To Pay or Not to Pay? Verizon Subscriber Owes $18,000

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Mr_Histamine

Verizon's had balance and account alerts for a few years now (both email and text); so why didn't he set those up if he wanted alerts?  ...Although, now that I think about, they don't alert you to drastic changes in usage; and being a typical telcom, I doubt they'll add that feature anytime soon.

For that matter, why isn't he checking his accounts at least once a week?  I've always thought it was good practice to review your financial, telcom, and utility data on a weekly basis, so - you know - you aren't "surprised" by a transaction.

Frankly, both parties in this are stupid - Verizon is stupid for thinking any human being would actually pay them that much for any form of service, they need to cut their losses and move on.  And the Dad is stupid for not paying attention to his plan.

________________________________________________________________________________

Please deposit your pride, life, and other garbage in the receptacles at the back of the theater before you leave. Thanks!

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wkstar

Just wait 3 more years and the whole thing will drop off his credit roports.

  Verizon will then remove the account off their books and the whole thing will be finished and don.

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violian

That brings the point. I'm sure $18000 for Verizon to move 9GB is PURE profit. So how do they write it off? With credit card companies, if someone doesn't pay their $3000 bill, then it's a $3000 loss for the credit card company because $3000 was actually used when the customer made the purchases. So the credit card company would have to write it off as bad-debt. How would Verizon right it off? It's not bad-debt because it never costed Verizon anything near $18000 to relay Bob those data-usages. Anyone here does accounting for telecoms?

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Tekzel

They make no distinction between them. They are one and the same. That $3000 credit card bill didn't cost them anywhere near that, the person probably only charged $1k or so, and the rest is pure profit from interest. As for the $18k bill, it is the same situation, even though the actual cost to the telecom was far, far smaller. 

Basically, either case is a net loss of profit, and I believe both are written off at the full value.

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You know users... Buncha bitchy little girls.

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chipbowl300

Carriers always do shit like this. I don't understand why they can't just be like, "Wow I see there was a terrible misunderstanding, of course we don't expect you to pay $15,000 or what ever it is and we will just charge you your normal bill."  But of course they are greedy bastards and if they can take thousands of dollars from you, then they will.

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Keith E. Whisman

Here Here.. I agree but I also must point out that companies are in business to make money. In the USA we are more like the Ferengi then the United Federation of Planets. We are a profit driven society. It's how we live. Profit drives innovation that makes life in the USA easy. Without profit driving innovation there would be no computers, no civilian World Wide Web and no chance of enjoying any type of retirement. So companies being greedy isn't really a bad thing. If you saw a $5 Dollar Bill on the ground would you pick it up? Of course you would and why would you pick it up and not leave it for someone else is because you are greedy. It's only natural and thus the reason why communism doesn't work for humans. At least not earthlings. 

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Tekzel

Picking up a $5.00 bill doesn't make you greedy. Thats just crazy talk.

Greed is defined as an obsessive desire to take more than you need or deserve. CEOs in this country are typically greedy. I don't think it requires greed to be successful, nor do I believe all companies are greedy. Some companies thrive by not ripping off their customers, and the customer appreciates it and stays with them. A good example is my cell phone carrier, MetroPCS. I pay them 40 bucks a month and get unlimited voice text and internet usage. To get the same on any "major" carrier would cost me WAY more than I would be insane enough to pay.

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You know users... Buncha bitchy little girls.

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Keith E. Whisman

Walk into any Wireless store like AT&T or Verizon and they'll claim to be the best and all else sucks. I've had accounts with most of the carriers available in the USA now and I can tell you that they are all just about equal. They all have little problems here and there but I've mostly been happy with the service I've received from all of them. 

I once had a nation wide plan with free roaming back when cell phone plans first started becoming affordable. I got a bill for $4000.00 Needless to say I called my carrier and they wanted their money and I told them they weren't going to get it because I didn't have it. See my carrier was quickly bought out by another carrier and I received the bill about 20days after the buyout. And they didn't offer the nation wide plan I had so I was screwed. My credit already wrecked I just told them to screw off. Same thing happened to my dad.

