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Verizon Adds $2 Charge For Paying Your Bill Online

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the this-makes-me-unhappy dept.

Businesses 562

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from geek.com (based on a report at Droid Life) that makes me consider quitting or at least suspending the very expensive service 3G data service I get from Verizon: "With 2012 about to start, it seems Verizon has decided paying your bill online or over the phone is now worthy of an extra charge. So, from January 15, anyone choosing to pay their monthly bill using either method will incur a $2 charge. Verizon is classing the charge as a 'convenience fee' which translates into them deciding allowing you to pay either online or over the phone is a convenience. They also explain in the FAQ above that the fee allows them, 'to continue to support these bill payment options.' Really, Verizon? When did offering online payments or accepting phone calls from customers get so much more expensive?"

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Ah, America! (5, Insightful)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524984)

This is completely reverse to what companies in my country have started doing. For a long time companies have started pushing people to use internet billing, and if you still want paper bill then that costs extra (because it really does, with printing and mailing). Sending invoice or auto-billing via internet saves them a lot, so I'm not sure I understand why Verizon would want to do thi.. oh right, more $$$.

Re:Ah, America! (3, Insightful)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525008)

It's probably a wash, actually. Credit card charges will probably cost them as much as mailing that paper, which would be paid by check instead of credit card, usually.

I think it's wrong and anti-customer, but there are actually reasons and it's not just a money-grab.

Re:Ah, America! (1, Informative)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525054)

Why are you even using credit cards to pay bills? In Europe bank transfers are used for such and are entirely free for consumers. Companies have to pay some if they have huge amount of transfers. And that is within the whole SEPA-zone (most of western european countries) too, so it's not an issue between different jurisdictions and size.

Re:Ah, America! (5, Informative)

cyberfunk2 (656339) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525108)

There's two obvious reasons for this: Points on my credit card (i.e. free money/miles/ etc), and convienience. It allows me to watch only my credit card bill and pay it once. Also, there's a little bit of money to made on the float (not much these days w/ the low interest rates).

Re:Ah, America! (0, Troll)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525150)

You get convenience with banking too. I only watch over my bank account. I use visa/mastercard debit card too, so it is instantly removed from my account. Living on credit is stupid.

Re:Ah, America! (5, Insightful)

razorh (853659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525232)

Nobody said anything about living on credit. I do the same thing InterestingFella does. I use my credit card for everything bills/gas/food/etc. and then when it's time to pay my credit card off at the end of the month I do a direct one time transfer from my bank account. I'm not living on credit even the least little bit. I don't spend what I don't have and in fact keep a decent 'cushion' in the bank at all times. I haven't lived paycheck to paycheck in a LONG time. If you pay your credit card off every month there is no interest to pay, no fees, AND you get points/miles/extra cash/cheaper gas. I would say NOT doing this is stupid.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

razorh (853659) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525268)

bah... I meant Cyberfunk2 does... misread the post headers.

Re:Ah, America! (5, Informative)

trum4n (982031) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525280)

BUT, having a credit card, and using it, and paying it off is actually all but required in this country. Having no credit history is just as damning as bankruptcy in America. Right now, I'm applying for a mortgage. I was told by the bank that my $20k+ in student loans and my $18k car loan...help me. It's twisted, but true. Also, living on credit and using a credit card for ease are not the same. Also, many banks DO charge for external transfers of money here.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525304)

Not if you pay off the credit card in full every month. I pay for most things on credit cards for two reasons.
-I get at least 1% cash back (usually more) for all purchases. It adds up over a year.
-I like having a buffer between myself and the vendor. The money stays in my bank until I pay off my card, so if I have a dispute with a vendor, I'm not fighting to get my money back.

I don't even have a debit card, just an ATM card. I never liked the idea that if I lost the card and dont notice it for a few days, someone who finds it could drain my account...

Re:Ah, America! (3, Informative)

dogmatixpsych (786818) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525316)

I use a credit card for everything I can because of the rewards I earn. I've received thousands of dollars in rewards (I just received what amounts to $800 in rewards for signing up with a credit card) and cash back (anywhere from 1% - 20% per transaction, depending on the situation and retailer) over the years. The trick is to use credit cards like debit cards by paying them off completely every month. Living on credit can be stupid (most people need a mortgage to afford a house though; having a mortgage is "living on credit") but we shouldn't confuse using credit cards with living on credit. I'll use debit cards as soon as they offer rewards as good as credit cards (they won't though because of regulations as well as other reasons).

Re:Ah, America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525318)

Who needs to live on credit? I pay off my credit card bill online twice a month. Sometimes more often.

