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Verizon Adds $2 Charge For Paying Your Bill Online 562

Posted by timothy
from the this-makes-me-unhappy dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from geek.com (based on a report at Droid Life) that makes me consider quitting or at least suspending the very expensive service 3G data service I get from Verizon: "With 2012 about to start, it seems Verizon has decided paying your bill online or over the phone is now worthy of an extra charge. So, from January 15, anyone choosing to pay their monthly bill using either method will incur a $2 charge. Verizon is classing the charge as a 'convenience fee' which translates into them deciding allowing you to pay either online or over the phone is a convenience. They also explain in the FAQ above that the fee allows them, 'to continue to support these bill payment options.' Really, Verizon? When did offering online payments or accepting phone calls from customers get so much more expensive?"
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Verizon Adds $2 Charge For Paying Your Bill Online

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  • Ah, America! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by InterestingFella (2537066) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:49AM (#38524984)
    This is completely reverse to what companies in my country have started doing. For a long time companies have started pushing people to use internet billing, and if you still want paper bill then that costs extra (because it really does, with printing and mailing). Sending invoice or auto-billing via internet saves them a lot, so I'm not sure I understand why Verizon would want to do thi.. oh right, more $$$.
    • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Aladrin (926209) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:51AM (#38525008)

      It's probably a wash, actually. Credit card charges will probably cost them as much as mailing that paper, which would be paid by check instead of credit card, usually.

      I think it's wrong and anti-customer, but there are actually reasons and it's not just a money-grab.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        Why are you even using credit cards to pay bills? In Europe bank transfers are used for such and are entirely free for consumers. Companies have to pay some if they have huge amount of transfers. And that is within the whole SEPA-zone (most of western european countries) too, so it's not an issue between different jurisdictions and size.
        • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Informative)

          by cyberfunk2 (656339) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:59AM (#38525108)

          There's two obvious reasons for this: Points on my credit card (i.e. free money/miles/ etc), and convienience. It allows me to watch only my credit card bill and pay it once. Also, there's a little bit of money to made on the float (not much these days w/ the low interest rates).

          • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Interesting)

            by hazem (472289) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:04PM (#38526654) Journal

            The other obvious reason is that if the company taking the money takes too much. If they "accidentally" bill you for a year of service instead of a month, and you have this coming from your checking account, you suddenly may not be able to pay your rent/mortgage and might even have checks bounce.

            Sure you might get it all sorted out with the biller and your bank but in the mean time it can cause a lot of problems.

            Using a credit-card account as a buffer protects your checking account from these kinds of accidents. Plus banks tend to be more responsive to credit card problems than they are with checking account problems. With the first, it's their money that's messed with, with the latter it's yours.

        • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:02AM (#38525142) Journal

          Because the American financial system is deliberately inefficient in order to extract as much wealth from us as possible.

        • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Informative)

          by fedos (150319) <allen.bouchard@nOsPaM.gmail.com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:20AM (#38525390) Homepage
          Because in the US the banks actually discourage transfers by making them inconvenient and costly. For example, Bank of America charges $25 to send a domestic wire transfer and $12 to receive one.
        • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:22AM (#38526130) Homepage Journal

          "In Europe bank transfers are used for such and are entirely free for consumers"

          Hi, this is America. Not Europe.

          They charge us because they can. Bank transfers cost money. Money orders cost money. Everythign costs money.

          And it will CONTINUE until the EU gets off its ass and invades the USA.

          But you people won't do that, you're too placid and too cowardly, which means we'll be taking over your countries soon enough, just like we did Iraq.

          And then YOU will be paying for bank transfers.

      • by multimediavt (965608) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:09AM (#38525238)
        I have mine tied directly to my checking account and payments are done as ACH at no cost to me. Verizon also pushed me toward One Bill and then paperless billing to save the environment, and now they want to charge me $2.00 a month to do their job: I'm sorry, when I enter all the data and submit my bill every month *I AM DOING THE WORK FOR YOU!* It should not cost them a dime for me to submit my bill, directly to their systems, online.
        • by devman (1163205) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:13AM (#38525974)
          If you read the fine article you'd know ACH transactions are exempt. So are all payments that are set up as recurring in Verizion's system, including credit cards. The only thing that gets charged as far as I can tell (and I could be wrong about this) is one off credit card payments. This is really a non-story.
          • by SkimTony (245337)

            I haven't read the article, but I guessed (and have apparently guessed correctly) that this is exactly what they meant. Companies like being paid in full, when they decide to be paid. They love consistency. So, they're going to encourage you to give them direct access to your money so they can take what they want, when they want.

