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Adriene Hill: Verizon is introducing a new fee in January. Anytime a customer pays their bill over the phone or online with their credit card, they’ll have to come up with an additional $2. The announcement did not go over well; Verizon is already facing a backlash from angry customers.
Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer joins us now live to explain. Good morning Nancy.
nancy Marshall-Genzer: Good morning Adriene.
Hill: So help me understand — why is Verizon charging this extra $2 fee?
Marshall-Genzer: Verizon says this fee only applies to customers who make a one-time payment online or, as you said, over the phone. Verizon says it costs more to process those payments, and it’s just passing those costs on. But of course, consumers don’t actually like the idea of having to pay for the privilege of paying their bills.
Maggie Reardon is a writer for C-Net. And she says, she’s already hearing from readers who are really angry with Verizon.
Maggie Reardon: If you want me to pay my bill and you want me to pay my bill on time, isn’t that the cost of doing business, if you offer the ability to pay online? I shouldn’t have to pay extra to give you my money.
Hill: And you know, this is just one complaint we’ve heard from customers all year long about different types of fees that are being imposed — you know, we’ve seen Bank of American roll back its fess. Can we expect that kind of consumer outrage here to make a difference?
Marshall-Genzer: Possibly — although consumers’ options here are pretty limited. A lot of customers with cell phones — me, for example — are locked into long-term contracts, so they would face a penalty if they left Verizon. But this new fee comes on top of service problems this month that really upset Verizon customers. And by the way, Adriene, Verizon’s competitors — AT&T and Sprint — say they do not charge their customers for any bill paying options.
Hill: Marketplace’s Nancy Marshall-Genzer, thanks so much.
Marshall-Genzer: You’re welcome.
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