) and it assured me that I knew exactly what was going on with the account, what overages were charged, and what notes the CSRs took.

    Don’t go to a corporate retailer. They won’t do jack crap for you.

  11. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    OT: That picture is irritating.

    screamface.jpg has not been added to my adblock filter.

  12. ITDEFX says:

    Now I assume that even if they have your CC info stored on their website and you are not set to auto pay, they still don’t have full access to your account correct? When I pay online I usually enter my CC and back codes then submit. They can’t simply take that money unless I agree to autopay or does having it on their server still gives them full access to my account?

  13. swarmster says:

    I went through the same thing. I never got back over $250 and now my account is overdue. I went in to the store and had my phone replaced and was told by the service technician that they did not need my old phone then was charged hundreds of dollars for my old phone about a month later. Not only that, my new phone was mailed to the wrong address. I have been a Verizon customer for 11 years and I am actually switching because the last year and a half has caused me such strife and seems like they just want to pass me off on to someone else. I often ask myself if I had a more expensive plan would I be treated better? But of course! I only have the $55/month plan. So if you think about it, $55 x 12 x 11 = $7,260. This does not include being nickle and dimed for all of those times I went over my rip-off minutes, nor being charged for a broken phone, and bogus service charges either.

  14. DeadFlorist says:

    “The “new” phone began randomly shutting off by itself.”

    Ahh, must be the Intensity.

    • LCE167 says:

      When something doesn’t work like it should or breaks before it should it is very irritating to say the least. I too have been very fortunate with Verizon service. In the nine years I’ve been with them they have always quickly taken care of any problem.

  15. segfault, registered cat offender says:

    It’s Verizon’s way of telling him he’s supposed to buy a Verizon iPhone (which was going to be called a viPhone until Apple realized that it would offend all of the emacs users).

  16. bhr says:

    To clarify. The two undelivered phones were both billed as unreturned, incurring $419 charges each.

    The second time they tried to take the money out of my account was after I deleted my bank information from their site.

  17. kc2idf says:

    A friend of mine had a similar problem (though not with VZ), and used it to get his ETF waived. Because of the billing error, they had, in fact, shut off his service. All along, he had paid them what was actually owed (as opposed to what was on the bill) and so his end of the contract was upheld. When they shut him off anyway, it constituted a material breach of the contract, and so he moved to another carrier.

    In this particular case, I would advise doing that, then, if he can’t recover the NSF fees from somewhere, he should sue VZ for them in small claims. The suit should also stipulate that his bill is to be zeroed out. and that VZ must put it in writing that nothing is owed.

  18. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    I cannot say VZW is not good at the other stuff because I never have problems with them. In fact I have mind-boggling good luck with them. I even got another upgrade from them yesterday because they had sent out two DI’s to replace my D1 that had to be replaced 4 times. I sent back one of the DI’s and told them they must have wanted me to have two upgrades and the agreed. Now if I want an iPhone (which I don’t) I can get one. BTW, the limited first run batch of iPhones is for existing customers. Smart of VZW to not piss off their bread and butter.

  19. vdragonmpc says:

    Verizon has never been able to fix bills in a timely manner. They are great as long as you do not have a problem. You want anger issues? Visit a verizon store after going online and pricing phones. They never have matching deals even if you ‘are a long term valued customer’. I do not go to the stores here anymore as they are a waste of time and will rip you off on upsells.

    The phone support is far better and with a 2-3 day time they will get you a replacement phone THAT IS PROGRAMMED WITH THE RIGHT NUMBER! (yes the physical store no less than 4 times gave me MY phone with my WIFE’S number coded in. Great when hers just stopped working and she is at work wondering why no one is calling her)

    In another incident it took 9 months for them to adjust a bill in my favor for the plan I was on. They get the bill correct in september…AND END THE PLAN IN OCTOBER!!! They had that coded right let me tell you it was in right on the 1st of OCT. There was no delay on that action and billing didnt have to do any ‘adjustments’..

    I have been with them for years and have great stories as they are the corp provider and I have to support Blackberries through them. (another HUGE ripoff just look up license fees for email)

  20. highmodulus says:

    Secretly one of the worst businesses in the country- watch the reputation defender type in the comments lol.

    Love the return of the “show us your Verizon face” that old school!

  21. pandroid says:

    Yup, verizon math is stupid. We just switched plans and I got an inaccurate bill for the first time in seven years. They charged us the wrong amount in three different places. And they don’t have a way of changing the bill before it autodebits (thankfully, I set mine up to go against a credit card long ago) so they just give credits for the next month’s bill. Which is fine for us because it’s equivalent to paying two months ahead and that’s not a hardship. But I can imagine for many others it would be.

    Escalate, and see where you get. Maybe someday they’ll actually make a system that A) can do math and B) can do refunds.

    • Mobius says:

      Refunds? Verizon is best at billing. Giving refunds is the opposite of billing. No refunds! Only bills! You’re dreamin’ about gorgonzola cheese when it’s clearly brie time, baby. Now, if you suggested they make their system bill MORE in frequency and quantity, they’d be all over that.

  22. YokoOhNo says:

    Verizon has a couple of great scams going but now they just seem greedy.

    Currently, they bill 80% of their 80 million customers a $1-$2 phantom charge on their monthly bill for additional gross revenue of between 60 million and 130 million Dollarinos.

    70% of the customers decide to spend 10 minutes on the phone with verizon asking for a refund and receive it immediately…after wasting 10 minutes. The remaining 30% either don’t notice the fraud or simply don’t want to spend the time calling and arguing (they are not aware that verizon is ready to refund the ill-gotten gains immediately) with verizon over the $1-$2…leaving verizon with ill-gotten, fraudulent gains of an amount somewhere between $20 million and $40 million per month.

    It just seems to me that verizon is experimenting with new income streams when they’ve got the above mentioned scam and the 9000% up charge for sending text messages scam.

  23. HogwartsProfessor says:

    It’s crap like this that made me decide to go pre-paid. I looked online, including here, about companies and found so much vitriol that I wasn’t going to get a phone at all. Then someone waiting with me at the tire place told me about Net10. So far, I’ve been perfectly happy.

    If I traveled a lot and made a lot more money, I’d get a smart phone, but so far that hasn’t been necessary. My new Net10 QWERTY phone will go online (limited) but I’m on the computer so much I don’t need it.

  24. Psfun1 says:

    WOW I just went thru a similar issue with Verizon with a storm 2 that was junk. I was able to not only achieve (long road, no less than 20 calls later) resolution. I was placed into a new handset and it was a year early. Of course it cost me hrs of time on the phone and more than it was worth, but it is done. I was never offered so much as an apology for all of this even after I was deemed by 15 customer svc agents as “powerless” as they were to resolve the issue. This is the # for Lucy Arzola she is also at the corporate level. I hope this will help some of you in what seems to be a never ending battle with the powers that be, that you and I as consumers have created. Hold on folks this time we have created a monster.

    Lucy Arzola 1-949-286-1405. Let the flooding of her voice mail begin.