Verizon confirmed Thursday that starting Jan. 15, it will charge its customers a $2 "convenience fee" every time they make a one-time payment to the wireless carrier online or over the phone. (Customers who pay by mail or who sign up for automatic bill payments won't be charged.) Verizon's customers are not pleased, flooding Twitter and other internet forums with virtual howls of outrage over the "greedy $2 fee," and threats to ditch Verizon for a rival wireless carrier. Similar backlashes have damaged Netflix and Bank of America in recent months, forcing BofA to cancel a proposed $5 monthly debit card fee. Will vociferous protesters get Verizon to back down, too?
Verizon just opened a can of worms: Customers have every reason to be "furious" that the company is trying to slip yet another shady fee into their already crammed bill, says Erika Morphy at Forbes. And I wouldn't be surprised if the $2 fee gets "shouted down by its critics, much as Bank of America's did." It's not like Verizon engenders "fierce customer loyalty or devotion." In fact, "this could get ugly for Verizon very quickly if consumers start asking themselves other questions about its policies" and fees.
"Verizon is heading for a Bank of America moment"
Like it or not, customers will pay: Verizon is hardly the first company trying to push its customers to sign up for automated bill pay, says Matt Stanford at Experts Exchange. But despite the "legitimate outrage" over its "bullying" tactics, "the unfortunate reality is that, unless Verizon customers have the available funds to pay an exorbitant early cancellation fee," they won't switch carriers. If Verizon wants its "already handcuffed customers" to surrender another $2 a month, they can.
"An inconvenient fee"
Giving Verizon what it wants is the best revenge: The new $2 fee is "preposterous for a few reasons," not the least of which is that "it almost certainly costs Verizon more to handle your bill if you pay by check/mail," says Kyle Wagner at Gizmodo. So "those of us who like to give our statement a scan before firing off a wad of currency to Verizon" shouldn't gripe online, we should make Verizon pay, literally, by mailing in our payments. "Let's bury them under a mountain of paper and see how they like that."
"Verizon will charge you extra to pay your bill online"
Editor's note: Since this story was published, Verizon has dropped its plan to implement this $2 fee.