Help w/Verizon Wireless - $3193 phone bill

tulipsFebruary 26, 2010

We just received an email from Verizon Wireless for a $3,193.00 phone bill - 1 month. Verizon said that we were over on our data usage and "should have" been on the unlimited data usage plan for $5 more per month! Ugly news is that Ruggero called on the 2/15 and was told that there was a text message mention of data. Text message was less than $2.00 over. We could have UPGRADED on 2/15 and "saved" ourselves from the large phone bill. If anyone knows how to take care of this...PLEASE HELP. Thanks...Verizon has offered us a "$1,000.00" courtesy credit!!

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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

No suggestion here, but how many hours of data was used to run up a bill like that. I'm guessing too that you (or someone) wasn't aware that there was a limit on data usage before paying extra.

Ugly news is that Ruggero called on the 2/15 and was told that there was a text message overage.
I'm curious too, who or what is Ruggero?

Does your contract state that you would be notified before going over on text and data or is it something you just have to check on and/or watch yourself?

At best, might Verizon let you pay the balance off with no interest? And keep the phone service if you really need all that.

Someone I know had a similar situation where she had a limited number of 'anytime' minutes and not doing the math or checking how many she and her partner were using, ended up with an $1800.00 bill with Verizon Wireless before Verizon shut down their phones. The person never paid the bill, and now has bad credit, and can never apply for local Verizon phone service in her name.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 9:03AM
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It might be a good idea to contact your local public utility commission.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 5:57PM
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First, do you agree that the usage is correct? Be honest--but if there is a question, ask Verizon to provide documentation of the usage (exactly when, for how long etc.)
I have had 3 incidents (over the past 25 years) where I was billed for services that in fact I hadn't used--all of them with phone companies--and fortunately was able to prove my claims. But I did have to file complaints with the state utilities commission to get them resolved.

One of the incidents did involve Verizon billing for text messaging that hadn't occured. That was a hard one to fight, but I did, successfully. I now use a prepaid phone and still never text.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2010 at 8:07PM
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Thank you for your comments. I have done more research on the internet and it seems like this is not an uncommon occurence. One person had a $5,000 bill from Verizon. One person took them to Small Claims Court in Texas because they repeatedly charged him 10x his actual usage each month which sent him over his limit into overage charges.

We are signed up for a service through Verizon that notifies us of potential overages. We recieved a text message on 2/15. My husband phoned and was told that it was a text messaging issue (about $2.00 at the time), and assured him it was NOT anything to do with data usage.

I am expecting to hear back from Verizon next week. This is clearly, to me, a Verizon employee error. If the Verizon employee had been doing her job correctly, she would have suggested putting us on an unlimited plan for an extra $5.00 per month when my husband originally called. This suggestion would have made the $3200 bill never happen.

Thanks again. I will look into the public utilities commission. That is a very useful suggestion!

    Bookmark   February 27, 2010 at 1:39PM
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Something seems amiss here. If I'm reading your message correctly, "we were over on our data plan" that seems to imply that you have a data plan, just not a unlimited one. Assuming $3,000 of the bill is for the data and VZW is charging 20¢ per megabyte of additional data (based on their current, personal pricing plans), that works out to something like 15 gigabytes of data, which is a HUGE amount for phone.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 10:29AM
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I have a very limited understanding of bytes so you are way ahead of me on this, Mike. The usage came from my husband listening to the internet radio on the way to/from work (about 30 minute drive each way). His car stereo was out of commission. If that is a huge amount for a phone, how would we know that? We are able to check usage on the smartphone but it is never consistent nor real time. 6 days ago it was 6000KB, 3 days ago it read 100000MB. Seems like something screwy going on.

Our main issue is that we had signed up for a free service from Verizon to notify us before an overage occured. The service worked but the Verizon employee did not. My husband was told that the overage was from texting (about $2.00 at the time) and said data usage was fine. At that time, if the Verizon employee had been doing her job correctly, she would have told my husband that data usage was the problem and we could have upgraded to an unlimited plan for a mere $5.00 extra per month. Not aware of many people who would knowingly pass up a $5.00 charge in lieu of a $3200 charge.