I do all my mail on Saturday morning, and rectifying my credit cards online is part of the ritual. In 14 years I paid interest on the credit card a total of twice (I was out of the country traveling (and paying cash) for a few weeks in a row each time). With my 1% cash back, I get several hundred dollars back a year, every year over the same time period.

Credit cards are awesome. If you use them and don't let them use you.

Re:Ah, America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525324)

I never carry a balance on my cards. I make a few hundred dollars in cash-back rewards every year. I make a few dollars on the float differential. I pay no fees or interest to the credit card companies. I get the additional protections, warranties, and assurances the card I use offers. If there is any fraud on my account, it doesn't tie up real money of mine until I can get the dispute resolved. I get the satisfaction of being a not-for-profit customer to the credit card company.

Nothing in that seems overly stupid to me.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

Theaetetus (590071) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525332)

You get convenience with banking too. I only watch over my bank account. I use visa/mastercard debit card too, so it is instantly removed from my account. Living on credit is stupid.

As with the grandparent poster, I pay everything on my credit card, but no, we don't live on credit. I pay it off every month, and have plenty to spare in my checking account. As a result, everything is about 3% cheaper - you're subsidizing my purchases, so thanks - and my credit rating is impeccable.

Additionally, most of the banking laws in this country are set up to protect credit card transactions, not debit card transactions. For example, if I dispute a charge, it's frozen and I hold on to the money. If you dispute a charge on your debit card, the money has already been transferred to the merchant, so you have to fight to get it back. If I lose my card and I report it within 24 hours, I'm not responsible for any charge. If you lose your card, your bank may have some policies, but there may be a limit (you're responsible for the first $500, etc.).

Living on a debit card or via cash transactions is stupid.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

ArhcAngel (247594) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525368)

Who says I live on credit? I currently get 3% back when I use my card on gas or restaurant purchases and 1% on most other things. I use my card everywhere and pay off the balance every month. Those items I don't pay with my card I use my banks bill pay feature so it would still avoid this convenience fee.

Re:Ah, America! (4, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525374)

Every time someone mentions using a credit card on the internet, somebody will reply that using credit cards is stupid, because they simply could not imagine that a credit card user could have his account set to automatically pay-off in full from a flush bank account.

Then you have posts like these, where a flood of users reply to point out the obvious.

Sounds like classic trolling to me.

Re:Ah, America! (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525142)

Because the American financial system is deliberately inefficient in order to extract as much wealth from us as possible.

Re:Ah, America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525170)

(1) "Free for consumers but charged to businesses" simply means the bill to the consumer is higher to incorporate the business banking fees;

(2) Credit cards give up to 56 days interest free credit, or more with special offers;

(3) Credit cards give scheme or statutory protection in the event of business misbehaviour. The CCA 1974, one of the most beautiful pieces of pro-small-guy-but-still-very-capitalist legislation in the UK, gives joint liability to the business and the credit card provider for performance for goods and services costing between £100 and £30k;

(4) It's way too easy to be given, to hear or to type in the wrong bank account number and for businesses to say they never got the credit. You get one number wrong and you've just credited some random guy a lot of money which you may never see again.

Re:Ah, America! (2)

InterestingFella (2537066) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525284)

(4) It's way too easy to be given, to hear or to type in the wrong bank account number and for businesses to say they never got the credit. You get one number wrong and you've just credited some random guy a lot of money which you may never see again.

No, bank numbers have check digits. If you typo some number the payment will not go through.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

Karl Cocknozzle (514413) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525326)

(4) It's way too easy to be given, to hear or to type in the wrong bank account number and for businesses to say they never got the credit. You get one number wrong and you've just credited some random guy a lot of money which you may never see again.

I'm not sure how bank transfers work in the United Kingdom, but Americans can do bank-transfers (called an "ACH" or "Automated Clearinghouse" transaction) to pay expenses too. And we have a pretty straight-forward fail-safe in place to make sure the scenario you describe happens between "rarely" and "never."

When you link you your bank account to the merchant, the first thing they do is deposit xyz random cents (usually between $0.01 and $0.25) a few times and have you confirm those amounts by entering them into their web-application. Once you enter the matching value, you've confirmed ownership. And you only get one or two attempts to get it right before you have to "call customer service" to resolve it, which means you can't brute force it very easily. Once this is completed, you can pay your bills using an ACH transfer.

Surely UK merchants have access to something as simple that is similar...

