Do Verizon Phones Have Intentional Design "Flaws" That Scam You Into Data Charges?

Illustration for article titled Do Verizon Phones Have Intentional Design Flaws That Scam You Into Data Charges?

Have you ever got hit with a $1.99 data charge on your Verizon bill for accidentally hitting a button that connects you to "Get It Now" or "Mobile Web?" This design "flaw" might be netting Verizon $300 million per year.


A tipster writing to David Pogue claims to work at Verizon, and he explained his own moral frustration with the problem:

"The phone is designed in such a way that you can almost never avoid getting $1.99 charge on the bill. Around the OK button on a typical flip phone are the up, down, left, right arrows. If you open the flip and accidentally press the up arrow key, you see that the phone starts to connect to the web. So you hit END right away. Well, too late. You will be charged $1.99 for that 0.02 kilobytes of data. NOT COOL. I've had phones for years, and I sometimes do that mistake to this day, as I'm sure you have. Legal, yes; ethical, NO.

"Every month, the 87 million customers will accidentally hit that key a few times a month! That's over $300 million per month in data revenue off a simple mistake!

"Our marketing, billing, and technical departments are all aware of this. But they have failed to do anything about it-and why? Because if you get 87 million customers to pay $1.99, why stop this revenue? Customer Service might credit you if you call and complain, but this practice is just not right.

"Now, you can ask to have this feature blocked. But even then, if you one of those buttons by accident, your phone transmits data; you get a message that you cannot use the service because it's blocked–BUT you just used 0.06 kilobytes of data to get that message, so you are now charged $1.99 again!

"They have started training us reps that too many data blocks are being put on accounts now; they're actually making us take classes called Alternatives to Data Blocks. They do not want all the blocks, because 40% of Verizon's revenue now comes from data use. I just know there are millions of people out there that don't even notice this $1.99 on the bill."


Pogue notes that others have written in who are on different networks that have experienced similar problems. So this shady data charge scam might not be exclusive to Verizon—although they do have have a reputation for pricing policies that many would deem "excessive." So, my question is, how many of your monthly bills from Verizon include erroneous data charges? Have you experienced similar problems on another carrier? [Pogue's Posts via Consumerist Image via PhoneArena]

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Ruthless, if you let me

When I was with Verizon none of my bills had this charge. I always re-mapped that stupid button.

Even when it wasn't re-mapped, I was usually quick enough to stop it before any data transfers occured. I was never billed for it, and I would have raised hell if I had been billed.