Does continued dishonesty from the mobile carriers signal that more federal regulation is needed in the telecoms space?
Verizon (VZ) got caught with its hand in the cookie jar this weekend and has to pay $90 million to settle with 15 million (likely angry) customers.
The problem is something like this: Verizon sells a customer a phone that can transmit and receive Internet data but the customer has only purchased a voice plan. The phone has data apps, however, and if a customer is tricked into opening one of those apps (or does so accidentally), they get charged for data usage.
I’ve seen phones like this that are loaded to the teeth with tricks to get people go online. Verizon likely thought they could up their revenue by serving data to people to who didn’t desire to go online. The upside was short-lived because enough people were upset to petition the FCC to get involved. The violation of trust was so blatant that Verizon chose not to fight the allegations and just pony up the money in the form of $2-6/ customer, which will be credited in the coming months. If you were a Verizon customer who was victimized but left Verizon since (who could blame you?), you will receive the small check in the mail.
How do consumers keep the carriers in check? Unfortunately, it seems the only way to go is getting the government involved. Luckily, the FCC isn’t done with Verizon.
Verizon’s press release on the matter is below. Note the obvious contradictions: