Dec. 29, 2011 at 3:15 PM ET
Verizon Wireless just can't seem to pacify its outraged customers lately. First folks got riled up as the company suffered its third data outage of the month, and now the pitchforks and torches are out as details slip out about Verizon's plans to start charging customers two bucks for every one-time online or phone payment.
Information about this new "convenience fee" first came to light as Engadget got its hands on a leaked memo. It was revealed that Verizon will soon essentially punish customers who avoid using its AutoPay system by charging a two-dollar fee for each month that they make bill payments over the phone or through Verizon's online portal. That fee will be waived for customers who choose to use electronic checks or Verizon gift cards (as well as for those who are enrolled in AutoPay, of course).
In case you're hoping that the leaked memo is fake and that the fees described above won't ever be charged, I've got bad news for you: Eric Zeman of Phone Scoop got confirmation from the horse's mouth:
Verizon Wireless today confirmed to Phone Scoop via email that it plans to institute a new $2 charge for customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone. The change goes into effect starting January 15.
We have reached out to Verizon ourselves and received the same confirmation. A spokesperson for the company explained that the "convenience fee" is "designed to address costs incurred by [Verizon] for only those customers who choose to make single bill payments in alternate payment channels (online, mobile, telephone). It is waived for those who pay by electronic check or enroll in AutoPay."
So yes, the fees are coming in mid-January.
But until then we echo a sentiment pointed out by Engadget's Darren Murph: While rather annoying and costly to customers — this payment fee structure isn't unusual. Heck, Sprint has already taken it in order to push customers into using an automatic billing service. (And many credit card companies charge fees for payments made over the phone.)
Meanwhile, it may not even be new to Verizon: A Phone Scoop commenter says that when he worked at Verizon in 2000, they instituted a similar charge — and later dropped it.
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