Re:Ah, America! (1)

evenmoreconfused (451154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525218)

Because many of us North Americans have "Moneyback" or "AirMiles" deals on our credit cards. After I've spent the first $1,000 each year on Visa, I get 1% back from them on everything thereafter. On the other hand, my Mastercard gives me 1 Airmile (real air miles, i.e. one hundred airmiles means you get a one hundred mile round trip ticket) for every $15 spent on the card. I've taken the whole family to Cuba twice on this deal in the last few years.

Plus, if I buy something on the 25th of December, I get the bill January 22nd and it's not due until February 14th.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

isonline (684583) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525274)

Three words.... Cashback Bonus Award!

Fact check about United States banking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525328)

Most bank accounts here in the states offer free billpay, which is as you describe. You don't go to the company's website to pay, you go to your bank's site and enter all the information.

No need for complicated routing information either, if you enter "NSTAR" it magically knows that you mean the sometimes electric, sometimes gas[1] utility and gets the right electronic routing information. If it doesn't get it right away, it somehow figures it out in a few days. For those very few companies that aren't online, the bank mails a check for free.

There is even a facility where you can view your bill through the billpay interface. Right now, only one of the companies I regularly pay with billpay offers that, so I still work off paper bills. As more and more move to that feature, I will adapt my workflow to better capitalize on that.

[editorial mode]

I know you like to jump on the United States without looking, is this one of those times? Honestly, it is great that Europe has all those toys, but guess what, the United States does as well. I hate to burst your bubble, but we aren't sitting here writing out checks in perfect penmanship by candlelight. Would it be so much to ask you to at least stick to stories about the United States that are remotely true?

[editorial mode off]

[1] NSTAR furnishes electricity in my area, but in other parts of Massachusetts it furnishes just natural gas. In those areas where NSTAR furnishes one, National Grid does the other. Go figure.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525230)

So ask for a paper bill and use your credit card to pay for it.
Online payments even with the credit card is cheaper for version unless they have idiots for their IT. There is a lot of expense in people pushing paper around.

Verizon does ACH bill pay (4, Informative)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525238)

I have mine tied directly to my checking account and payments are done as ACH at no cost to me. Verizon also pushed me toward One Bill and then paperless billing to save the environment, and now they want to charge me $2.00 a month to do their job: I'm sorry, when I enter all the data and submit my bill every month *I AM DOING THE WORK FOR YOU!* It should not cost them a dime for me to submit my bill, directly to their systems, online.

Re:Ah, America! (3, Informative)

jovius (974690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525362)

Credit cards or checks are not involved at all at least in Finland. I don't know if using them is even possible. The company sends a bill by email or then the monthly amount is directly charged from the given bank account. The customer, bank and a company can have a direct charging agreement. I'm also able to postpone the due date without an extra charge at least with my provider. Practically all of the bills are paid online and there isn't a culture of credit in the same sense as in the US. Anything paper related comes with an extra charge. The bank I use doesn't even provide cash services in their offices.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

Alicat1194 (970019) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525364)

It's probably a wash, actually. Credit card charges will probably cost them as much as mailing that paper, which would be paid by check instead of credit card, usually.

Not necessarily - I work for a fairly large org (9000+ employees), and our bank charges us enough to deposit cheques that for payments under ~$100 it's actually cheaper to accept the credit card charge.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

truthsearch (249536) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525372)

Credit card charges will probably cost them as much as mailing that paper

I doubt it. With their volume and fraud prevention they get an extremely low rate. Paper adds employees, postal fees, office space, printers, etc. Just the fact they can have less employees without paper makes their public financial statements looks better (higher revenue per employee, lower capital expenditures, etc.).

Re:Ah, America! (3, Informative)

Leebert (1694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525096)

This is completely reverse to what companies in my country have started doing.

Oh, that's very much the case here in the US as well. To the point of being obnoxious.

I still opt for paper bills and mail in checks for the folks who don't take credit cards.

Perhaps it's because someone at Verizon Wireless was bothered at how much they were paying for credit/debit card transaction fees, and figured this was the way to recoup that cost.

Re:Ah, America! (4, Informative)

PhotoJim (813785) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525124)

Mail them a cheque (err, check, my American friends) and make a point. If millions of customers did this, their payment processing costs would go through the roof.

Re:Ah, America! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525180)

Hi, American here. Millions of Americans already send them and many other companies millions of checks each month. This is nothing new, shocking, or something that would make their current costs raise any noticeable level.

Re:Ah, America! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525226)

hey ass wipe, will the real america please stand up, oh yea, that's me.

the only person still sending checks, or writing checks for that matter, is my 92 year old grand mother.

go fuck yourself.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525214)

How about we all just pay with pennies. Because this fee is BS.

