Is Verizon Wireless cheating its 4G LTE MiFi customers by charging an activation fee it waived at signup?
Compare my first bill from Verizon Wireless for my new 4G LTE MiFi device with the confirmation email I received from Verizon right after I purchased the device. You’ll see in the email below that the activation fee is listed as ‘Free’ and that my first bill should reflect that. You can see from the bill above that that’s my first bill.
Verizon manager Lindsy, identification #2422512, removed the USD $35 charge, and said she checked her trouble ticket database to see if any other customers had been charged fraudulently as I believe I was. She didn’t immediately find any signs that she told me about. She did say she would file a ticket on my behalf. I spoke with her October 14, 2011 around 6pm Pacific Time.
I told Lindsy that I suspect that Verizon is charging all customers the $35 activation fee and then removing it only when customers call to complain like I did. I speculated that Verizon is doing this on such a scale that they are effectively taking possession of hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars from their customers that they are not due. I said there was no way for me to be sure without asking the public for help in sorting this out. I told Lindsy I expect no compensation for my trouble, and that I am not asking for any. I told her that if any is offered, I will return it. She said it is understandable that I want to blog and Tweet about this, and she did not try to discourage me from doing so, to her credit. I found numerous discussions about improper activation fees when I did a Google search as I was preparing this post. People are clearly upset, as I am upset.
This is such a flagrant mistake or fraud attempt, I don’t know which, that I felt duty bound to post the details and make them easy for others to find. It certainly seems like this matter might form the basis for a class action lawsuit against Verizon, as I don’t see any way for this to be isolated to just me, from what I know of programming and big companies.
Here’s the complete text of the Verizon confirmation email to me. I bolded the two lines for emphasis so you can see the email said clearly and twice that the activation fee has been waived, and that would appear on the first bill. You can see the first bill above and that an activation fee is listed but there is no matching credit:
Thank you for shopping at VerizonWireless.com.
Your order has been received and is subject to final credit approval. Pre-orders will ship when the item becomes available. We reserve the right to limit quantities. Customer signature is required at the time of delivery. You cannot change your shipping address after you submit the order. We will contact you if we need additional information to complete your order or if the item is out of stock or no longer available. If you have any questions, contact us at InternetOrders@Verizonwireless.com . Be sure to include your order reference number.
For your convenience:
Check the status of your order online: http://www.verizonwireless.com/b2c/orderstatus/OrderStatusForm
ORDER DATE: 09/17/11
PAYMENT METHOD: VISA XXXX-XXXX-XXXX-1045
SHIP TO: BILL TO:
Kevin L Warnock Kevin L Warnock
113 WARREN DRIVE 113 WARREN DRIVE
SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94131 SAN FRANCISCO, CA 94131
(415) 661-5600 (415) 661-5600
Calling Plan 1:
1 Mobile Broadband – 5 GB (2-year contract):
Recurring monthly charges $ 50.00
One-time activation fee (charge & credit appears on 1st bill) Free
1 Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L -regularly $99.$ 49.99*
Included accessories for Verizon Wireless 4G LTE Mobile Hotspot MiFi 4510L:
Battery, Wall Charger, Connect Card, USB Cable,
Protective Pouch, Documentation Kit
*An instant online discount has been applied to the phone price and cannot be combined with mail-in rebate debit card offers.
SUMMARY OF CHARGES:
Total recurring monthly access & service charges: $ 50.00
Total one-time charge on your first monthly bill: $ 0.00
Due now: detail of total charges to be billed to credit card
Subtotal: $ 49.99
Taxes, Governmental Surcharges & Fees: $ 22.95
CA State Sales Tax* $ 16.20
CA Local Sales Tax* $ 6.75
Total charges to be billed to credit card: $ 72.94
In California, sales tax is calculated on the full retail price of the device, not the discounted price you pay. In Massachusetts and Nevada, sales tax is calculated on the inventory cost of the device.
*The sales tax charged on your device was based on $269.99.
Enjoy the ease and convenience of My Verizon online! Check minutes used, view and pay your bill, get answers to Frequently Asked Questions, and much more. Register today at http://www.verizonwireless.com/myverizon. When you don’t have computer access, you can get basic account information by dialing *611 + Send (airtime free) and selecting automated options.