Sat, Dec 31, 2011 - Page 10 News List

Verizon’s new fee sparks an uproar among US users

AFP, Washington

Verizon users vented their anger online after the US company announced a new US$2 “convenience fee” on certain one-time bill payments, in the latest popular backlash against alleged corporate greed.

Verizon Communications Inc announced the new fee on Thursday, saying it was “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].”

The fee would not apply to customers using electronic checks or AutoPay, or those paying with mailed-in paper checks, gift or rebate cards, or through online banking transfers.

However, many customers appeared unsatisfied with those options, judging by an outpouring of complaints on Twitter and online petitions, one of which had gathered about 400 signatures by late Thursday.

“Crazy world when you have to pay a fee to give a company money,” the MSN Money news Web site wrote on Twitter.

“We in the country are already being price gouged by limited and substandard services from Verizon, yet have no viable alternatives,” Laurinda Reinhart of North Carolina wrote on an online petition.

“Verizon doesn’t seem to value its customers one bit. enough!!” she added.

The company’s high-speed 4G LTE service crashed twice this month, leaving smartphone users without Internet access for hours.

The fee controversy was widely compared to the wave of complaints that followed Bank of America Merrill Lynch’s announcement of a US$5 monthly fee for US debit card users. The backlash eventually led the bank to scrap plans for the new fee.

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