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Mystery solved: Consumers win in Verizon Wireless "mystery fees" settlement

by: Michele Ellison

November 4, 2010

Late last week, the Enforcement Bureau resolved a ten-month investigation into allegations that Verizon Wireless incorrectly billed 15 million customers for unauthorized data charges.  The settlement — the largest enforcement action in FCC history — ensures that affected customers will get at least $52.8 million of their money back and requires Verizon Wireless to make a record $25 million payment to the U.S. Treasury.  It also obligates Verizon Wireless to cease billing for unauthorized data charges, give consumers more (and clearer) information about data plans and options, and provide robust training to its customer service employees — so that consumers who have questions can get straight answers and prompt action.

Notably, Verizon Wireless customers themselves played a key role in bringing the "mystery fees" to light.  The settlement is a great example of what can happen when consumers speak up, and we're proud to have played our part in making sure that the voices of many millions of individual consumers were heard.

So, in addition to the money, what else do Verizon Wireless customers get out of the settlement?

  • Improved customer service
  • Data blocks on request, if they want to avoid or limit data charges
  • Right to request a refund for unauthorized data charges, if they do not receive one
  • Close monitoring of data charges by a new Verizon Wireless Data Charge Task Force
  • Strong accountability and compliance monitoring by the FCC

This is just the latest in the Enforcement Bureau's continuing effort on the consumer protection front.  We will monitor the company's compliance going forward, and remain committed to standing with and for consumers.  So, consumers, if you need us, our lights are always on.

For more details, take a look at the press release, the Consumer Tip Sheet, or the settlement itself.

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