The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) sent a letter to Verizon demanding answers about why it increased early termination fees for smart phone users as well as whether customers are charged for inadvertently accessing Verizon’s Internet services.
At dispute is that Verizon doubled early termination fees (ETF) for new customers that signed up to its wireless services with a smartphone. The company also charged a $2 fee of a number of customers who accessed its mobile Web by inadvertently loading their browsers.
A Verizon spokesperson responded to the inquiry, telling Gigaom, “Nobody is required to pay an ETF. You always have the choice of buying a mobile phone at full price with no ETF. Or you can buy a device at a discount with a 1- or 2-year contract. If you stay with your contract, you don’t pay a fee at all. We’ve heard from very few customers who accidentally accessed their web browsers, and we immediately credited them $1.99 per month for the problem.”
Of course, that response dodged the question about ETFs doubling for smart phone customers. This is just my guess, but it might have something to do with the recent availability of the Droid.
However, Verizon will have to respond to the FCC, which has increased its role as a consumer watchdog. If this is how the FCC is going to act going forward, I’m pleased – so long as the industry’s position is respected as well.