            This is a non-surprise, but I'd hardly call it a non-story. The summary is horrible, but this is Slashdot.

      • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Informative)

        by jovius (974690) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:18AM (#38525362)

        Credit cards or checks are not involved at all at least in Finland. I don't know if using them is even possible. The company sends a bill by email or then the monthly amount is directly charged from the given bank account. The customer, bank and a company can have a direct charging agreement. I'm also able to postpone the due date without an extra charge at least with my provider. Practically all of the bills are paid online and there isn't a culture of credit in the same sense as in the US. Anything paper related comes with an extra charge. The bank I use doesn't even provide cash services in their offices.

        • by houghi (78078)

          In Belgium phonebills can be payed by automated bank order or by credit cards. Depends on the company you use. No charges for this.
          Sometimes paper will cost extra. Sometimes not having a non-automatic payment will cost extra.

          The reason is that going after money for non-payers is pretty expensive, yet they can't NOT go after them. People forgetting to pay their bills because they were on a holiday or for whatever reason means you could block the service, but then you need to pay the agent that answer that ph

      • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Insightful)

        by g0bshiTe (596213) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:30AM (#38525508)
        CC or debit charges cost them more really? So instead of saving them man hours by using an automated system to pay my bill, you reason that the extra cc or debit charges are costing them the same amount and that is the justification for charging a "convenience fee", yet I can walk into any Verizon store and pay my bill with the same CC or debit card and not pay that $2 fee, but they are still paying the same amount to run the card.

        I disagree, this is sure looks like a money grab.

        I'd be more likely to believe the $2 fees they collect from people paying by phone or online are put into a trust in the event of a data breach. Sort of a "ok the bad news, there was a data breach and we are getting fined, the good news we set aside a trust fund by charging phone pay and online pay customers a $2 fee, so the fine is covered".
      • by firex726 (1188453)

        Many larger companies will have set deals in place, where it wont matter if they get 10K or 1M transactions either way they will pay a set amount for the transactions. Though you do need a lot of to make it economical.

        My company has this in place and we are nowhere near as large as Verizon.

    • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Leebert (1694) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:58AM (#38525096)

      This is completely reverse to what companies in my country have started doing.

      Oh, that's very much the case here in the US as well. To the point of being obnoxious.

      I still opt for paper bills and mail in checks for the folks who don't take credit cards.

      Perhaps it's because someone at Verizon Wireless was bothered at how much they were paying for credit/debit card transaction fees, and figured this was the way to recoup that cost.

      • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Informative)

        by PhotoJim (813785) <.ac.mijotohp. .ta. .mij.> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:01AM (#38525124) Homepage

        Mail them a cheque (err, check, my American friends) and make a point. If millions of customers did this, their payment processing costs would go through the roof.

        • by Dyinobal (1427207)
          How about we all just pay with pennies. Because this fee is BS.
          • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Informative)

            by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:22AM (#38526128)

            Contrary to popular belief, neither Verizon nor any other business is required to accept pennies, or any other method of payment it chooses not to, for that matter.

            The only entity that is required to honor pennies is the Federal Reserve and, by extension (I would assume), the government. So yeah, you can go down to the county treasurer's office and dump thousands of pennies on them, but show up at a local Verizon kiosk with 30 pounds of pennies and they are fully within their rights to tell you to go pound sand. They could even require you to pay them in gold if you signed a contract agreeing to do so. Hell, they could require you to pay in chocolate. There's nothing saying they have to accept the equivalent amount of currency in it's place, either; you agree to pay in gold, you are obligated to pay in gold.

