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Verizon Wireless / blocked data charges

1 United States Review updated:

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 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.


******* *******

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  • Ap
      30th of Jul, 2009
    +1 Votes

    I also sent a copy of the letter (see above) to NC Attorney General, BBB, and FTC. I will post Verizon's response when I get one!

  • Cm
      31st of Jul, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Sounds exactly like my situation. Please let us know what happens.

  • Sa
      31st of Jul, 2009
    +1 Votes

    I've been fighting this for 7 months now...ever since I got unlimited texting.

  • Le
      28th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    I too am going throught this same exact situation with Verizon. For the last three billing cycles we have had these mysterious 1.99 charges on our bill ( we have four lines). They keep telling me that we are using the get it now feature to download, which we aren't. I was also told this cannot be blocked without losing the ability to send and/or receive pictures, which I pay for. They keep putting it back on me, that we are the ones doing something wrong. It seems funny that we are doing exactly what we have always done, but now they are charging for it.

  • Bm
      29th of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    Wow, I could have written the letter. The exact same thing is happening to me. And with five lines on my bill, and 1.99 for each one, I am really getting frustrated. I have a bill on my desk right now, and I dread making my monthly call.

  • Mo
      31st of Aug, 2009
    0 Votes

    I too received these charges. And I too have blocks on my phones. I was told that when a picture or text message file is too large the phone automatically access the internet to send those. It doesn't just cancel them and tell you they can't be sent. I have to call every time and I am am fed up with Verizon for all the extra charges they bill you for.

  • Ka
      29th of Sep, 2009
    +1 Votes

    Most likely it is from this questionable prcatice Verizon has. Many new phones come with icons that made it look like a game or application is already on the phone. But, if you click the icon, it connects to Get it Now.

    Even if you disconnect as soon as you see that’s what it is doing, it doesn’t are still charged a minimum of $1.99 for “browsing”. Very deceptive, and the reply I got from customer service was totally unsatisfactory. To lure customers to click with an icon (that VZN put there as IF the app is already on your phone) and then charge for browsing” is entrapment, and a deceitful business practice.

    I would suggest filing a complaint with your state's attorney general office, and with the FCC. If only a fraction of all who are getting hit with these phantom charges complain, maybe Verizon will start responding.

  • Od
      10th of Oct, 2009
    -1 Votes

    Let me explain to you all what's happening with the 1.99 charge.
    Even though you may have blocked "everything" in order to avoid data charges, when someone "sends" a request, say, a child who still doesn't know that they can't get a new ringtone, the computer sees the request ITSELF as data. It therefore charges the 1.99 data charge because, even though the system rejected the access to the ringtone catalog, the request itself IS data.
    Now, as for blocking everything and having a "select" plan, which allows for unlimited text, pictures, videos and IMs, and STILL getting a data charge, the ONLY way to avoid that is to have a "national access block" placed on the account. That will ABSOLUTELY eliminate any data charges. Now for the "catch": if you do this, the picture messaging feature will be disabled. This is due to the fact that, both data and picture messaging travel along the same "highway" on data lines. If you block your lines so you don't get a data charge, you will also not be able to send picture messages. It sucks, but there it is.

  • Ky
      11th of Oct, 2009
    +1 Votes

    I had almost the same thing happen to me. I had a data plan for a while, and decided it wasnt worth the extra monthly cost, so I dropped it. They charged me $1.99 a month for the email program on my EnV and they charged my wife's phone all the time for data, when she never used anything (not even text messages). I had them place a block on her phone, and that stopped the fees for that line. After calling verizon about 5 times I finally got them to refund the 1.99 they charged for the 3 consecutive months I didnt have a data plan.

    Now I don't get any mysterious charges. I use so I can still read the web without paying any data charges. its an awesome free service, you may want to check it out.

  • Te
      1st of Dec, 2009
    0 Votes

    Glad to find this while looking for new carrier. Sprint has the same problem and will charge big $ for data usage when you use your free picture mail. I have three phones and have been a Sprint customer for over ten years. I will keep looking. Thank you for posting.

  • Ce
      10th of Dec, 2009
    -1 Votes

    Maybe the right questions were not asked concerning your "data blocks." If hitting the wrong key is your problem then please just change the keys on your phone so that it does not have the shortcut key to access the internet.
    Verdict: Your data charges are valid.

  • Ho
      1st of Feb, 2010
    -1 Votes

    I read all of the above complaints, and I find it ironic that adults do not take responsibility for 1.99. You have options, including using verizon wireless .com to block many features. Data charges can be compiled many ways, I know for fact the download for backup assistant says no charge, however: if you set it to back up your contacts you will be charged 1.99 for the month. If you back up once a week, 4x a month, , , , is a 1.99 to much? I don't believe so when you can view and edit your contact list from their web site, and if your phone is lost/stolen/damaged, you have access to your numbers. Realist, do you really know all your contacts? Realist, should everything be free?
    Do be a realist and think about your service, 99% better than anyone out there. Another reality, your calling in for a 1.99 credit which just cost the company, cost 800 number, the represenatives salary, and approximately 15 minutes of your time, so the call cost the company 15$ approx, , use the web site and take control.

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