Starting next month, Verizon Wireless is going to nickel-and-dime people who make one-time electronic payments–forty nickels or twenty dimes, to be exact:
Verizon Wireless today confirmed to Phone Scoop via email that it plans to institute a new $2 charge for customers who make single bill payments online or by telephone. The change goes into effect starting January 15. Verizon said that the fee will be waived in a number of circumstances, including: electronic checks sent through My Verizon Online, My Verizon Mobile, or via telephone; autopay enrollees who pay using credit/debit/ATM cards or electronic checks; payments made through customer home-banking services; credit/debit/ATM card or electronic check payments made at in-store kiosks; Verizon Wireless gift cards or Verizon Wireless device rebate cards to pay a bill in-store, online or by telephone; or a standard paper check or money order mailed directly to Verizon Wireless with a monthly invoice/bill. The telephone and online single payment fee will be disclosed up-front and throughout the transaction so that customers know it will be levied at the time of payment.
Many of the sites reporting on this are assuming that Verizon is charging extra for an option that actually costs it less money to provide. I’d love to know the exact math: How much does it cost the company in total when it sends you a paper bill which you then mail back to it? How much when you pay by credit card and it needs to pay a processing fee to Visa, Mastercard, Discover, or Amex? Does the $2 merely cover Verizon’s costs, as it seems to say, or is it padding its bottom line?
Here’s a Verizon page that gives the bad news and details the various options for avoiding the fee.