I'm sure times have changed. But there should be a notice sent out immediately when your account goes crazy. My visa account shuts down until I'm contacted when there is suspicion of unusual activity in my bank account. Why can't the Cell Phone carriers do the same thing? 

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jeremyleegates

Yes Bob should pay, and here is why. Having worked for every major carrier in the states I've seen many ridiculous bills. The highest I've personally seen was over $30,000 when I was at Verizon in fact. Here is what happened when I was approached with this issue. Customer service was called, explained the issue and this solution was offered- simply add the appropriate data plan to the line and we will get rid of the overage cost. Typically they would take care of half, but because of the severity of the overage it would just be taken care of %100.

Now here's what Bob probably said, "Well that's stupid, I don't even want to use the internet on my phone! I do have a computer at home for that." Even after probably hearing that he could remove the data feature the following month he refused and said something like "Well I'm not paying anything, I'll just go to -pick your competitor- ,you can just sue me!". Well, guess what, they did. Seriously do you think they realistically expected him to pay that much in the first place? His having to pay this bill is his own ignorant doing. He even has the "I'm a jerk and can write big on the bill how much I'm gonna pay" stuff going on in the picture. RAWR look at me scribble in anger!!! AWESOMNESS

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georgiaray

If they Verizon were really so reluctant to let him go with the regular bill, then he could at least attempt to offer some settlement. I know people who've done it. It's not that difficult since the companies often take anything they can as a alternative to getting nothing at all. I remember having a rather large bill from T-mobile because my new phone was setup to send my pics straight into T-Mobile's online photo album. Guess who had set it up... T-Mobile's associates! I was so pissed because I had taken a lot of photos throughout the first month and was changed about 20 cents each. I ended up paying the entire bill even though I never wanted that pointless service.

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violian

I don't think you know the whole story. I read the Associated Press version, and according to them, he tried talking to Verizon many times to no avail. Bob then got in touch with the local utility authorities - and even the utility authorities couldn't persuade Verizon to forgo the debt. They said Bob's last resort is getting in touch with FCC authorites because they have regulation authorities over wireless telecoms. So I don't think Bob is being a jerk. And that picture above is just MaxPC's usual photoshop.

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lhatten

Listen to you.  It is incredible that you can get into someone's head and know what exactly transpired.  The most he should have to pay is the amount of the "unlimited plan" for 2 months, plus a little to slap him on the wrist.  What Verizon did here will eventually kill the "golden calf" for them.  As someone said earlier, if it was 2 to 300 dollars, he probably would have paid it.  Instead, they shot for the moon and will suffer the same fate that the banks did with their overage fees.  Now banks must shut off a debit card transaction if there is not enough money in the account to cover.  Guess how much they have lost in revenue.  If they had just keep their fees "below the radar" they would still be raking in the cash.  Verizon (and all of the other carriers) will soon reap the same rewards if they keep this up.

To Bob, get in touch with you local TV station that has a consumer "on your side" program.  They love sticking it to these guys.

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neo1piv14

They didn't "shoot for the moon" as you put it. There's not someone sitting at a desk at Verizon saying "ooo. What should we charge Mr X this month? *muahahaha!*"  This is all completely automated. A computer at the phone company monitors my usage, looks at my plan, does some math, and I get an email saying "Hey, you owe us money." They didn't send him that bill to screw him over. This is a perfect picture of cause and effect, nothing more. Use data for which you have no plan, get charged for data for which you have no plan. Rates clearly stated, contract clearly drawn, and user clearly over budget.

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To0nces

The funny thing is, when all the rumors of Verizon getting the iPhone were swirling around, people were saying they would drop AT&T in an instant and switch. Me being a Verizon customer, I just kind of sat back and laughed, because I knew Verizon was just as bad as AT&T.

Unless you have some small time cell phone company like Cricket who gives you TRUE unlimited everything (though their coverage area sucks), you are going to be nickeled and dimed by every single company.