Re:Ah, America! (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525296)

Yeah, but they won't. And Verizon knows it...

Re:Ah, America! (2)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525202)

Doubt it had anything to do with them trying to "recoup" anything. They just noticed how many people pay online and figured "hey, if half our customers pay online... we can get an extra 70.8 million a month by charging them 2 extra bucks for the privilege of paying us! That extra $212.4 million per quarter will look very nice in our quarterly reports!"

Re:Ah, America! (4, Informative)

NardoPolo88 (1417637) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525382)

I think you missed the point. They are recouping the fees charged by Visa and Master Card. Those fees have recently increased by the way. This is way you can still pay on line for *FREE* if you pay though your checking account. This is also why most of the smaller restaurants in my area and I'm sure other areas of the US have $10 and $20 minimums for credit cards. It is also why my uncle, who was also a small business owner, did like it when people paid with credit cards. You really should look into where this money goes before judging verizon to harshly for trying to get some of that money back. I for one will continue to pay online as I always have. Through my checking account that they already have stored on their server.

Re:Ah, America! (4, Interesting)

jpstanle (1604059) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525184)

It's the complete reverse in the rest of America, too. Everyone else is pushing for online payment and electronic billing because it saves on paper and postage costs.

Verizon is the first company I've seen try to pull an asshat move like this. I think why Verizon is trying it now involves a couple things. For one, large telecoms like Verizon and AT&T have for years felt entitled to licenses to print money hand over fist, and whenever revenue drops due to market changes or technological development, their biggest priority is to find somewhere else to recoup that lost revenue. My guess here is that Verizon noticed that a majority of their customers were already paying their bills online, so they decided to start charging a fee to do it, knowing that their customer base already appreciates the convenience of online bill payment and inertia would prevent them from paying by mail. Other service providers, public utilities for example, likely have much older, entrenched, and less 'tech-savvy' customers so they need to provide incentives to move towards online billing and its associated cost savings.

Re:Ah, America! (5, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525272)

It's the complete reverse in the rest of America, too. Everyone else is pushing for online payment and electronic billing because it saves on paper and postage costs.

Verizon is the first company I've seen try to pull an asshat move like this. I think why Verizon is trying it now involves a couple things. For one, large telecoms like Verizon and AT&T have for years felt entitled to licenses to print money hand over fist, and whenever revenue drops due to market changes or technological development, their biggest priority is to find somewhere else to recoup that lost revenue. My guess here is that Verizon noticed that a majority of their customers were already paying their bills online, so they decided to start charging a fee to do it, knowing that their customer base already appreciates the convenience of online bill payment and inertia would prevent them from paying by mail. Other service providers, public utilities for example, likely have much older, entrenched, and less 'tech-savvy' customers so they need to provide incentives to move towards online billing and its associated cost savings.

A majority of their customers certainly pay their bills online, but they do it automatically and are hence exempt from this fee. Verizon is doing something very simple, encouraging their customers to prefer the automatic process over the manual one. There is undoubtedly a price break to handling the exact same payment method month after month vs handling a unique one each time, and they know they will save more money than they will lose in pissed off customers.

Re:Ah, America! (5, Insightful)

CaptBubba (696284) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525192)

They really want you to set up an automatic funds transfer for the account instead of approving each payment individually. This is great for them and horrible for you because the funds are whisked out of your checking account regardless of if the billing is correct or not. It has the added benefit that most people will forget about it and then miss any rate increases.

Re:Ah, America! (3, Funny)

Xelios (822510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525216)

My ISP charges 3â to mail a monthly statement in the interest of cutting down on waste paper and mailing costs, so I switched to online billing a long time ago. I don't really miss it because they were kind enough to keep sending an extra envelope with advertisements and "tell your friends" incentives every month, completely free!

Re:Ah, America! (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525228)

Sending invoice or auto-billing via internet saves them a lot, so I'm not sure I understand why Verizon would want to do thi.. oh right, more $$$.

Read TFA... It's about AUTO billing, as in giving VZ your payment info up front so they can sit back and let the money roll in. If you do that, there is no fee. The uncertainty of not knowing if the customer will pay their bill on time is worth the $2, at least to them.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

J'raxis (248192) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525236)

Actually, an awful lot of companies do that here, too. I wouldn't be surprised if Verizon is charging a fee for mailing a paper bill, too.

Re:Ah, America! (1)

Tharsman (1364603) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525286)

I am not sure about verizon, but in the past I seen carriers charge (in the US) an extra "service fee" for paying at a store.

