On the heels of poor network performance this month with three separate data outages, Verizon has angered customers further by announcing that beginning January 15 2012, it will charge customers $2 to make one-time online bill payments, or to pay by telephone.
The company called it a “convenience fee.”
The fee won’t apply to electronic check payments or to automatic credit card payments set up through Verizon’s AutoPay system. Paying by credit card in a Verizon store will also be free, as will mailing a check.
The move was met with heavy criticism. Consumer blog Engadget said charging customers to pay was “downright ludicrous.” Cnet.com said the move “made little sense.”
Verizon Wireless spokesman Thomas Pica tried to justify the online bill payment charge, saying, “The fee is designed to address costs incurred by us for only those customers who choose to make one-time bill payments in alternate payment channels (online, mobile, telephone) and who choose not to use the other options available to them ….”
However I personally find this charge to be outrageous. I have been a Verizon wireless customer for over two years, and although I’ve only paid my bill online once (I usually pay cash using the payment machine in the Verizon store) I would consider switching providers over this. I’m a customer, not a personal ATM machine for Verizon to pad their profit margins.
Verizon Wireless rivals AT&T Inc and Sprint Nextel Corp said they do not charge their customers for any bill-payment options.