Verizon Wireless Dec. 30 nixed its plan to levy a $2 “convenience fee” on single payments made online or via phone after consumers rallied against the wireless carrier and the Federal Communications Commission vowed to investigate the fee.
Word leaked Dec. 29 that Verizon would tack on fees for customers who make single bill payments by phone or through its Website beginning Jan. 15. Verizon said the fee was designed to make payment transactions more efficient by paying through the company’s autopay system.
Consumers viewed the charge as merely another way Big Red was reaching into its pockets for more money. The leaked plan, coming without validation from Verizon, was also misunderstood by many consumers who thought the charge would be applied to all debit card and credit card purchases for Verizon products.
Consumers rallied against the company via Change.org, where nearly 150,000 people offered their signatures in support of urging Verizon to drop the charge. The FCC said it was concerned about the fee and pledged to investigate the change.
One day later, the carrier backtracked, citing “customer feedback” about the plan.
“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers,”said Dan Mead, president and CEO of Verizon Wireless. “Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time.”
2011 was quite the year for corporate backtracking.
Netflix scrapped its plan to split its DVD-by-mail service into a separate business named Qwikster as part of a new pricing structure that upset some of its users.
The move seemed calculated to mask a price hike and to help Netflix distance itself from physical DVD rentals, which it believes are detrimental to the company’s business.
Verizon’s about-face capped a tough month for the carrier, which also suffered three data service outages in December that it attributed to “growing pains” with its 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) broadband service.
“Being a pioneer comes with growing pains,” Verizon said in a Dec. 29 statement. “The recent issues that affected our customers’ 4G LTE service were unforeseen despite careful, diligent planning, deployment and ongoing upgrade programs.”