There are a few things that are particularly grating about Verizon's new $2 charge for one-time over-the-phone or online bill payments. This afternoon the cellphone carrier confirmed rumors that it would begin charging customers for these types of payment options. Of course, paying for anything that was once free will anger customers. But this particular fee is truly annoying -- even the name is offensive. More like inconvenience fee.
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Two dollars is a lot of money. Verizon claims the fee will help the company pay for some of the costs incurred by single bay payments, it explained in a company statement. But even PEPCO, the most awful electric company in the (DC metro area) land charges less than that for over-the-phone payment. It's also unclear what makes these one-time payments more expensive than automatic bill pay. For some answers on this, we've reached out to the representative Verizon told us to call on the press release that came out today. He is on vacation. Credit and debit card payments cost companies money. But Verizon claims the one-time payment is the issue.
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Some of us with precarious bank accounts prefer one-time payments. Verizon points out various ways its customers can avoid fees, including automatic bill pay:
Electronic check online (My Verizon Online, My Verizon Mobile/Handset). Fee waived. Electronic check via telephone. Fee waived. Enrollment in AutoPay using credit/debit/ATM card or electronic check; fee does not apply Online from the customer’s home-banking service provider website; fee does not apply. Credit/debit/ATM card, electronic check or cash at a Bill Payment Kiosk, Panel or with a representative at a Verizon Wireless Communications Store; fee does not apply. Use of a Verizon Wireless Gift Card or Verizon Wireless device Rebate Card to pay a bill in-store, online or by telephone; fee does not apply Paper check or money order mailed to the VZW remit address on customer’s bill; fee does not apply.
Some of us like to check our bank accounts before paying our overpriced cell phone bills. Automatic bill pay gives us overdraft nightmares. We realize that's not the only way to avoid the fee. But hasn't Verizon been pushing customers away from paper payments?
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Neither Sprint nor AT&T has anything like this. We double checked with both of the other major wireless providers and neither charges extra to pay any-type of bill.
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There might be one silver lining of this new rule. This might constitute a change in contract terms, points out The Verge, meaning unsatisfied customers could break their contracts without penalties. The $2 fee might be that last straw.