Verizon Wireless to pay record settlement for mysterious data charges

Intro: The Federal Communications Commission’s Enforcement Bureau is holding Verizon Wireless responsible for paying a record $25 million payment to the U.S. Treasury for mystery fees the company charged its customers over the last several years.

Key points:

  • The payment is the largest in FCC history and the settlement concludes the agency’s 10-month investigation into these overcharges
  • “Today’s consent decree sends a clear message to American consumers: The FCC has got your back,” said Julius Genachowski, chairman of the FCC, Washington. “People shouldn’t find mystery fees when they open their phone bills – and they certainly shouldn’t have to pay for services they didn’t want and didn’t use. In these rough economic times, every $1.99 counts
  • According to the settlement, the mystery fees from Verizon Wireless were caused by unauthorized data transfers initiated automatically by applications built into certain phones, accessing certain Web links that were designated as free-of-charge such as the Verizon Wireless mobile Web homepage , unsuccessful attempts to access data when there was insufficient network coverage to complete the requested data transfer and unwanted data transfers initiated by third parties and affecting customers who had content filters installed on their phones
  • This action is part of the FCC’s ongoing commitment of empowering and protecting consumers. To ensure that all affected consumers are repaid and the mystery fee issue is resolved, Verizon Wireless has agreed to key consumer protection measures: no more mystery fees, immediate repayment of 15 million customers, right to appeal, commitment to offer data blocks on request, improved customer service, Data Charge Task Force and strong accountability and compliance monitoring
  • “Today’s settlement requires Verizon Wireless to make meaningful business reforms, prevent future overcharges, and provide consumers clear, easy-to-understand information about their choices,” she said

My Take: 2 important trends here. First one is that Carriers will have to focus on Customer Relationship (I just expected they would be doing it spontaneously, like described in this article) and be the guarantee that services they enable through their network respects laws, ethic and morality. Second one, more fundamental for me as it is part of DiCoDE – the present, is that regulation, mostly in EU and in the US is striking back, after having been left behind by technology innovation.


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