Now that I'm on this issue, I've found out that the FCC has a huge investigation on the cell phone giants. Our problem is a common one and has lead to personal credit being destroyed and financial hardship. The cell phone industry is hiding behind "knowing your contract" and the average consumer being able to comprehend the difference between a B, MB, KB,etc...and understanding which prgrams/sites use how much data. Smartphone usage has skyrocketed since we started with Verizon in 2008. Our plan at $24.99 per month for data usage does not even exist anymore. We have had no problems in the past because the smartphone was just used for email and occaisional internet access.

I have contacted Verizon about this issue by phone, email and mail. I have filed a grievance with the FCC. We are hoping for a positive resolution to this but my research on the internet has found no satisfied customers who have been caught in a similar issue as we are today. I was hoping that someone from the Gardenweb would have some insight on how to approach this so we aren't just passed from one "underling" to another with lots of wasted time and no resolution.

I don't know many people who would be able to afford $100 per day for cell phone usage. Verizon could shut off people's access at a certain point to avoid incurring such astronomical bills. Instead, they allow their customers to hang themselves over a little techno music to make the LA commute go smoother.

    Bookmark   February 28, 2010 at 4:32PM
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As stated contact your State utility commission. FCC will just have Verizon call you and discuss. Your problem is common because people don't read what they sign for and just pay attention to what they want to hear. Sorry but if you actually have your partner review what was told to him he probably was asked if he wanted to consider other programs. If he said no, which is likely, the employee was not obligated to discuss anything other than the $2.00 overage.

If the utility commission does nothing what happens after that is up to you. Getting the car stereo fixed after paying what you can negotiate with Verizon is a start then as soon as you can switch carriers.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 1:30AM
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Well, I do have to say that you really can't hold a Verizon employee at fault for NOT selling you a product, especially if you didn't ask for the product, and the product would make them less money. The fact that the plan that you have isn't sold anymore means nothing. And it is not Verizon's job to monitor your use and cut you off--that is your responsibility. It is a free country and you have the right to hang yourself over a little techno music. Someone else might be unhappy if they were cut off.
Sounds like you had the capability to monitor your usage yourself, if not precisely at least enough to know you were using a lot. If you didn't understand, who's fault is that?

Since you bought the product and signed the contract you need to educate yourself about bytes/KB/MB now if you want to fight this bill. You have a valid complaint only if you either didn't really use that much or possibly over the failure to notify. Figure out how much data is used to listen to the music on his drive one way--multiple that by how many times he did that for a rough idea of most of your actual use.

Finding these other reasons to complain about Verizon won't help you.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 2:08PM
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I generally agree with raee. Did you or did you not know what service you had? You clearly know what plan you have if you knew you had a $25 plan that is no longer available. It seems that you already know you didn't act as an educated consumer and are looking advice to get out of a bill that you are actually responsible for.

"We are signed up for a service through Verizon that notifies us of potential overages"

I looked into the controls they have available, and I didn't see data as one of the options to offer an alert on (which is odd, I agree, since they do offer alerts and limits for minutes and texting). If they do not offer the service, it is up to the consumer to self-monitor if they are concerned about such things. When I had new services with them, I made sure to check and double check the usage and charges during that first month (which can all be done free right from your phone).

Dial (not text) the following, wait for an answer and hang up for immediate, free text messages:

#bal - gives balance
#min - gives summary of minutes used
#data - gives text and data summary

I use these all the time...

Good luck to you in this, I hope you can work something out with husband has a smart phone and his usage for the last 2 weeks was 73MB and he doesn't stream music. He has the unlimited plan, but Verizon charges $2/MB at least on the plan we have if you do not have an unlimited plan.

    Bookmark   March 1, 2010 at 4:55PM
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I see by the responses after my last posting that either I am a terrible communicator (which is very possible) or people in this forum don't take the time to look at what was actually said before posting pseudo-informed comments.

1. Found out during the phone conversation to VW that our original data plan no longer exists. At the time we purchased our contracts, our plan was the top of the line. It seems as if people are using their smartphones more and more like computers these days and the data usage has skyrocketed. No irresponsibility on our part as far as our contract is concerned. Data usage was never a problem until my husband started listening for a few weeks to the internet radio.

2. We have a text message from VW informing us of the potential overage. That is why my husband called VW to find out what the overage was. He was told it was a TEXTING issue. Specifically asked about data and was MISINFORMED by the employee. I don't see where he is at fault in this situation.

