You've Been Crammed: Verizon to Pay Millions in Refunds for Phantom Data Charges
Two years after Verizon Wireless allegedly discovered customers without data plans were being billed for data usage, the company has announced it will refund charges that could total over $50 million. The announcement follows an ongoing investigation by the Federal Communications Commission initiated 10 months ago into Verizon and customer complaints of what the FCC refers to as "cramming", unauthorized or misleading charges that appear on phone bills.
"In October and November, we are notifying about 15 million customers, through their regular bill messages, that we are applying credits to their accounts due to mistaken past data charges," Mary Coyne, general counsul for Verizon Wireless said. "We will mail former customers refund checks. In most cases, these credits are in the $2 to $6 range; some will receive larger credits or refunds."
The phantom charges were a result of minor data exchanges caused by software built into customers' phones, others included accessing certain web links, which should not have incurred charges, Coyne said. The company has addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future, according to a company statement.
The FCC was “gratified to see the repayment, but for millions of Americans it’s a day late and a $1.99 short,” Michele Ellison, the chief of the F.C.C. enforcement bureau, said in a statement.
The FCC provides a fact sheet on its website for consumers that explains its Truth-in-Billing Rules and the practice of cramming.
If you suspect you have been crammed, the FCC recommends you immediately alert the company, ask for an explanation of the charges in question and request an adjustment for any incorrect charges. If you the company who sent you the bill or the service provider refuse to remove incorrect charges, you may file a complaint with the FCC, your state public service commission or the FTC as appropriate.
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