On the last Thursday of 2011 Verizon Wireless, one of the nation`s largest mobile network operators, made public their intention of levying a $2 fee upon all customers who choose to make one-time bill payments via the phone or the Internet using their debit or credit card beginning January 15. The response from subscribers was swift and vehement, prompting Verizon to eliminate the so-called “convenience fee” on the day following its unveiling.
On Friday the company published a statement on their website claiming that in response to “customer feedback,” they would not pursue the introduction of the new charge. Verizon`s motivations for attempting to put the fee into place were to encourage people to pay either by electronic check or arrange for their credit cards to be billed automatically, processes which are cheaper and more reliable respectively.
Almost as soon as the new fee was revealed, consumers began adding their names to a petition on Change.org that was started by Molly Katchpole. In 2011, Katchpole was responsible for launching a similar campaign against Bank of America’s decision to implement a monthly $5 dollar fee for debit card use that was ultimately successful. By Friday afternoon, the Verizon petition had amassed over 95,000 supporters.
Spokesman for Washington, D.C.-based telecom consumer group Public Knowledge Art Brodsky referred to Verizon`s reversal as a “shrewd move,” according to the Boston Herald.
“Once the same woman who did the Change.org petition for the BofA fee started one for the Verizon fee … they realized they were going to catch a lot of bad press and reversed course. That`s what makes them one of the smarter phone companies,” said Brodsky, as reported by the Boston Herald.
Such “convenience fees” as Verizon was trying to implement is the norm for the payment processors of power companies. Verizon was the first cellular phone service company to make moves towards adopting the practice, but given the impassioned consumer outcry it`s apparent that they will have to wait for the time being.
“Pressure from the marketplace is what companies listen to,” said Jeff Kagan, a telecom analyst, according to the Boston Herald.