3. My husband started checking his data usage regularly after his initial call to VW about the potential overage text. It is neither in real time nor accurate. He has even been given a message saying that the service wasn't able and he needed to "check back later".

"You people" are just inane here. I was reaching out for help during a stressful time and mostly found accusations about being stupid and irresponsible. I should have stopped right away but had stupid and irresponsible belief that someone out there would actually have something intelligent and useful to say to resolve a stressful situation.

Please...don't waste your time responding to this message. After 10 years of enjoying gardenweb, I've had it. I won't be checking back.

Oh... BTW...Verizon called yesterday and gave us a $3000 credit for the overage on the data usage. Call it luck or justice...I really don't care.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 12:50AM
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look, honest mistakes happen and to be honest it should be the law that a some threshhold you are automatically converted to the 'unlimited' plan if you have been a customer for some period of time. I think once you incur maybe $100 it should bump you over. I do think if they bump you over you should have to commit to that unlimited plan for some period of time...otherwise the system could be milked by 'new' customers each month.

It sounds like you were on some sort of unlimited plan or and they changed the rules and changed the fundamentals of the plan you had. If such was the case, thats your out.

Alternatively, you just never really understood the rules and you are at fault irregardless of what the dude said on the long a s you had a way to check...those account balances are usually accaurate to the day. Still if at fault thru an honest mistake I still think my threshold rule should apply.

It sounds like the verizon dude was talking about the texts and that was not the problem. Certainly things were not made clear because who in their right mind would not switch plans if they knew they were running up such a bill.

Technically, you were likely at fault but that technicality is the kind of thing that would give a company a bad name.

I would not have paid the bill and took my chances with the credit hit. If my credit was outstanding, it likely could be explained away.

The credited you, that is what is important.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2010 at 1:45PM
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...another about an accoutn option that YOU can set that FREEZES your account when you hit the max...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 12:07PM
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Andrea - they do have that. It is called Usage Controls and it is $5/month.

Tulips - you did leave some pertinent information out, such as what did the message say and what were the details of your data plan which makes it hard to help you formulate a plan of attack. Also, if you were certain or even suspicious that the message you did get was about data, why didn't you push the person to give you more information? Ask him what your limit was with your plan and what your current usage was, etc...especially since you knew someone had been using more data than usual by streaming music. If you think the person is not giving you the right info, push until you get someone who does.

I am glad they gave you the credit.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2010 at 2:21PM
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it absurd you have to spend $5 a month to insure you do not overshoot your minutes/text/data etc.....its simply a scam tomake more $$$$ on you...shame on ATT!

    Bookmark   March 6, 2010 at 9:46PM
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andrelaplume, I am not a big fan of any of the phone companies--that is why I use only a prepaid phone--but they are all businesses and are in business to make money. So to charge you for a service/product that they are offering (and is an expense to them to offer) not a scam or absurd, I think.

They do make errors in their billing and in adding services not requested, etc, and it is right and proper to fight those things.

tulips, you WERE given several solid suggestions on how to deal with your situation--get VZN to prove/document that you used that much data, try to figure out on your own how much you would have used listening to the music to try to see if you could claim VZN error, contact the state public utilities commission. You may have a valid complaint about the notification service as well--I don't know, but you received support for that approach as well.

It is when people veer off into trying to find other reasons why the company they are dealing with is wrong--ie, other customers have had problems, or an employee didn't try to steer them into another plan, or the company should have been their nanny and cut them off, or the FCC is investigating all the companies, or the plan that they have doesn't exist anymore and really was only suitable for the way they USED to use their phone, or the customer doesn't understand the product they are using so it isn't his fault--all arguements that tulips brought up in this thread--that becomes not helpful to her case.

She is indeed lucky that VZN credited the overages. Let's hope someone else has learned from this and can avoid a similar problem.

    Bookmark   March 9, 2010 at 12:38PM
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For what it is worth, I just got a smartphone and downloaded Pandora. It had a warning before you ever started the application stating that it uses excessive bandwith and they highly recommend you get an unlimited plan if you intend to use the application.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2010 at 4:42PM
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somebody's gotten an $18,000 phone bill and it is all over the news now... use that to your advantage... Class Action??

    Bookmark   May 12, 2010 at 3:06AM
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