Award Winning Blog

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Monthly $2 Charge for Not Making Calls and How to Avoid It

My monthly Verizon landline bill arrived with a new $2.00 (plus 11% Universal Service Fund contribution) for not making any long distance calls. Like many consumers I have migrated most long distance calls to my cellphone and know the "casual calling" or "dial around" 10XXX option to make inexpensive toll calls.

I thought I had found a rate plan (at 40 cents a minute) that had no minimum and no charge to activate the presubscription when I departed from another company that had a monthly minimum. Verizon offered a rate plan I would never use, but one that could offer Verizon the chance to offer bundled services and other inducements.

Now Verizon has a $2.00 minimum and apparently no way of knowing that I am paying an affiliate of the company a cool $120 a month. So wireline Verizon treats me like a low tier non-revenue enhancer not worth the bother.

With an approach like that maybe I should join my college students in cutting the wireline cord and go wireless entirely. Something called the Missoula Plan (telcos like to name rate restructuring deals after the place the deal was first conceived) soon will cost wireline telephone subscribers $10 a month even before paying for a subscription.

The good news for me was a quite pleasant Verizon Customer Service Supervisor who waived the $2.19 and allowed me to eliminate Verizon as my presubscribed long distance carrier without having to pay about $6 for the privilege. I can still access long distance carriers, but not with the convenience of 1+ dialing.


Ben said...

(Ben Cramer) This reminds me of a credit card fee that was temporarily popular. If you didn't use the card for a while, they'd add a surcharge to make up for the interest fees that you weren't paying them thanks to your thrifty shopping. But apparently, since it's so easy to get new credit cards these days, customers jumped ship to cards that made a marketing point of NOT having that fee.

The problem with Telco's is you can't protest their fees by easily jumping to a new one. However, in this day and age you CAN go wireless altogether. If the old-school Telco's wish to retain their customers in the face of their growing obsolescence, this new type of fee won't help much.

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