This may be them just closing "fee avoidance loopholes" :P

Why not do the obvious? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38524988)

And give auto-pay customers a $2 discount?

Re:Why not do the obvious? (1)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525022)

And give auto-pay customers a $2 discount?

It's not obvious? They want to make more money, not lose money.

Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them? (4, Interesting)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38524994)

Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them?
They need a small team of highly paid people instead of thousands of people across the country to collect cheques from drop boxes and cash at stores.
If they have 1 person per store to collect cash, wouldnt they have to increase the no. by a lot to make up for the extra load created by this fee?

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525016)

not if someone avoids a late charge using them.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525060)

Here they waive the late fee if you are late by a day or 2 occassionally
Due dates are 20-25 days after the bill date anyways so you have plenty of time.
Would be better in US I guess

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525146)

Lucky you. Here in the US, I've heard of credit card companies would sit on payments in the incoming mail for a day or two just so they can call it late when they finally open it up. (Postmarks? Why should they care about that?)

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525206)

That's actually a fact. There was a lawsuit, federal investigation, etc... happened in California, I forgot the name of the bank. It was on 60min some time back.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525210)

Well, its much more difficult to get an unsecured credit card here
You wont get one unless you have a job. Even then they will give you one with a tiny credit limit till you make ontime payments for a while.
After all that they will still not give you a card with a limit more than 3-4 months of your salary

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (4, Insightful)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525050)

of course it is cheaper for them, that has nothing to do with the fee. Paying online or over the phone is quicker, easier, and cheaper for the consumer, therefore more convenient. If Verizon can leverage that convenience as a premium service, then they will bill for it. There are plenty of colleges and utilities that do this same thing. Pisses me off, but at least with Verizon there is some chance of moving to another company ( in some locations) as opposed to my water bill, which I pretty much just have to suck it up.

These are the things that made AT&T swallowing T-mobile such a bad deal. More competition actually removes this kind of crap. Fewer companies makes collusion easier, and these fees will pop up everywhere.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (2)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525112)

The company is charging extra if customers use a service thats cheaper for the company
Doesnt this have a massive chance of backfiring by a large proportion of people actually walking into and clogging up stores to pay their bills in person?
Or are phone bills so high in US that $2 is an insignificant percentage?

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (1)

multimediavt (965608) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525294)

Ahhh, but paying online is also a convenience for Verizon as the data entry labor is all done by the customer and then processed by the same systems the internal people use whether you paid by phone or mail. It's horse shit! It's like that $5.00 charge the banks wanted to impose on Debit Card users, and the customer response should be the same (will be from me!).

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525070)

Cash and cheques don't incur the same fees as online processing, which usually entail VISA/MC/AMEX/etc taking their 2% or more of the transaction in fees. In addition, they are Non Qualified transactions. This is because the card is not present, thus there is a higher likelihood that there could be a charge back, so the processing company charges an additional fee.

I think Verizon is idiotic for adding this surcharge that is so obviously a cash grab, but I would like to dispel the idea that the online transactions are inherently cheaper. They have staff at retail outlets for sales already, so the fixed costs for the rentals are already taken into account.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525102)

I would think online payment would be less expensive; the solution then seems to be to organize a movement for everyone to pay online and make them regret this decision.

Personally, I use a pre-paid cell phone, and I would prefer to mail a check. I can go to my bank's website, and they'll print and mail the check for me. The real advantage is it is not my account listed, its one my bank maintains, so they know the approved payments and anything else gets blocked. When a problem occurs, its the bank's problem not mine so I don't have to worry about them next month deciding to try to automatically bill me like I do when I pay with a credit/debit card or check.

For amounts which stay the same, I can automate the procedures; for ones which vary (like cell phones because there's ALWAYS some additional charge), you just type in the amount when you get the bill. I usually have it scheduled to be paid a couple days after pay day, but I can still set the amount the night I get the bill making it easy to not forget. On pay day, I just go in and see which monthly bill's don't have a payment scheduled and follow-up with the company to see why I haven't gotten a bill and how much I owe.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525178)

Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them?
They need a small team of highly paid people instead of thousands of people across the country to collect cheques from drop boxes and cash at stores.
  If they have 1 person per store to collect cash, wouldnt they have to increase the no. by a lot to make up for the extra load created by this fee?

They may actually be passing down their online credit card processing fees.

When you set up an online shop to accept credit cards, you have to have an intermediary service that your back-end systems call to validate the credit card, ensure the card will accept your charge, and start the ball rolling on processing the charge. These services generally take 1-5% (based on which processor you use) per transaction. On a $100 monthly bill, that would come to $1-5 per month.

