Verizon won’t make you pay late fees—or cut off yourself altogether—if you can’t pay due to coronavirus-induced financial hardship. The carrier announced today that it will extend its new non-payment and late fee policy through the end of June for individuals and small businesses.
The main caveat is that customers will need to let Verizon know that they are having trouble paying their bills; Verizon won’t automatically assume unpaid bills are do to covid-19 and will likely cut you off if you don’t inform them.
Back in March, Verizon and several other major telecom companies agreed not to cancel customers’ internet and cell phone service for 60 days, or through the end of May. The agreement was part of an FCC initiative to “Keep Americans Connected.” Verizon also added an extra 15GB of 4G LTE hotspot data for customers with unlimited data plans, as well as 15GB of extra data for customers on prepaid and postpaid metered standalone or shared data plans.
But this extension may not benefit some customers, according to a recent analysis of the program. Customers who are subscribed to Lifeline, Verizon’s government assistance program for qualified, low-income individuals, who have home phone service and/or Fios Home Internet service qualify for Verizon’s covid-19 relief package, but customers with a DSL plan don’t. In addition, Verizon said that new Lifeline customers are not eligible to have their first two billing cycles waived, though they will have access to discounted Fios home internet.
Verizon told Gizmodo that it’s extending its low-income internet option for new Fios Internet customers and waiving router charges for two months. However, Verizon did not say if new Lifeline customers would be eligible to have any billing cycles waived this time around.
Fios is only available in certain metro areas, like New York City and Boston, in eight states, compared to its DSL service that is more broadly available in 11 states. But Verizon’s DSL service largely covers rural areas in those states, which are statistically less likely to have access to fast, reliable internet.