Verizon wants $6,900 dollars from me due to a service billing error!
I took a 10 day business trip to Japan starting in late November 2014. Since I knew I was going to need phone and data coverage on this trip, I stopped into a Verizon store in early November to see what options were to add a global coverage plan. The associate explained the options, and suggested that I go online a few days before my trip and add the Global Data Plan that covered Japan, which was $25 for each MB used. He also suggested that I remove the plan upon my return and before the next billing cycle so that I wouldn't incur an unnecessary $25 charge for the next month. Good enough.
On November 26th, I added the Global Data Plan to my account online. No problem. I traveled to Japan from 11/30 to 12/8. Upon arriving in Japan, I got a text message confirming that my Global Data Plan was in effect, and confirming the terms and costs. I used my phone extensively on the trip, and ended up incurring three additional charges of $25 for data coverage, as was confirmed by additional text messages from Verizon. No problem at all. $100 dollars for data usage along with some minor additional charges for phone calls and text messages to my coworkers. Reasonable charges all around. A week after returning for my trip, I went on to Verizon's website to remove the Global Data Plan before the next billing cycle began.
So you ask yourselves, what's the problem.
Well, a few weeks later I get an email from Verizon stating that my account is past due for over $7,000!!! $7,000!!! This has to be some monumental mistake, right? After trying to decipher what happened by viewing my account online, I finally locate a customer service number I can call for billing questions. When I finally get a human on the line, they spent almost an hour researching what happened while I remained on hold. Finally, the customer service representative explained to me that when I went online to remove the Global Data Plan, that it somehow "retroactively" cancelled the plan for the period I was travelling. When my bill was calculated for the month, all of the data that I used was then billed at their standard rate for foreign roaming. She agreed that this billing was obviously an error, that I did in fact have the Global Data Plan in effect while I was traveling, and that my bill should only have only included the $100 charge for data usage (along with the charges for a few phone calls and texts). She told me that although they were in agreement, neither her nor her supervisor were authorized to credit such a large amount to my account, and that it would have to be escalated to another department to handle. She promised that I would be contacted either by phone or email within a few days to confirm the correction to my bill. Ok, problem solved, right?
Nope, unfortunately, I never received a confirmation call or email. Instead I got another email indicating that my bill was past due and that my service might be disconnected if I didn't bring it current. I immediately called the same number that I had called previously. To make a long story short, I talked to another customer service rep, as well as that person's supervisor. They both insisted that because it was me who made the changes to my account online and that when I made the changes (removing the Global Data Plan), I chose an option that retroactively cancelled the coverage back to the start of the billing period in question, that I was in fact responsible for the roaming charges. Of course I explained that it obviously wasn't my intention to retroactively remove the plan and incur a $7,000 charge, and that I was shocked that Verizon would even allow that to be an option available to a customer online. To no avail; they insisted it was entirely my error, and they could do nothing about the charges. Argg!! Just horrible customer service. Unconscionable to expect me to give them $7,000 in these circumstances whether it was my error or not. I did, in fact, have a contracted global coverage plan in place while I was traveling. They are not even disputing this fact. They just don't care.
I then asked the customer service supervisor that my case be escalated to someone who was in a position to actually do something to resolve this issue. I did receive a call from a Verizon representative a week ago, but I was on a plane and not able to take the call. She promised to call back to discuss, and she also left a phone number to call and her extension. Unfortunately, I have not heard back from her, and I have tried to call her back ten times now, and have not been able to reach her. I am also not given the option to leave her a voice mail or speak to someone else who can help. Today, I have gotten an email and two automated voice calls telling me that my account is still past due, and that I need to pay immediately to continue service. I am at wits end.
I'm hoping someone from Verizon will read this (albeit lengthy) posting, and be able to help me.
A note to Verizon management - I will under no circumstances pay you $7,000 for this absurdly deceptive and abusive billing practice. If this is not resolved within a day or two, I will port my number to another carrier and not look back. My credit is perfect and extensive, and I am certainly not worried about a negative report from Verizon. I am also not the least bit concerned with bill collectors, and I am more stubborn and resolved than you can possibly imagined. If this issue is not resolved promptly, I will file complaints with the FCC, the FTC, the CFPB, and the California Department of Consumer Affairs - all of which have taken a supreme interest as of late in companies that employ deceptive and abusive practices that harm consumers financially. I will forward my complaint to the BBB, as well as my local television news consumer activist (Stanley Roberts loves this type of case!), and also post my case to every social media outlet that I can find. If that's not enough, I'm more than happy to file a complaint against Verizon in small claims court. So, Verizon, you can either correct my bill and we can move forward with a happy relationship, or you can deal with all of my complaints. Either way, you will not be getting $7k from me.
Do the right thing.
I can completely understand your frustration...and I wish you the best of luck. But as a Finance Manager, trust me, a person with great credit taking a ding on their report for an amount of such will have a heck of an impact...more than you probably are aware of. Will it stop you from having credit extended to you...probably not...but it will have a significant impact on your score and 99% of all lending institutions don't rely on human eyes to view a credit report...it's all automated. A credit score is assigned and an interest rate it reflects such. Very little a human can do to get it altered...trust me, I know.
Fight a good fight with VZW if you so desire...but don't take a perfect credit score and ruin it over this situation. Even if VZW at some point corrects this issue...getting a TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax to correct an error is tough...really tough...you'd probably have better luck finding a ship at an airport than having them actually correct an error. I know $7K is a lot to hand over...especially if you're unsure of getting it back...but as crazy as it may seem, and I know it does, excellent credit takes years to build and only 1 bad month to ruin...and it lingers for YEARS! Again, good luck!
If you can I would get a loan or use credit cards to bring the account current. A balance of of $7,000 spread across credit cards or a loan is much better than a past due balance of $7,000 which has gone to collections. I would look up consumer advocates to assist you with VZW.
Is a written dispute and arbitration even an available option? I've not seen nor heard (from CS) that that is an option here. Do you have any information you can share on how to instigate arbitration with Verizon? That would definitely be an option I would consider.
pdoodle, it's important to us that we set the right billing expectations for you when traveling internationally. We do recommend that you add the $25.00 100 MB Global data plan to your Smartphone line. As a reflection of our commitment to you, text message alerts are sent to your device to advise when you have exceeded the allowance. You would be billed $25.00 for every 100 MB's that you use. Do you remember recieving these alerts?
You mentioned that you removed the Global data plan online upon your return. When removing this plan during your billing cycle, that 100 MB allowance will be prorated. The disclosure of our billing process is provided to you at My Verizon when making changes to your account. We apologize for any inconvenience this billing matter may have caused you and hope that this information is helpful you.
For more information regarding our Global Services, click http://vz.to/1rt7Fn9
Follow us on Twitter @VZWSupport
Yes, I did receive the text message alerts confirming that the Global Data plan was in place, and I also received the three additional alerts when I exceeded the 100MB allotments. I have no problem with the four $25 charges I incurred during the trip. It's the fact that the Global Data plan was somehow retroactively cancelled after I returned from my trip, which caused me to be billed close to $7,000 for foreign data roaming charges instead of the $100 charge for the Global Data plan. This is a highly unfair billing practice, if not fraudulent. Other than this post, I have not yet heard back from Verizon Customer Service as promised, nor has my account been credited or otherwise corrected. Verizon has now suspended my service because they say I'm past due for the $7,000
We appreciate you reaching out to us. We want make sure we work together on this issue. I have sent you a private message. Please respond to this and we can continue to work on this.
Follow us on twitter @VZWSupport