            Obviously, in the interests of customer service, most businesses don't start a hissy fit over things like this, but there are limits. In my days working retail I used to turn people away with large amounts of change all the time, because I did not have the time nor resources to spend counting out pennies or dimes, being the sole employee on shift at the time, nor was I under any obligation to do so. The same principles allowing a business to deny excessively small currency like pennies are what allows them to deny large currencies, as well; we also accepted no bills larger than $20 as do many convenience stores.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by hajile (2457040)
              Wrong. From the Federal reserve FAQ http://www.federalreserve.gov/faqs/currency_12772.htm [federalreserve.gov]

              Is it legal for a business in the United States to refuse cash as a form of payment? Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled "Legal tender," states: "United States coins and currency [including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks] are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues." This statute means that all United States money as identified above is a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person, or an organization must accept currency or coins as payment for goods or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether to accept cash unless there is a state law which says otherwise.

              Basically, if something can be sent to a collections agency (in this case the internal Verizon collections agency), the it is a DEBT and thus the creditor (VerizonWireless) CANNOT refuse payment. Since payment of a Verizon bill is frequently after some or all of the service has been given, their is debt (money owed for services previous rendered). Retail is different because there is no debt owed to the retailer sinc

        • by Joce640k (829181)

          Yeah, but they won't. And Verizon knows it...

      • by Tharsman (1364603)

        Doubt it had anything to do with them trying to "recoup" anything. They just noticed how many people pay online and figured "hey, if half our customers pay online... we can get an extra 70.8 million a month by charging them 2 extra bucks for the privilege of paying us! That extra $212.4 million per quarter will look very nice in our quarterly reports!"

        • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Informative)

          by NardoPolo88 (1417637) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:19AM (#38525382)
          I think you missed the point. They are recouping the fees charged by Visa and Master Card. Those fees have recently increased by the way. This is way you can still pay on line for *FREE* if you pay though your checking account. This is also why most of the smaller restaurants in my area and I'm sure other areas of the US have $10 and $20 minimums for credit cards. It is also why my uncle, who was also a small business owner, did like it when people paid with credit cards. You really should look into where this money goes before judging verizon to harshly for trying to get some of that money back. I for one will continue to pay online as I always have. Through my checking account that they already have stored on their server.
    • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jpstanle (1604059) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:05AM (#38525184)

      It's the complete reverse in the rest of America, too. Everyone else is pushing for online payment and electronic billing because it saves on paper and postage costs.

      Verizon is the first company I've seen try to pull an asshat move like this. I think why Verizon is trying it now involves a couple things. For one, large telecoms like Verizon and AT&T have for years felt entitled to licenses to print money hand over fist, and whenever revenue drops due to market changes or technological development, their biggest priority is to find somewhere else to recoup that lost revenue. My guess here is that Verizon noticed that a majority of their customers were already paying their bills online, so they decided to start charging a fee to do it, knowing that their customer base already appreciates the convenience of online bill payment and inertia would prevent them from paying by mail. Other service providers, public utilities for example, likely have much older, entrenched, and less 'tech-savvy' customers so they need to provide incentives to move towards online billing and its associated cost savings.

      • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Informative)

        by jeffmeden (135043) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:11AM (#38525272) Homepage Journal

        It's the complete reverse in the rest of America, too. Everyone else is pushing for online payment and electronic billing because it saves on paper and postage costs.

        Verizon is the first company I've seen try to pull an asshat move like this. I think why Verizon is trying it now involves a couple things. For one, large telecoms like Verizon and AT&T have for years felt entitled to licenses to print money hand over fist, and whenever revenue drops due to market changes or technological development, their biggest priority is to find somewhere else to recoup that lost revenue. My guess here is that Verizon noticed that a majority of their customers were already paying their bills online, so they decided to start charging a fee to do it, knowing that their customer base already appreciates the convenience of online bill payment and inertia would prevent them from paying by mail. Other service providers, public utilities for example, likely have much older, entrenched, and less 'tech-savvy' customers so they need to provide incentives to move towards online billing and its associated cost savings.

        A majority of their customers certainly pay their bills online, but they do it automatically and are hence exempt from this fee. Verizon is doing something very simple, encouraging their customers to prefer the automatic process over the manual one. There is undoubtedly a price break to handling the exact same payment method month after month vs handling a unique one each time, and they know they will save more money than they will lose in pissed off customers.

