Frank Rogala

How Verizon Charged Me $1,200 For Nothing And Then Legally Kept The Money

This is the story of how I discovered that Verizon Wireless had erroneously charged me $50 a month for over two years (totaling $1,200) – for nothing, and then upon my discovering and disputing the charges, used a little known clause in their subscriber contract to avoid paying back one penny. Read closely, this could happen to you! About three years ago I purchased a Verizon 3G mifi card. I don't like contracts and wanted the option to suspend service so I paid something like $350 for the card up front. Expensive, yes! But I expected to suspend the card for 6 months each year and, as I remember it, if I had acquired the card under a normal contract, there wouldn't have been an option to suspend the coverage without onerous fees for turning the account off and then back on again. About a year after I had the card I was called by someone from Verizon. The breathless salesman told me that I could update my 3G mifi card to a new 4G card. It would be the same monthly fee and I would love the increased speed. I specifically asked him if the 4G service was available in Anaheim, CA, Salt Lake City, UT and Mackinaw City, MI (three places I frequent). He made a show of putting me on hold to check and then came back on the line to announce “Yes! It is available in all three locations.” At this point I had left the original card in service for the entire prior year, not turning it off as I had expected. So even though acquiring the new card meant I would have a contract (and would not have the option to suspend the account), I was open to trying it out. Soon after receiving the card I went on a trip that went to all three locations (Anaheim, CA, Salt Lake City, UT and Mackinaw City, MI). I found that 4G was NOT yet available in ANY of those locations. Having a new card that gave me no advantage over the one I already owned, now under the obligation of a 2 year contract, and knowing that the representative had probably knowingly lied to me, I was very upset. I immediately called and arranged for the return of the new 4G card. I followed all of the instructions and promptly mailed it to the proper address for returning it. This was accomplished within a couple weeks of originally receiving the card. I put the existing mifi card, that I owned, back into service on my business's credit card, as I ended up turning it over to an office location that had no other access to the internet. So at this point, I was still a Verizon customer through my family's business use of the old card. About this time I became ill. I was bedridden for much of the time over the next two years, and not able to work much. I had one credit card that was mainly used for automatic payments (phone bills, car lease, etc.) that since it wasn't actively used, was set up for automatic payments itself. I wasn't able to actively keep up on my own finances and those close to me helped out by making sure things were taken care of til I was on my feet again. No one looked at the automatic payment card. Cut to two years later: Now back on my feet but still requiring the help and support of close friends and family members, a friend was going over my finances. He noticed a Verizon charge for $50 a month on my personal credit card. I thought I had slipped up on getting the mifi card moved to the business's account so I immediately contacted my family's business office manager. I told her I had been personally paying the internet bill for one of the offices, which I had intended to put on the business's credit card. I put together an excel spreadsheet showing that I was due a refund of $1,200. When she saw the charge she informed me that “we have been paying that charge on the company card for two years!” I looked at the statement and saw that she was right! I immediately called Verizon billing. With a bit of digging what I found out was that even though I had returned the 4G mifi card, and Verizon had received it, and provided no wireless services, they had never stopped charging me $50 a month for it. At this point, the total amount I had paid for NOTHING was $1,200. The representative was very kind and kept apologizing for how long it was taking to look up the appropriate records and then was horrified to have to explain to me that when I signed the contract for the mifi card, there was a clause that said that any dispute having to do with charges had to be made within six months. If no dispute was made within six months, then Verizon was not responsible for ANY refunds – even if the mistake was their fault (and it was). She said she had never seen anything as bad as this situation, and she was very helpful in putting me in touch with a supervisor. When the supervisor came on the phone, she coldly explained that there would be no refund, that it was the policy and that I had agreed to the contract and even though I was still at this point a loyal Verizon customer, that nothing could be done. When I asked as nicely as possible, something along the line of “so Verizon made a mistake and charged me, a loyal customer, for over two years for nothing, and you will not refund a penny?” She said, in a word, “yes, that is correct.” The supervisor did finally agree to refund six months of the charges (about $300 of the total $1,200), which she made very clear to me that they were under no obligation to do. I was thunderstruck, I could not believe that a company that I continued to do business with had basically stolen $900 from me. The basic line was that it was my obligation to report any dispute within six months and by not having done it within that period, I had foregone any hope of getting a refund. I have to say, I have not received the $300 refund check as of yet, so at this point I consider the total amount stolen from me to be $1,200. This is not an old story, this just happened to me a few days ago. This is the current policy of Verizon Wireless. All I can say is “BEWARE!”

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