"At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.
Many customers reacted negatively to the news, complaining on Twitter and setting up online petitions protesting the new fee.
“It’s not just about the money….It’s that Verizon thinks it can do anything to its customers, and that we’re powerless to stop it. (Spoiler alert: We’re not.)," said Molly Katchpole in an online statement on Change.org calling on Verizon Wireless customers to sign her petition against the fee. Katchpole said she is a Verizon customer.
Her final comment refers to the vocal opposition that she helped lead against Bank of America when it announced plans to charge debit card users $5 when they used their cards for purchases. The bank later canceled the fee after the outpouring of complaints.
"Time will tell if this is Verizon's 'Bank of America' moment," said Tim Newman, senior organizer with Change.org in a press release. Change.org is a website that provides sites for social change.
It's not just customers who are concerned. The Federal Communications Commission is now getting involved. An FCC official said in a emailed statement, "We're concerned about Verizon's actions and are looking into the matter."
Verizon had said its customers could avoid the new “convenience fee” through other payment options including monthly, automatic payments or using paper checks.
“It’s completely outrageous to charge somebody a fee to pay their bill,” said Ed Mierzwinski with the Public Interest Research Group based in Washington.
“It’s fee to pay your bill, it’s not a fee for better service, it's not a fee for faster Verizon connectivity it’s not a fee for fewer dropped calls it’s just a fee to pay your bill,” he said.
Mierzwinski said Congress has rejected similar actions by credit card companies and suspects that it could do the same for telephone companies.
New York-based Wireless Verizon provides service to 91 million customers. As of the September 30, 2011, the company earned $14.2 billion, up 2.3 percent from the same period a year earlier.