      • Re:Ah, America! (Score:4, Informative)

        by AngryDeuce (2205124) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:34AM (#38526262)

        This is nothing new, I've been paying a "convenience fee" to my electric company for paying online for years now. Ditto with my cable bill.

        Hell, they even charge a "convenience fee" at the DMV office here in Wisconsin when you renew online, which doesn't make a single fucking shred of sense at all, considering that they're already understaffed at the actual DMV offices (based on the ridiculous wait I experience every time I am forced to go down there) and pay the people working the counters considerably more than most counter workers get paid. If anything, you would think that the state would be fully encouraging people to pay online, but it seems even the state isn't opposed to sucking a little extra money off the top with "convenience fees".

        I'm not saying it's right, mind you, I'm just saying that this is nothing out of the ordinary.

      • by assertation (1255714) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:01PM (#38526596)

        Ever try to pay a parking ticket or some other municipal fee online? They will charge you a "convenience fee". My guess is because they have to pay the credit card companies something.

        My guess is that will eventually change when an older generation dies off or gets online. An efficiency expert will notice that they are employing staff to handle paper based payments........for very few payments. At that point they will encourage people to pay electronically. Probably by charging a fee for paper based payments.......the way my car insurance company does.

      • by ep32g79 (538056)

        Verizon is the first company I've seen try to pull an asshat move like this.

        I've seen this before with the banks and ATM's. Initially the banks decided that ATM's allowed them to reduce their operational overhead by lowering the burden on their tellers and pushed to get customers using these machines. This worked out well for a couple years until ATM's became the de facto norm for money transactions then banks ushered in miscellaneous fees for the convenience of using an ATM billed under the guise of an added burdensome operating expense for having to maintain the ATM's.

    • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by CaptBubba (696284) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:05AM (#38525192)

      They really want you to set up an automatic funds transfer for the account instead of approving each payment individually. This is great for them and horrible for you because the funds are whisked out of your checking account regardless of if the billing is correct or not. It has the added benefit that most people will forget about it and then miss any rate increases.

      • by wcrowe (94389)

        Wish I could mod this up. This is, no doubt, the reasoning behind the move.

      • Re:Ah, America! (Score:5, Informative)

        by datavirtue (1104259) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:49AM (#38525730)

        You need a buffer between you and the people you owe money to. Getting cajoled into automatic payments is a trap. They often take place by ACH (bank draft) and you are at the mercy of the vendor for any refunds unless they draft a credit card. Watch that option slip away soon.

      • Here in France direct transfer is actually safer in that respect than CC, because chargebacks are even easier to obtain (IIRC a mere phone call as opposed to written complaint, and a longer grace period). This is mostly because creditor-issued transfers have stringent specs, it's open only to established businesses (utilities mainly), and if they don't respect the charter (i.e. delay in chargebacks, abnormally large amounts ...) their authorization can be pulled in a matter of days.

      • Absolutely. I will never, ever agree to automatic payment for anything, regardless of how much that ends up costing me in the end. I reserve the right to pay my bills in the order I see fit. If I come up a little short one month and I have a cable bill and a rent check to write, you better fucking believe the rent check is getting written first. The cable company may not like that very much, but they can, and do, charge me late fees in the off chance that this occurs.

        Based on how hard it is to get a bil

    • by Xelios (822510) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:07AM (#38525216)
      My ISP charges 3â to mail a monthly statement in the interest of cutting down on waste paper and mailing costs, so I switched to online billing a long time ago. I don't really miss it because they were kind enough to keep sending an extra envelope with advertisements and "tell your friends" incentives every month, completely free!
  • by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:50AM (#38524994)
    Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them?
    They need a small team of highly paid people instead of thousands of people across the country to collect cheques from drop boxes and cash at stores.
    If they have 1 person per store to collect cash, wouldnt they have to increase the no. by a lot to make up for the extra load created by this fee?
    • by berashith (222128) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:55AM (#38525050)

      of course it is cheaper for them, that has nothing to do with the fee. Paying online or over the phone is quicker, easier, and cheaper for the consumer, therefore more convenient. If Verizon can leverage that convenience as a premium service, then they will bill for it. There are plenty of colleges and utilities that do this same thing. Pisses me off, but at least with Verizon there is some chance of moving to another company ( in some locations) as opposed to my water bill, which I pretty much just have to suck it up.

