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Verizon Wireless to Charge Fee for Online Bill Payment

December 30, 2011

By Gilbert Falso :: 12:31 PM

Verizon to add $2 surchargeVerizon Wireless, the nation’s largest cellular service provider, created a wave of controversy yesterday when it announced that it would add a $2 surcharge to one-time payments made via credit card on its website or through its telephone response system.

Customers immediately took to Twitter to denounce the new practice, and set up online petitions, with many vowing to resort to  paper checks in hopes that it would cost the company more money to process than it would raise through the new fee on credit cards.

Verizon, it appears, was being sneaky in timing this announcement during the slow week between Christmas and New Years – perhaps hoping that customers weren’t paying attention, and that the online PR nightmare would be subdued.

It seems that much of the outrage is coming from that fact that the new fee isn’t based at all on Verizon’s costs. The company’s announcement says that bills paid through paper checks in the mail, or payments made at Verizon Wireless’s brick-and-mortar stores, won’t be charged a fee. Much like customers could not understand the reasoning behind Bank of America’s failed debit card fee earlier this year, they’re not grasping this one either.

The New York Times has reported that Verizon refuses to divulge how much it costs them to process electronic payments, but it most likely costs less to process a credit card payment than it does to handle checks or in-person payments.

Below is the full text from Verizon on the rollout of the new fee:

Verizon Wireless offers customers numerous free and simple payment options and we encourage customers to use those options. Starting January 15, a new $2 payment convenience fee will be instituted for customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone. There are a couple of exceptions. See below. The fee will help allow us to continue to support these single bill payment options in these channels and is designed to address costs incurred by us 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 — we encourage customers to use those or other payment options that incur no fees. [See complete list below.] The telephone and online single payment fee, which takes effect January 15, will be disclosed up-front and throughout the transaction.

There are numerous payment options available to our customers where the fee is waived or where no fee applies. They include:

1. Electronic check online (My Verizon Online, My Verizon Mobile/Handset). Fee waived.

2. Electronic check via telephone. Fee waived.

3. Enrollment in AutoPay using credit/debit/ATM card or electronic check; fee does not apply

4. Online from the customer’s home-banking service provider website; fee does not apply.

5. Credit/debit/ATM card, electronic check or cash at a Bill Payment Kiosk, Panel or with a representative at a Verizon Wireless Communications Store; fee does not apply.

6. Use of a Verizon Wireless Gift Card or Verizon Wireless device Rebate Card to pay a bill in-store, online or by telephone; fee does not apply.

7. Paper check or money order mailed to the VZW remit address on customer’s bill; fee does not apply.

Verizon’s largest rival, AT&T, has not yet announced plans to impose fees for electronic payments.