Unless you’ve been in a coma for the last 24 hours (and if you have been in a coma, we’re glad to have you back with us), you have likely heard about Verizon Wireless’ announcement that it will begin charging customers a $2/month “convenience” fee if they choose to pay by debit/credit card over the phone or online without enrolling in auto-pay. And while people around the country have expressed feelings from blargh to RAWWWRRRR!!! about this news, Verizon says it’s sticking by its plan to charge customers money to pay their bills.
While public outrage over Bank of America’s plan to charge debit card customers a $5/month fee eventually led BofA to scrap that program, a rep for VZW tells Bloomberg that the company has no plans to fold to mass anger because, “Customers have a number of alternatives to pay their bill and not incur the convenience fee… Paying the fee is an option, not an absolute.”
True, as we reported yesterday, Verizon will waive the fee for people who enroll in auto-pay or who pay directly from their bank accounts via electronic or paper check. There are also options for paying at dedicated kiosks or Verizon Wireless stores.
Some readers have tried contacting Verizon to get out of their contracts, claiming that the fee is materially detrimental to their agreement. But they have hit a massive brick wall of CSRs who re-state the company line that the payment is optional and therefore not a material change to the contract.
The other wireless providers will surely be keeping an eye on Verizon over the next few months to see how many, if any, customers defect to other carriers as a result of this fee. This is an opportunity for someone like Sprint or T-Mobile to rustle up converts. It could also be the thin edge of the wedge, leading to a future where all wireless carriers slap on inconvenient convenience fees.
Verizon Defends $2 ‘Convenience Fee’ [Bloomberg]