I'm certainly not defending them here; I think adding the charge NOW instead of when they first set up online payment is in bad taste. However, this does provide a plausible explanation.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525256)

Probably. Which is why it would be amusing to see what happened if people decided en masse to pay by paper and in person until Verizon's policy changes.

Re:Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525352)

Arent online payments actuallt cheaper for them?

Um, yeah ... don't apply for any jobs in marketing or management, ok? You're not cut out for it.

Hmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525000)

Sounds like it's time to pay the bill with a bag of pennies instead. If that's inconvenient for them, for $5 they can get a check instead.

Re:Hmm (1)

berashith (222128) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525066)

Now this is a protest that I would appreciate.

Anonymous (2)

C_Kode (102755) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525006)

Anonymous, sic'em!

Phone Company? (2)

rickyb (898092) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525026)

Wait, isn't Verizon a phone company? And would you likely be making the call on their own lines? Would it be free if you called using an AT&T phone? Sprint? T-Mobile? Is this what they would prefer?

I wonder if mailing a payment in is cheaper (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525042)

Is it cheaper for them to accept a payment via mail or at the store? really? Ridiculous. This sounds like just a way to stop people using credit cards to pay, since direct debiting your checking account waives the fee.

Re:I wonder if mailing a payment in is cheaper (1)

whovian (107062) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525144)

direct debiting your checking account waives the fee.

Certainly not universally, but perhaps it does with Verizon. Paying my rent via directing debiting of a checking account incurs something like a $2.99 "convenience fee." Too little information to say whether it's a small-volume issue, greed, or otherwise. yet, I can pay via hand-delivered paper check with no extra fees.

Re:I wonder if mailing a payment in is cheaper (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525288)

Sorry, yes, according to the linked article, paying by ACH or direct debit waives the fee

Re:I wonder if mailing a payment in is cheaper (4, Interesting)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525258)

Is it cheaper for them to accept a payment via mail or at the store?

You'll never know. Last time I got a cellphone I demanded the Verizon employee tell me what my bill would be for a normal month. Not the "45 voice + 30 data" but what the number I would actually be billed after taxes, fees, interest, gratuity, and graft. They couldn't tell me. They said there was no way to get that number until the bill was calculated because of the taxes. ATT could tell me within a nickel without any hesitation.

Verizon has been struggling for a long time. If they don't get their activation fees, random fees, roaming charges, and payment fees - they would go broke. It's only fair that we consumers would help a struggling giant in this era where everyone is ditching their cell phones for landlines and carrier pigeons. We pay $35 to have the privilege of becoming their customer, $200 if we want to stop being a customer early - it's only fair we pay $24/year to stay their customer.

Fee is waived for certain cases. (5, Informative)

bongey (974911) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525052)

The fee is waived if you pay by electronic check or auto pay. This only effects last minute payments.

Re:Fee is waived for certain cases. (3, Insightful)

jbeaupre (752124) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525140)

For now.

Re:Fee is waived for certain cases. (1)

Phylarr (981216) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525308)

What? It affects anyone who pays by credit card but doesn't want to give VZW permission to store their card info. It has nothing to do with last-minute payments.

Re:Fee is waived for certain cases. (5, Insightful)

dnahelicase (1594971) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525322)

The fee is waived if you pay by electronic check or auto pay. This only effects last minute payments.

It appears this affects online payments, even if you make them early. Last minute has nothing to do with it. It's whether or not you give Verizon the ability to take money from you every month with blanket consent.

It's not about saving transaction fees, it's about getting consumers to stop thinking about and analyzing their bill every month. That 1.99 data fee that was pissing everyone off? Now it's just a number on your statement that's pretty close to last month. Want to call an complain about it? They already have your money. Good luck getting it back. Most people are going to sit on the phone for 30 minutes to get back $1.99. However, many people will shortpay a bill when they are sure they aren't responsible for something. If you are a person that logs in to the website every month and views your bill and schedules a payment, you are probably looking at the details. If you are an autopay person, you probably aren't - and don't even remember your online password.

Some time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525056)

I complained about how much my cell phone company ripped me off. I was told that I should have read the contract more carefully. Now I say that you shouldn't do business with these companies because they rip you off seven ways from Sunday. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.

Re:Some time ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525356)

well the nice thing is most companies like this will mail you change of terms about 3-4 times a year you just call in and say that you are canceling the contract due to their change in terms of the contract...

