Despite class action lawsuits and an amendment to their contract, it seems the cell phone carrier has yet to appease this New York City cell user. From what Verizon told Peck, the early termination fee is the $175 per phone fee charged if he tries to end the contract before the two years signed up for. Despite his endless problems and complaints to Verizon, Peck is unable to get out of the contract without paying the early termination fee.
"I've probably spent at least forty hours on the phone with customer service trying to fix mistakes they've made but I've been charged for," he complains. "And I'm still being ripped off. I guess I have to see my contract out or pay the early termination fee for me and my wife to get out of it."
A litany of complaints about their service - crippled bluetooth on his Motorola handset purchased through Verizon, dropped service, incorrect information about monthly phone plans and being charged double minutes whenever he speaks to his wife - started exactly one billing cycle, or thirty days after he signed his new contract. Why did the problems start as soon as the cancellation fee took effect?
"I didn't even know there was a problem with the plan I was on until I got the bill one month later," he explains.
It seems he was given incorrect information at the Verizon store and he and his wife were on the wrong monthly family plan. By the time he had been bounced around customer service numerous times, been switched to a new plan and then back, he found out he had a whole new set of problems. And still the niggling problem of the cancellation fee should he try his luck with a different cell phone carrier.
"[Me and my wife] carefully track our minutes by logging into our account everyday. So imagine my surprise when I got a bill for several hundred dollars because we went over our minutes."
It seems Justin Peck and other Verizon customers have no way of tracking their usage. When Peck or his wife sign into their online account they see a tally of minutes they've used making calls during peak hours, weekend and off-peak hours and IN Calling, calls made only to other Verizon customers including his wife. At the bottom of the report, it even states what time the last call was made at so they can see how up-to-date the account is. Normally, it tracks calls within minutes so that only moments after making a call it shows up online.
On their plan, North America's Choice, they pay $100 for 1400 peak minutes, 1000 off peak minutes and 1000 IN calling minutes per month. If they use more than that, they're charged a hefty $.45 per minute which can easily turn into hundreds of dollars, making tracking minute usage per month crucial.
However, the only indication that the online log isn't accurate is a disclaimer in fine print stating that "This is an estimate of the minutes used since your last statement date", estimate being the key word.
Even when he's in New York City, where he lives, if his call bounces off a non-Verizon tower, that call won't be added into his minutes until thirty days later after the cycle has already ended. So unless he writes down each call, a call that bounced off another tower won't show up online on time. It seems that unless Peck uses a stopwatch, he has no way of tracking how many minutes he's used.
READ MORE LEGAL NEWS"I tried to keep track by timing each call but it just wasn't practical especially when I'm traveling and only using my cell phone. It's like a part-time job - rounding up each second to the minute and getting out a timer, pen and paper each time I get on the phone. I mean, come on."
Although Peck was able to get the charges reversed after arguing on the phone with Verizon for hours, he's been warned that he has to keep track or pay for going over.
Since he's stuck with the contract for another year, he's been trying to use fewer minutes and feels burned that he can't use the minutes he pays for. Even if another carrier could offer more satisfactory service, there's still the Verizon cancellation fee to contend with, despite the fact that their service has been riddled with problems from the very beginning.