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neo1piv14

So what I'm basically hearing from everyone is that you can dodge your responsibilities by just going over the top? If that bill would have been for $300, he would have been pissed, but undoubtedly would have paid it. However, because he didn't pay attention to when his unlimited plan expired, didn't check his data usage, and didn't check his first bill, he just racked up an insane amount of charges that now everyone is rallying against verizon for? Try doing that with your Visa card and let me know how that goes.This guy also should have been keeping track of what his son was doing with his cellphone. If my kid sets someone's car on fire, I don't think I should be able to get off with the excuse "But that's a really expensive car. It would be criminal for you to make me pay for that."

    We live in an age of technology. These days, someone saying that they don't know what 5GB is would be like me saying I don't know how much 400 pages in a book is. If you don't know, ask someone, read a book, or look it up.  I guess if my responsibility just goes off the deep end, I know I can always count on public opinion to help me out when I charge up hundreds of thousands of dollars on my credit card due to monthly porn subscriptions and 900 numbers because "I didn't realize how short a minute was."   

      Verizon did the guy a favor by cutting the bill in half, and it's not like they're going to come murder him like he borrowed money from the mob. Chances are, if he stays with them, he'll just pay an extra 100 bucks a month for the next several years or something. No big deal.  Oh, and if he wanted decent customer service in the first place, he should've just gone to tmo.

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violian

Give Bob a break - he looks like he's atleast 65. 60% of Americans are really dumbfounded when it comes to technology. We have high level executives in our office who are in their 50's, and on occasion, they still accidentally call keyboards typewriters. As for his son, according to Associated Press, most of the data usage occured from his son downloading music and movies - so his son must've been racking up those data-usage pretty fast in a short amount of time. He might've used his dad's phone for tethering when his dad was asleep or something.

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To0nces

Don't be stupid. Verizon has a $100 unlimited plan. So tell me, why exactly should he be charged $18000  when they could have just back dated him onto the unlimited plan? This is a case of Verizon trying to screw somebody and not caring. I'm sorry you feel the need to back up a corporation with terrible customer service policies.

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neo1piv14

Yes, but he didn't sign up for the unimited data plan. If he went over his minutes because he fell asleep with the phone on, should verizon call him up and say "Sir, I think you meant to get the 1500 minute plan, so we're switching you." Verizon could have made a good PR stunt out of this by doing exactly what you said. Doesn't mean it was their responsibility. $18000 is something they're never going to see, but they also agreed to half his bill, which is better than he could have expected elsewhere.  Remember that contract he said he read and placed his signature on? If he didn't, that just means he's a liar. Yeah, it takes extra time to read it, but that's where you find out about the little stuff that's going to screw you. If every company ever told you all of the little things that might possibly come back and bite you in the ass, noone would ever sell anything.

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Nastyman

The telco companys should just shut your account down when you reach the download limit and give you a telephone number to call to reinstale the service. That way you have no reason to say you didn't know you were about to over run the allotted download amount.

 Nasty

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neo1piv14

He didn't have a download limit. He was paying for every kb used. Definitely would be a good idea though until you really needed your phone to work and found out you had to call in to get it turned back on.

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johnny3144

i was charged 40 dollar for opening maximumPC on my cellphone that is connected to my wi-fi. the sale associate told me i can connect to my wi-fi and made it sound like i can browse through it. however, i was charged 40 dollar cause the browser went through to edge-network and charge me by kilobytes. since the companies offer few GB of data for 20 bucks, makes you wonder just how much profit they make on the people not in these plans.  and do they really expect people use these data service without a plan?

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Joe The Plummer

If this happened today, I would say he should have to pay up, because as Verizon points out, you can get information on how much you've downloaded, how many minutes and txt's you've used from their website and even on some phones. So there is no excuse really to rack up a bill like that now.

4 years ago however is a completely different animal. I joined them 4 years ago and don't recall them offering a way to see how much data you've used, but I could be wrong. Either way as others have stated, $18k is extortion. He would have to pay somethign if this went to court, but I can't imagine he'd have to pay anywhere near thousands of dollars. 

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Shadai

I believe that it is time for Cell phone companies (not just Verizon but ALL cell phone companies) to be hit with a little Truth in Advertising.