      These are the things that made AT&T swallowing T-mobile such a bad deal. More competition actually removes this kind of crap. Fewer companies makes collusion easier, and these fees will pop up everywhere.

      • The company is charging extra if customers use a service thats cheaper for the company
        Doesnt this have a massive chance of backfiring by a large proportion of people actually walking into and clogging up stores to pay their bills in person?
        Or are phone bills so high in US that $2 is an insignificant percentage?
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:56AM (#38525070)

      Cash and cheques don't incur the same fees as online processing, which usually entail VISA/MC/AMEX/etc taking their 2% or more of the transaction in fees. In addition, they are Non Qualified transactions. This is because the card is not present, thus there is a higher likelihood that there could be a charge back, so the processing company charges an additional fee.

      I think Verizon is idiotic for adding this surcharge that is so obviously a cash grab, but I would like to dispel the idea that the online transactions are inherently cheaper. They have staff at retail outlets for sales already, so the fixed costs for the rentals are already taken into account.

  • by C_Kode (102755) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:51AM (#38525006) Journal

    Anonymous, sic'em!

  • Wait, isn't Verizon a phone company? And would you likely be making the call on their own lines? Would it be free if you called using an AT&T phone? Sprint? T-Mobile? Is this what they would prefer?
    • Re:Phone Company? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Leebert (1694) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @12:00PM (#38526594)

      Counter-intuitively, Verizon and Verizon Wireless are different companies. Verizon owns a controlling share of Verizon Wireless, but a huge chunk of VZW is owned by Vodafone. (VZW is actually a DBA (Doing Business As), the company's real name is Cellco Parnership. Go figure.)

  • Is it cheaper for them to accept a payment via mail or at the store? really? Ridiculous. This sounds like just a way to stop people using credit cards to pay, since direct debiting your checking account waives the fee.

    • by dnahelicase (1594971) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:10AM (#38525258)

      Is it cheaper for them to accept a payment via mail or at the store?

      You'll never know. Last time I got a cellphone I demanded the Verizon employee tell me what my bill would be for a normal month. Not the "45 voice + 30 data" but what the number I would actually be billed after taxes, fees, interest, gratuity, and graft. They couldn't tell me. They said there was no way to get that number until the bill was calculated because of the taxes. ATT could tell me within a nickel without any hesitation.

      Verizon has been struggling for a long time. If they don't get their activation fees, random fees, roaming charges, and payment fees - they would go broke. It's only fair that we consumers would help a struggling giant in this era where everyone is ditching their cell phones for landlines and carrier pigeons. We pay $35 to have the privilege of becoming their customer, $200 if we want to stop being a customer early - it's only fair we pay $24/year to stay their customer.

  • by bongey (974911) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:55AM (#38525052)
    The fee is waived if you pay by electronic check or auto pay. This only effects last minute payments.
    • by jbeaupre (752124) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:02AM (#38525140)

      For now.

    • by dnahelicase (1594971) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:16AM (#38525322)

      The fee is waived if you pay by electronic check or auto pay. This only effects last minute payments.

      It appears this affects online payments, even if you make them early. Last minute has nothing to do with it. It's whether or not you give Verizon the ability to take money from you every month with blanket consent.

      It's not about saving transaction fees, it's about getting consumers to stop thinking about and analyzing their bill every month. That 1.99 data fee that was pissing everyone off? Now it's just a number on your statement that's pretty close to last month. Want to call an complain about it? They already have your money. Good luck getting it back. Most people are going to sit on the phone for 30 minutes to get back $1.99. However, many people will shortpay a bill when they are sure they aren't responsible for something. If you are a person that logs in to the website every month and views your bill and schedules a payment, you are probably looking at the details. If you are an autopay person, you probably aren't - and don't even remember your online password.

      • by Shakrai (717556) *

        It's whether or not you give Verizon the ability to take money from you every month with blanket consent.