Stupid (1)

gweihir (88907) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525058)

All over Europe, you may have to pay a fee for not paying online, but nobody would charge you for making things cheaper for everybody.

It's about getting people to sign up for autopay (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525062)

The fee is waived for autopay.

The economy sucks, they want all their accounts on autopay so the phone bill gets taken out before other bills if the customer's money can't pay them all.

Beware of autopay. Once you bill is autopaid you have a lot less leverage in billing disputes.

New trend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525074)

Some airlines are starting to do this (charge) with online check-ins. Maybe it is some form of ill advised job protection measure for Verizon letter openers/airline counter people.

Paper Bill (1)

mkw87 (860289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525086)

Time to make them send me a paper bill again. Just because I can, which is no different than what they are doing with this charge.

Re:Paper Bill (2)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525106)

Don't they charge $5 for that?

Re:Paper Bill (1)

mkw87 (860289) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525198)

Not that I remember, it's free as far as I know. Should be illegal for any company to charge for you to receive a bill.

Re:Paper Bill (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525300)

No company charges you to receive a bill. What they charge you for are optional, expensive methods of receiving them, like printing them on paper and sending them to you in the mail.

Re:Paper Bill (1)

Dyinobal (1427207) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525176)

hell i'll do more than make them send me a paper bill. I'll pay my next bill in pennies. Lets see how they like them apples.

and so does... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525088)

Nissan, ADT, and a host of other companies...

however, only an ID10T would use a company's on-line billing system (most are a nightmare, with ADT being one of the worst)

normal, intelligent folks will use the 'BillPay' feature of one's bank, with no fees and no stamps involved

(USAA is tops in this regard)

Just More Gouging - Nothing More - Move On (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525100)

Time to try another vendor - 'nuff said

Because of autopay (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525110)

It says in the full article that they won't charge $2 if you use an electronic check or autopay. These are probably handled entirely by bank computers. This means that they get your money perfectly on time, Hope you don't notice when your bills go up, and they don't need to pay to keep so many servers going.

People are strange. (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525120)

From the artcle:

If youâ(TM)re a Verizon subscriber I suggest using an alternative payment method and avoiding it at all costs.

I would suggest not costing yourself more than $2 to avoid a $2 charge. Well unless you have a way to inconveniance Verizon and don't mind paying to do so of course.

The point is not to collect more money... (1)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525122)

The gist of this is to collect the money more *reliably*... If you set up auto-billpay (even if you choose to pay your bill some other way, which works fine in their system) you will not see this fee. They are doing this solely to encourage (nay, force) users to set up some sort of auto pay account so that they can have the assurance of getting their $165 per month for a family cell phone package... Like it or hate it, the fact is most users won't give a crap, either because they already chose the automatic option or they underestimate the ability for VZ to hide fees as line items that never get noticed, and just throw money at their cellphone bill each month anyway. Think of it this way, that $2 fee is only the equivalent of 8 full-rate text messages. And how long does it take you to rack up 8 text messages?

Re:The point is not to collect more money... (1)

khr (708262) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525276)

And how long does it take you to rack up 8 text messages?

It takes me a couple of months to rack up 8 text messages...

So? Send 'em a check! (1)

bradm (27075) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525132)

Seems like the answer is pretty simple to me: Verizon customers should send them a check until they drop this policy. Note that I didn't say "drop your online payment option and send them a check." Simply send them a check, for a little bit too much, a week before your automatic billing date. They can sort out how to handle the expense of processing all of those checks, plus cancelling (or reversing, even better) the automatic payment for that cycle, deal with the trivial credit balances on the account, and generally be miserable. If they charge you automatically with the service fee, complain that the service was already paid for. If you and 10,000 of your closest friends do this, the policy will change in one month. If they refuse your alternate payment in any fashion, call your state attorney general, the BBB, enterprising consumer reporters, and the rest of the usual suspects.

Or just shrug and go along with it as most consumers do, which is why this is a smart move for Verizon. Wait until you get a "wire maintenance fee" for the charger on your cell phone.

Then how do they want us to pay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525156)

I guess they don't want us to pay online then - so how do they want us to pay? Cheque? Cash?

In some businesses this is common (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525160)

Take Live Nation/Ticketmaster for example. They will charge a fee for online sales, specifically for "e-tickets" to cover money that they thought they'd be able to make up on shipping.

In this case though they really are most likely trying to make up money from the cost of keeping the website and payment processes working and secure. Not saying your normal bill doesn't cover it.. but someone has probably looked at their budget and realized that the My Account features don't directly generate revenue... so it's a cost.. and it's eating into the profit of the rest of the company. Not thinking that the features really are part of the package to begin with.