Every company promises "unlimited" access to the web and we all knew it was only a matter of time before someone tested this.

I see both sides of this arguement, first of all the man should not be charged for that absolutely silly amount, and second verizon is right about the man's responsiblity to check his bill.

However what is being glossed over is I guarentee those idiot reps at Verizon told the guy he had "unlimited" access to the internet without telling him it was actually "capped" at 5gb.  I've personally bought 2 smartphones at Verizon and I have yet to this day have a Verizon rep actually explain to me that "unlimited" means 5gb.  I know because I'm tech savvy; but let's face it, 60% of the American public is not.  And in that 60% Unlimited does not equal 5gb.  

Personally I believe that all the cell companies should be hit with some Truth in Advertising regulation and fines.  And stop insulting my intelligence by advertising unlimited coverage.  Companies such as Verizon have been playing with a dangerous fire and its about time they all got burned.

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neo1piv14

He had unlimited as part of a promotion. The unlimited expired and that's when he racked up all these charges. It's like when the cable company gives you free HBO for 6 months and then starts charging you for it because you didn't cancel. Sure, it's scummy, but people would complain if there wasn't a try it before you buy it option available.

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Shadai

This is precisely my point.  Its time to make them accountable for what they say and do.  Everyone else has to, why do cell phone companies get the free pass?  Its unethical and as you say, scummy.

True story on my last phone I bought Verizon offered me the free 3 months tethering service.  I told them N O I don't want it as I knew I wasn't going to use it.  They put it on my phone anyway!  Imagine my surprise 4 months later when my bill hiked up 30 bucks a month, and I had never used the service once.

So back to my original point.  Sure in his case the offer expired, but they should have done like they did to me and just charge him 30 bucks a month for the unlimited that he didn't cancel.  Not drop him back down to non-unlimited.

And I still want that unlimited monkier banned from Wireless providers vocab unless its actually, you know, UNLIMITED.

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ResidentArse

I'm surprised that Verizon did not let Bob know about the concurring fees. There is a thing called business educate that Verizon should consider in this matter since it was only over a 2 month period and technically you only get a bill one month at a time. So I can see how you can lose track. However, there is a thing called responsibility. Ultimately, you should know what your bill payment should be. It sucks that the family thought that they had unlimited data and it happened to run out at the wrong time. Best solution, Re-bill Bob using the unlimited data plan amount. Consumers still need to be more responsible. Check your bank statements, check your accounts often. Know what the situation is. Be on top of your life. Do not rely on someone else to pad your own ignorance. 

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highsidednb

There has been and will continue to be a huge disconnect between the actual cost of a service and what is charged to customers in the wireless/broadband industries.  The $18,000 charges are so ridiculously disconnected from what Verizon spends to push that amount of data that it's criminal.  Sure, the guy should have been relentlessly vigilant with his account because let's face it, the wireless companies are a bunch of crooks.  Still, they should cut his bill to a fraction for good PR.

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GenericBob

A truly customer-oriented company would never allow a problem like this to develop. When the cost of the Internet service reaches the amount for the unlimited data plan, the telco should automatically enroll the user in the unlimited data plan for the month, thus setting a cap of $100--or whatever Verizon's fee is for an unlimited plan--on such service. An explanatory message should then come with the bill. Win-win.

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RedBrain

Generic Bob is absolutely, 100% correct. This is the simplest and best solution and I know that if I "screwed up" that I would be more than happy that my provider looked to my best interest.

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Biceps

I have to agree with you, Generic Bob.  It is clear that Verizon is not taking the customer-oriented solution here - what they hope to gain (aside from looking like complete thieves and jerks) is beyond me.  If Verizon's own internal systems for ensuring customers are 'educated' were working, this wouldn't have happened.  I will continue to follow this case, and will add Verizon to my list of 'no-go' companies unless I see a reasonable and customer-oriented solution to this situation.