        I don't care if they have "blanket consent" to charge my credit card because I still retain the advantages of using a credit card:

        1) 25 more days before I actually have to fork over the money (float)
        2) Rewards points/cash back
        3) Chargeback protection if Verizon screws me and refuses to make it right

        They can however, go fuck themselves if they ask for blanket consent to ACH the monies out of my checking account. I hand over my ACH information to nobody. Much better to push the payments out with a billp

      • by devman (1163205)

        I've been posting this a lot in this article

        If you don't like giving that power to Verizion then don't. Use a bill paying service through you bank. Verizion will send you eBills and you can review them, approve the bill and have your bank send the funds electronically to Verizion. At no point does Verizion have any authority to debit your account.

        I do all my bills like this every month and the best part is the bank will keep the records so you can see things like the bill going up from month to month.

        If a

  • by gweihir (88907)

    All over Europe, you may have to pay a fee for not paying online, but nobody would charge you for making things cheaper for everybody.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:56AM (#38525062)

    The fee is waived for autopay.

    The economy sucks, they want all their accounts on autopay so the phone bill gets taken out before other bills if the customer's money can't pay them all.

    Beware of autopay. Once you bill is autopaid you have a lot less leverage in billing disputes.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by digitalsolo (1175321)
      I autopay with my VISA. If I need to dispute, and VZW wants to argue, I call my bank, and they handle it. Done it before.
  • Because of autopay (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 29, 2011 @09:59AM (#38525110)

    It says in the full article that they won't charge $2 if you use an electronic check or autopay. These are probably handled entirely by bank computers. This means that they get your money perfectly on time, Hope you don't notice when your bills go up, and they don't need to pay to keep so many servers going.

  • From the artcle:

    If youâ(TM)re a Verizon subscriber I suggest using an alternative payment method and avoiding it at all costs.

    I would suggest not costing yourself more than $2 to avoid a $2 charge. Well unless you have a way to inconveniance Verizon and don't mind paying to do so of course.

  • The gist of this is to collect the money more *reliably*... If you set up auto-billpay (even if you choose to pay your bill some other way, which works fine in their system) you will not see this fee. They are doing this solely to encourage (nay, force) users to set up some sort of auto pay account so that they can have the assurance of getting their $165 per month for a family cell phone package... Like it or hate it, the fact is most users won't give a crap, either because they already chose the automa

  • by SJHillman (1966756) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:04AM (#38525164)

    My water supplier also charges an extra $2.50 "convenience fee" for paying online. This comes to about 10% of the total bill most months. It's a pain in the ass because the only other form of payment they accept is checks and I don't own a checkbook (I prefer to use credit cards for everything possible... yay cashback).

  • by schwit1 (797399) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:05AM (#38525196)

    If a dispute occurs they have your money and you have little recourse. With a credit card payments you can do a chargeback if they take too much. Using your bank's online bill pay gives you positive control, which means you decide how much to pay as opposed to Verizon deciding how much to take.

    Never EVER give a creditor access to your bank account. This includes Paypal.

  • The state of NJ charges a $2 "convenience fee" to renew your vehicle registration online or the same fee per any transactions they allow online. They mail you a renewal form pre-filled out with a reference number and you can go to their site, type in the number, and it populates everything for you. Alternatively you fill in the missing lines on the form and bring it to the DMV. I'll spend the gas and time to go to the DMV, because I'm not paying an additional $2 tax to the State for something that saves the

  • by v1 (525388) on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:19AM (#38525370) Homepage Journal

    This has nothing to do with how much it costs verizon. Businesses do not charge you based on what their costs are. They charge you based on what you are willing to pay.

    Quit arguing over whether or not the charge is justified. It doesn't HAVE to be justified. Either you're willing to pay it or you're not. Somewhere some verizon bean counters ran all the hard math that factors in their actual costs, in terms of providing the service, loss of business, handling angry phonecalls,bad press, etc, and figured this was a net-win, and so they did it. That's all there is to it. You're totally missing the point if you're trying to figure out why verizon is "justified" in making a change to their charges. If you're willing to pay for it, they're justified in charging for it. Nothing else matters in the business world.

