We recently filed a a Consumer Complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) against Verizon. While our complaint centered on wireless internet, keep in mind that consumers can also file complaints with the FCC regarding their phone, television, and even radio services. There are extra protections for those with disabilities and for those in need of emergency services (e.g., 911) as well.
The basis for our complaint against Verizon involved the following set of facts:
- After our introductory contract with Verizon Fios expired, we were charged over $150 per month for cable and internet (one cable box and modem!). Granted, we were paying for HBO, Showtime, and a host of other channels we did not watch or need. It was a no brainer to cancel.
- We canceled cable on October 16, 2017, two days before the beginning of the next billing cycle that started on October 18th. We did not terminate internet at this time because we did not want to be without it before finding a replacement.
- When we canceled our internet 10 days into the billing cycle on October 28th, we did not think anything of it. There was no disclosure or notice either on documentation or from the customer service representative that led us to think we would be charged for anything more than 10 days of service.
- After our billing cycle ended on November 18th, we received a bill for $94.50. Thinking it was an honest mistake and that they simply forgot to prorate the bill, we called. The thirty minute wait on hold was the best part of the experience.
- A customer service representative pleasantly answered the call and asked how I was doing. I stated the issue, expecting it to proceed in a manner consistent with other cancellations I’ve made for internet and cable in the past. You can imagine how shocked I was to hear that it’s actually Verizon Policy to charge the entire monthly amount for internet even if you cancel one day into your billing cycle. One day! They refused to prorate and demanded we pay the full 30 day amount for 10 days of internet service.
- I asked where we were notified about this policy. Surely it was in the contract we “signed” or the billing statements we received. Right? Wrong. Instead, the disclaimer (or “policy”) is somewhere on the Verizon website. After conducting a few searches, I could not find it (it’s hard to find the Verizon customer service phone number these days, let alone a 30 day internet cancellation policy)
- We will be paying $94.50 to Verizon to try to forget the problem. That’s almost $10 per day for 10 days of internet. Thanks, Verizon.
This type of corporate policy is terribly unjust. It forced us, and continues to force thousands of others, to pay for services that are not wanted and in most cases, no longer even enjoyed (because they’ve already been disconnected!). Verizon’s refusal to prorate our bill effectively served as a penalty for us cancelling the service.
With so few options in the marketplace for cable and internet, it’s impossible to have even a minuscule amount of bargaining power over contractual language. If the FCC continues to permit 30 day cancellation policies with no hopes of proration, the average consumer will only suffer. These types of policies force you to timely cancel within a small window, perhaps a day or two in advance of your next billing cycle, to ensure you are not charged for services you already disconnected.
The FCC should ban this practice and force internet service providers and cable companies to charge customers only prorated amounts for services rendered following cancellation. Otherwise, consumers lose while corporations like Verizon benefit from making money on services they forced upon consumers or did not even have to provide.
Although we are still stuck with a competing internet service provider, we only pay $49 per month, we canceled our cable, and we feel great.
Your move, FCC.