Just a few days after dealing with its third consecutive network outage this month, Verizon Wireless makes a risky decision and introduces a $2 convenience fee. At a time when keeping your customers happy is essential for a business, Verizon likes to take risks.
On Thursday, one day after announcing it was starting an investigation regarding the latest outage of its LTE network, Verizon Wireless, the largest cellphone company in the U.S., announced it will start charging $2 for every payment subscribers make over the phone or online with their credit cards.
The fee will start January 15, but it won’t apply to electronic check payments or to automatic credit card payments set up through Verizon’s AutoPay system. The company referred to its new charge as a “convenience fee” and it is obviously a convenient incentive to get customers to switch to its AutoPay system.
Verizon Wireless spokesman Thomas Pica said: “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 (…) and who choose not to use the other options available to them”.
Obviously, negative feedback from customers soon occurred. Twitter is flooded with customers disagreeing with the company’s decision, while other users already started petitions and threats to use paper to cost the mobile carrier even more money.
David Samberg, another spokesman for Verizon, explained that the new fee is going to cover the costs of those last-minute payments. He also added that the company doesn’t “want anyone to have to pay this”.
But, some of its users already pointed out that most of the customers making last minute payments are the sort of people who are having difficulties living paycheck to paycheck.
Consumer blog Engadget said Verizon’s new charge is “downright ludicrous”. It also writes this charge “has to be one of the most consumer-unfriendly policy changes since the carrier boosted its early termination fee for advanced devices”.
Other carries have tried similar approaches to extend their AutoPay system. AT&T Inc. offers a $10 gift card for clients who start using AutoPay, while Sprint Nextel Corp. charges its customers with $5 per month if they don’t set up automatic payments.