An open letter to Verizon Wireless:
Dear Sir or Madam:
As a new customer, I signed up for a Verizon Wireless Nationwide Select Family SharePlan which includes ‘Unlimited Text, Picture, Video & Instant Messaging.’ My account was opened in February 2009 and when I activated my five lines, I specifically requested a data block on all of the phones. The CSR activated the blocks and I was ready to use my phones.
When I started getting my bill, I noticed several charges for $1.99 for megabyte usage. So the next month, I called and inquired as to why I was being charged for data access after it had been blocked. The CSR told me that the previous Verizon employee who activated my phones had forgotten to add a few blocks. She informed me that the problem was now taken care of; that I wouldn’t be billed any data charges again. For the next 4 billing statements, I had data charges on various lines. I called each month and each CSR could not explain why, but each insured me the problem was taken care of.
Although all my family members know data access is blocked, simply hitting the wrong key on accident will incur a data charge. My line has been charged a few times, and I have not used any data. My mother’s line has been charged for data access as well; she can barely use a computer, much less cell phone internet.
When I made my routine monthly call to Verizon Wireless in June, I explained that I wanted this problem fixed for good. I was transferred to technical support and they could not find the reason, as all the necessary blocks were in place. That tech support employee then transferred me to “level 2” care to see if they could figure out the problem. They couldn’t find out why I was being billed either, so they said that a team engineer would return my call within the next day once the ‘glitch’ is found.
I waited about a week and I never received a call back from Verizon as promised. I then called back, and spoke to a gentleman who informed me that I couldn’t block data charges completely unless I also agreed to block picture messaging.
I don’t understand. I am paying extra for picture messaging. Why would I want to block something I am paying for? Before I originally signed up, I was told that I could block data access. I don’t think my request is unreasonable. In fact, I just switched from AT&T, where I had a data block AND picture messaging. Verizon is acting like it is impossible block because the two are tied together.
If blocking data access and picture messaging are truly tied together, it is because they were designed as such. From your business point of view: let’s say 10% of your customers (a very conservative guess, I’d say) are charged $1.99 extra each month for data they didn’t use. 80 million customers * 10% = 8 million customers. 8 million customers * $1.99 = $16 million extra dollars each month! I understand the profit motive here, but it’s a dirty, deceitful business practice. From a customer’s point of view, it’s ridiculously unfair. Every other major wireless carrier has the ability to block data charges completely without blocking picture messaging that the customer pays extra for.
The first 6 customer service representatives I spoke with did not even know about such an issue. In fact, three of the CSRs I spoke with agreed with me and said it’s a common complaint! In all honestly, this problem has not been fixed for one of two reasons: First, Verizon realizes the profit in deceit, or/and, second, Verizon hasn’t instructed their engineers to fix the issue. We both know it can be fixed, but clearly, it’s not a priority. I bet if Verizon lost, instead of gained $1.99 each occurrence, you would have the problem fixed tomorrow.
I encourage you to search Google for phrases such as, “Verizon $1.99 data block.” You’ll find pages and pages of customers discussing this exact same issue. In fact, many of the discussions take place on forums.verizon.com. Your customers are upset, yet nothing has changed.
In short, when I come time for millions of your valued customer’s to renew their contract, we will consider the unfair charges and unethical business practices. You should revaluate your plan and treat your customers like your business depends on them, because it does.
I would like an explanation and a refund of all related charges to date, please.