On the phone payment charge... I think they're justified in that.. it's a small charge (compared to others which want $10, $15, or more) and it does tie up the phone line.

Not the only ones (2)

SJHillman (1966756) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525164)

My water supplier also charges an extra $2.50 "convenience fee" for paying online. This comes to about 10% of the total bill most months. It's a pain in the ass because the only other form of payment they accept is checks and I don't own a checkbook (I prefer to use credit cards for everything possible... yay cashback).

REALLY SLASHDOTTERS??? RTFM!!! (1)

billraper (1364197) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525168)

Hey, Slashdot! Read the actual article. Verizon is ONLY charging the fee if you use a one-time-payment method other than e-check. If you use e-check, the fee is waived. All they are doing is passing along the credit/debit card fees. If you are enrolled in auto-pay, the credit/debit card fee is waived!

Re:REALLY SLASHDOTTERS??? RTFM!!! (2)

FranktehReaver (2441748) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525306)

NO! Assumptions are what America thrives on! Now I will go back to only reading articles to the point where something makes me angry.

Re:REALLY SLASHDOTTERS??? RTFM!!! (1)

acoustix (123925) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525360)

Auto-pay is dangerous. It gives the customer no leverage in disputes. Also, I will not allow Verizon to store my credit card information.

This is total bullshit.

NEVER give a creditor access to your bank account (5, Insightful)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525196)

If a dispute occurs they have your money and you have little recourse. With a credit card payments you can do a chargeback if they take too much. Using your bank's online bill pay gives you positive control, which means you decide how much to pay as opposed to Verizon deciding how much to take.

Never EVER give a creditor access to your bank account. This includes Paypal.

Convenient for who? (1)

DigiTechGuy (1747636) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525212)

The state of NJ charges a $2 "convenience fee" to renew your vehicle registration online or the same fee per any transactions they allow online. They mail you a renewal form pre-filled out with a reference number and you can go to their site, type in the number, and it populates everything for you. Alternatively you fill in the missing lines on the form and bring it to the DMV. I'll spend the gas and time to go to the DMV, because I'm not paying an additional $2 tax to the State for something that saves them money, they tax the hell out of me already.

Regardless, in this VZ situation it seems the easiest option to avoid the fee, and postage, hassle of writing a check is use your banks bill pay feature if they offer one, or sign up with one of several free bill pay services. The end result is they send either a paper check in the mail for you or a electronic check, however that works, but the bill gets paid adn it would seem from Verizon's verbage that the "convenience fee" does not apply to those types of payments. Thus you avoid the fee and still pay the bill. If there's no way to avoid it without it being an inconvenience, cancel the service. Use another provider. On a related note, I hope this doesn't apply to FIOS or I'll be stuck switching to cable or DSL or maybe smoke signals. I won't tolerate nickel and diming through fees on services I use that SAVE a company money.

They've always done this! Calm down! (1)

Anonymous Codger (96717) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525254)

As long as I've been paying online, they've charged a fee if you use your credit card. No fee if you pay from your checking account, and this hasn't changed.

This article illustrates why I don't regard Slashdot as a reliable news source.

Sprint charges $5 a month if you don't use autopay (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525282)

This is nothing, Sprint, while offering cheaper plans than Verizon still nickels and dimes you to death with a $4.99 a month fee if you don't sign up for auto-pay. They also have "Sprint Surcharges" on top of the taxes and other fees.

Chris Dodd and Barney Frank (0)

hondamankev (1000186) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525320)

approve of these charges.

Comcast did this a couple years ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38525354)

Comcast started this a couple years ago. With them your only free route is autopay, or pay in person at an office (required by law [at least in washington]).

Verizon doing this is probably stage one in a plan to encourage people to sign up for autopay so that they can then jack up prices without you noticing. That's what has happened with Comcast.

people keep missing the point (4, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#38525370)

This has nothing to do with how much it costs verizon. Businesses do not charge you based on what their costs are. They charge you based on what you are willing to pay.

Quit arguing over whether or not the charge is justified. It doesn't HAVE to be justified. Either you're willing to pay it or you're not. Somewhere some verizon bean counters ran all the hard math that factors in their actual costs, in terms of providing the service, loss of business, handling angry phonecalls,bad press, etc, and figured this was a net-win, and so they did it. That's all there is to it. You're totally missing the point if you're trying to figure out why verizon is "justified" in making a change to their charges. If you're willing to pay for it, they're justified in charging for it. Nothing else matters in the business world.

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