In what was sure to take some of the "Merry" out of "Merry Christmas", DSLReports.com is reporting that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has responded to Verizon's explination of their early termination fees (ETF) for smartphones and charges of $1.99 for "phantom" web browser access without a data plan.
Karl Bode wrote the following for DSLReports.com:
"The problem is, the strange fee [$1.99 for simply launching the browser on a smartphone] has been documented for months by several customers, a number of newspapers, and even a Verizon whistle blower, who claimed Verizon knew about the junk fee but has done little to stop it because it generates millions in additional annual revenue. So Verizon's letter to the FCC denying all of this is raising a lot of eyebrows, as is Verizon's claim that a new $350 ETF for smartphones was to aid the poor (no, we're not kidding). In a response (PDF) posted this afternoon to the FCC website, [FCC Commissioner Mignon] Clyburn says Verizon's answers were "unsatisfying" and "in some cases, troubling".
The FCC document reads, in part:
"I am also alarmed by the fact that many consumers have been charged phantom fees for inadvertently pressing a key on their phones thereby launching Verizon Wireless's mobile Internet service. The company asserted in its response to the Bureau that it "does not charge users when the browser is launched" but recent press reports and consumer complaints strongly suggest otherwise. These issues cannot be ignored."
I'm glad to see that the FCC appears to be looking out for consumers. It is no secret that when you are dealing with the likes of the phone company or cable operators, or insurance companies for that matter, the consumer is on short end of the stick. Hopefully, the FCC will help balance the scales for consumers when dealing with not just Verizon Wireless, but also the other U.S. wireless carriers too.
You can read the full article on DSLReports.com.
"Can you hear me now?"