    • by epine (68316)

      Quit arguing over whether or not the charge is justified. It doesn't HAVE to be justified. Either you're willing to pay it or you're not.

      None of the posts about the hazards of autopay concern justification. Many of the posts here concern what people are willing to pay, and how they come to those decisions. There's a sizable contingent of people distressed about gouging, which is a sloppy verbal surrogate for the dislike of pricing based on power rather than economic linearity, likely derived from hard-won

  • by SwansonMarpalum (521840) <redina AT alum DOT rpi DOT edu> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:26AM (#38525456) Homepage Journal
    The fee does not apply to either ACH or AutoPay transactions. This leaves credit card payment as the only mechanism which does incur the fee. Verizon can't come out and say that the fee is because you're using a credit card, because the terms between credit card processors (e.g. MasterCard, VISA) and merchants (in this case, Verizon) specifically forbid altering the price if a credit card is used. When you pay a merchant with a credit card, the merchant only gets 97-99% of the price you pay with the card. 1-3% goes to the credit card company. Verizon can accept payment in any of three ways, but one of them costs Verizon more than the other two ways, and they consequently charge a fee. It's not exactly in-line with their costs, but considering what a monthly phone bill for a smart phone costs, it's not grossly far off, either.
  • by hellfire (86129) <deviladv@@@gmail...com> on Thursday December 29, 2011 @10:26AM (#38525458) Homepage

    Okay let's dissect this before Slashdot goes apeshit. Per the screenshot on the link:

    "A $2 payment convenience fee applies to bill payments made by phone (IVR and rep-assisted) and online (My Verizon and My Verizon Mobile). The fee is waived for bill payments made by electronic check (also referred to as "ACH") and for all bill payments made on accounts that are enrolled in AutoPay with any payment method (credit/Debit/ACH or electronic check)."

    Now before I go further, note that some payment options cost more for Verizon than others. Mostly it's due to credit card interchange fees, and not personnel and infrastructure as most people think. Credit card processors love to slam everyone, small and big companies alike, and verizon is trying to maintain margins. Yes they are also trying to discourage people from using certain services by "incentivizing" them to use ones that cost less. I'm not stating to defend this, merely trying to explain how things work.

    Now then:
    1) payments over the phone are considered "less secure" by credit card companies because there's a human involved. Despite all the huge "this site got haxx0red and lost 100k credit card numbers" stories, most credit card fraud is an inside job where humans get card numbers. They have humans handling multiple things in customer service and I'm sure they have made things efficient enough at this point that someone taking a payment over the phone is not going to hurt their bottom line. What does hurt their bottom line is that "less secure" transaction cost more money to Verizon, thus a $2 fee. It's verizon passing on costs.
    2) Doing payments by ACH is basically wiring the money. This passes the cost from Verizon to the customer, because wiring money might cost money with the bank. It might not, but it depends on each bank. Verizon has no real extra cost here.
    3) The sentence is convoluted but it seems there is a difference between making a one time payment via verizon's site, and being enrolled in autopay, which autocharges every month. This part I am not as familiar with, but it would seem locking your card number costs less than typing it in once. From Visa's standpoint this is counter intuitive because if a user pays once and presents you with a card and you throw away the number after the transaction is done, it's "more secure" than storing the card and paying it at any time. It's more likely to get stolen if it's stored. I can theorize here that they must be using two payment systems and the autopay system is cheaper all around in interchange fees simply due to volume.

    Now I'm not defending this fee by any means, but I am explaining the thought process here. They are trying to incentivize people to use lower cost services due to interchange fees, regardless if it costs them a human being to do so. To me, it's not in a company's best interest to start charging their customers fees like this and they should eat costs as a part of doing business. There are probably better ways to incentivize people.

  • by Shakrai (717556) * on Thursday December 29, 2011 @11:28AM (#38526194) Journal

    New York State General Business Law Section 518: Credit card surcharge prohibited.

    No seller in any sales transaction may impose a surcharge on a holder who elects to use a credit card in lieu of payment by cash, check, or similar means.
    Any seller who violates the provisions of this section shall be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred dollars or a term of imprisonment up to one year, or both.

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