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To0nces

My dealings with Verizon proves they are anything but customer oriented. I've gone back and forth repeatedly with them for some billing issues I had. Having to explain each and every time from the very beginning when I called to find out what was going on. Then sure enough, I'd get yet another bill in the mail, after the customer service rep assured me everything was taken care of. That happened like 4 times in a row.

The sad thing? I'd switch carriers, but I've dealt with multiple cell phone companies and they are all just as bad.

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Pyrophorics

Regardless of having a data plan or not, the fee should never be more than 2x the cost of an unilimted plan. You get to pay double because you were an idiot but anything higher than that is extortion.

So charge whatever you want, $1 per MB but not to exceed 2x the unlimited plan cost.

If they wanted to be decent, the could setup a trigger to flag the account when 2x is met and review the account/call the customer.

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IFLATLINEI

I dont care how much was downloaded no amount of data for one person could or should be $18,000. Its rediculous and pathetic that Verizon would even issue a bill for that much. The byte is obviously over valued. I wouldnt pay that. 

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Dunimas

I think the stinkin kid should pay. He's the idiot who racked up the bill. I agree the charge is outlandish and there definately should be a call if abornmal activity happens. If someone stole your credit card and bought a car I'm sure you'd be hearing about it rather quickly. It should be the same for these rediculous "accidental gigantic phone bill" scenarios. After seeing quite a few of these in the last few years you would think the providers would get their act together. After all, who wants to be lambasted in the media for absurd charges?

Regardless, young adults my age need to learn responsibility and it sounds to me like the Dad should lay the smack-down on his cheap ass son and make him pay instead.

::.Dunimas.::

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Caboose

 Lets hope you never reproduce...

 

-= I don't want to be dead, I want to be alive! Or... a cowboy! =-

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Biceps

+1

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DigitalNogi

Right, because it's such a feasible amount for any of us to pay on a surprise bill. We're just arguing with the company because we're cheap. 

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Pball1224

$18k?!?! Verizon, are you kidding? Cell phone data charges if you don't have a data plan are insane!

Honestly, what costs did Verizon actually incur to supply the amount of data that the customer's son downloaded? Why not just back date the plan to one of the data plans and charge on that appropriately. I bet he didn't even go over the 5GB limit placed on the "Unlimited" data plan. Their response talks about all the tools available to the customer to prevent this sort of thing from happening, but this customer was clearly in their first few months of service, and was most likely not aware of any of these tools. They aren't always obvious, that is if the customer even uses the website!

This is a case of Verizon ruining someones credit, and making their life difficult over an easily made mistake just to make an example of someone. Just another example of a company not doing the right thing.

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Asevening

Verizon only charges $.20 per MB (megabyte, not megabit) over a limit, so for him to get hit with $18,000 he would have used 90,000MB (Almost 90GB).  I don't know what they would have charged per kilobyte four years ago, but it is still a high number to reach.  Although, if you have a phone plan the 5GB cap isn't incurred, it's only if you have a laptop, but even then they have strict rules about tethering with specific phone which probably wouldn't help him since only a few phones are provided the option to tether.  But it would also make a difference if they were on a promo unlimited plan that expired and dropped to 25MB (like their "Multimedia phone" plan) or if they flat out dropped all 3G service plan options (which is highly unlikely because the plan is required NOW, and I don't know about 4 years ago, but some phones don't allow you to turn off 3G).

 

In any case he would definately have gone over 5GB.

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violian

I read the original Associated Press article sometime last week. And they mentioned Bob's son using the phone as a tether-modem for his laptop because his dad only had dial-up. The son used about 9-10GB of data - most of which was downloading music and movies.

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Caboose

 It wasn't within the first few months of the plan, the promo had ended already and he was being charged the stupid insane amount now...

 

-= I don't want to be dead, I want to be alive! Or... a cowboy! =-

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DigitalNogi

I agree entirely. Isn't there a power out there that can bring Verizon in line? 

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zepontiff

Its borderline criminal to charge $18000 for something they offer unlimited for $100 a month. At the least its extremely unethical. Though this customer is a moron for allowing this to happen. In the end I don't care enough to lose sleep over a fight between a moron and a terrible telco.

