The $2 fee will apply to those who pay with credit or debit cards on a per-statement basis, either through the company’s website or by telephone, and the company says that the fee is designed to offset the cost that credit card companies charge Verizon for processing payments, reports The Huffington Post.
“Starting January 15, a new $2 payment convenience fee will be instituted for customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone,” the company informs on its web-site.
Verizon customers flooded Twitter with denunciations of the company, setting up online petitions and vowing to use paper to cost the company more money than it would raise through the new fee.
Others noted that the people who tended to pay at the last minute were often those who lived paycheck to paycheck.
A popular post in online message board Reddit’s “WTF” section has already attracted dozens of upset commenters, as have the comment sections on stories posted on CNet, Aol sister site Engadget and Geek.com.
Typical of the frustration are calls to stop using Verizon, a proposed campaign to get everyone to send in paper checks and money in order to overwhelm Verizon’s billing department, and labeling the new fee as “another ridiculous cash grab.”
“They are punishing people who need to wait until the last second,” said David O’Neill, who recently lost his job at a Borders bookstore that closed.
He is a former Verizon Wireless customer but took to Twitter anyway on Thursday to argue that the company’s move helps the 1 percent get richer, since it rewards Verizon shareholders.
“We hope it’s not the case that people are forced into paying this,” said Mr. Samberg. “You look at all of the options and choose the one that is best and easiest for you.”
Verizon is encouraging its customers to choose one of seven alternative payment options to avoid incurring the fee — those options include enrolling in an Auto-Pay system on the company’s website, paying via check or cash via mail, paying at a Verizon kiosk, or paying with a Verizon gift card:
- Electronic check online (My Verizon Online, My Verizon Mobile/Handset). Fee waived.
- Electronic check via telephone. Fee waived.
- Enrollment in AutoPay using credit/debit/ATM card or electronic check; fee does not apply
- Online from the customer’s home-banking service provider website; fee does not apply.
- Credit/debit/ATM card, electronic check or cash at a Bill Payment Kiosk, Panel or with a representative at a Verizon Wireless Communications Store; fee does not apply.
- Use of a Verizon Wireless Gift Card or Verizon Wireless device Rebate Card to pay a bill in-store, online or by telephone; fee does not apply
- Paper check or money order mailed to the VZW remit address on customer’s bill; fee does not apply.
“These fees are going to cover the costs of those last-minute payments,” said David Samberg, a Verizon spokesman. “We don’t want anyone to have to pay this.”
Verizon Wireless followed other Internet service providers, including Comcast, that have decided to charge fees to customers for certain phone payments.
AT&T, Verizon’s biggest rival, has not announced plans to impose charges for electronic payments and a company spokesman declined to speculate on whether it might do so, according to The New York Times.