Verizon has agreed to limit third-party charges on the bills of its customers, a move that some in Congress, including Senator Jay Rockefeller, are applauding.
At the heart of the issue are charges, tacked onto the bills of customers by companies other than Verizon. These can be for services that the customer may not even know they are paying for; not everyone pores over their bill each month, and so things can be missed for some time.
This can be malicious, or innocently expensive, as The Hill notes: “Some people unwittingly enrolled in services by submitting their phone number to companies online or by agreeing to services over the phone. Others never did anything to participate in the programs but were charged anyway.” Given that the expense of such charges runs in the hundreds of millions each year, or more, the issue is real.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, chaired by Rockefeller, called for a hearing to examine third-party charges, the practice is which is known as ‘cramming.’ While the Senator is looking for a ban on cramming, period, he praised Verizon:
Verizon is the first in the industry to put a stop to third-party billers for the sake of its customers following the Committee’s investigation. I hope they will move as quickly as possible to put this pro-consumer policy in place, and I strongly and urgently call on other companies to follow their lead.
Verizon could use the good will, as the company is working to push its deal with Comcast over spectrum rights and cross-marketing, through antitrust hearings. Whether other companies intend to follow Verizon, and if so, how quickly, is not known at this time. However, I recommend that you check your phone bill a bit more closely this month, just in case.