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violian

Totally criminal. There should be some legislation in place to protect consumers from future similar incidents. I agree, Verizon should've limited or stopped the service if it exceeded a certain amount of dollars if they're truely customer-oriented. Like Wells Fargo for instance, you cannot rack up more than 4 overdrafts consecutively - it's to protect their customers. Or credit-card companies - Chase Card called me on my cell phone the next day after there was a suspicious transaction on my card. Verizon should be boycotted.

MaxPC should send these comments to Verizon. If they still refuse, Bob should set up a donation on the web, and I'll gladly contribute $2. Some companies like Verizon will do whatever it takes to exploit old people who don't know the difference between KB, MB, GB, or unlimited. 

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JimmerSD

It is a never ending game of gotcha with these guys. Worse than the
credit card companies they abdicate all responsibility when it comes to
customer notification and leave them hanging. Then they stand there like
a petulant child pointing the finger back proclaiming "But he..." .

When a customers activity and costs diverge from the norm it should
be required that the company contact that customer to clarify. Credit
Card companies do this, so should Cell Phone companies.Oh and BTW the
cost of net access via cell phone is fractions of pennies on the
dollars. Offering to take half is an insult.

Should they pay the bill? Hell no! Doing so would open them up to covering Verizons legal cost too.

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aviaggio

I agree 100%. But don't forget, the only reason credit cards will do this (contact you if unusual or excessive charge(s) were made) is because they are legally on the hook for all but $50 if the card was stolen. So it's in their best interests to check up on it cause otherwise they have to pay your bill.

Verizon isn't in the same situation. They have absolutely no incentive (other than negative PR) to check with the customer if their bill is suddenly an order of magnitude more than normal. Of course they *should*, but unless the law forces them to do it I don't see why they would voluntarily. After all, it's great for them if you do accidentally rack up such a bill cause they're going to use the credit system to blackmail you for the next 7 years to pay it. 

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DystopianFreak

Yes, its very true that this is RIDICULOUS for internet coverage, it is also true that Bob should have checked his account.  I do, however, think that Verizon should use a little more fair practice in that they should have informed Bob once his bill started to skyrocket to such ludicrous amounts.  With their cost per kilobyte of internet coverage, Verizon is simply milking the fact that data transmission is getting faster, and fooling less tech savvy customers into thinking they're getting a good deal, when actually they're being charged about 10 dollars simply for opening the first page of Facebook.

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iron1mike

I used to work at a few different corporate owned cellular companies and have ran into similar issues such as this.  Typically a legitimate solution for the customer is for him to subscribe to the unlimited internet for that device and fight to get the difference refunded.  The fact that they allow overage to go beyond what is charged for unlimited service is definately not a customer oriented policy.  What I would do in this situation is to go into your local corporate retail location and get them to contact customer care and fight it on your behalf.  You will have a good chance of getting this resolved but expect to be in the store for hours while the sales rep gets transferred multiple times.

 If all else fails there is always the press. 

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Rocketpop

Unfortunately for Bob, Verizon isn't at fault here. It's his responsibility to check his account usage. The information he needed to know all this wasn't hidden. Ignorance isn't an excuse when the information is available. Whether or not Verizon should alert customers to this kind of thing, Bob's going to have to be an example for what not to do. Not that this hasn't happened before, but it just happens.

This reminds me of when I was charged $300 for internet usage after signing up for an unlimited data plan with AT&T. When I first signed up, the rep asked me if I wanted an unlimited data plan, and I said yes. He never signed me up, and I ended up with a $300 bill. AT&T did the same thing Verizon's doing, they cut the bill in half, which was probably to keep me quiet about it and not push the matter further. This is probably more unfair than Bob's situation because the rep failed to pull through on something he was supposed to do while he was standing there at the computer with me.

In any case, it's not Verizon's fault. It's rightfully Bob's problem. 

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To0nces

I agree with Biceps. They cut a bill in half for something you shouldn't have been billed in the first place. I never would have paid that. I would have fought that tooth and nail. All too often companies expect you to pay for their mistakes.

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