FCC dishes tips to overcharged Verizon users

Verizon must establish a 'Data Charge Task Force'

The Federal Communications Commission does not want you to pay $1.99 for that GB of data you never used.

Building on the record settlement the FCC reached with Verizon over inaccurate data charges last week, the commission today issued a series of tips for getting refunds to consumers who have been overcharged for data services they didn't subscribe to. First, the commission notes that consumers across the United States are due to receive credits or refunds from Verizon worth a total of $52.8 million within the next month to make up for inaccurate data charges.

FCC chair dings carriers over "bill shock"

Second, the commission says Verizon is creating a "Data Charge Task Force" within its customer service division that will be dedicated mainly to resolving data charge disputes from Verizon customers.  The FCC recommends that you go through the regular Verizon customer service portal if you think you've been overcharged and then follow up with the Data Charge Task Force if you're unhappy with the response you get.  If you're still not satisfied, the commission then recommends filing a complaint directly with the FCC through its Consumer Help Center.

The FCC's settlement with Verizon, in which the carrier agreed to pay the commission $25 million as well as more than $50 million in refunds to customers, came just as the commission announced it was going to hold public hearings on unexpectedly high charges on wireless bills.  A survey commissioned by the FCC earlier this year found that nearly one in five American consumers has been subject to sudden and unexpected rises in their monthly cellular phone bills. The FCC survey, which was conducted by research firms Abt/SRBI and Princeton Survey Research Associates, found that 17% of U.S. cell phone users said that their bills had "increased suddenly from one month to the next [even if they] did not change the calling or texting plan" they subscribed to.

The survey interviewed a total of 2,463 mobile phone users living in the United States. A plurality of those who saw their bills unexpectedly increase reported that the amount of the increase was relatively small, between $1 and $24 per month. However, 23% of those who saw their bills unexpectedly increase experienced increases totaling more than $100 in a month.

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