Washington, DCVerizon Wireless announced today that it will pay refunds totaling about $90 million to 15 million cell phone customers who were illegally charged for data sessions or Internet use. According to the New York Times, customers will receive either credits ranging from $2 to $6 on their Verizon Wireless October or November bills or, in the case of former customers, refund checks.
The FCC had received hundreds of complaints about unauthorized charges from the telecommunications company's customers spanning the past three years. Customers claimed they were charged for data usage or Web access when their phones were not in use or when they mistakenly pushed a button that was pre-programmed to instantly active the phone's Web browser. Since early 2009, a number of publications, including The New York Times and The Plain Dealer of Cleveland, reported that customers had been complaining of the charges but had often been ignored by Verizon Wireless.
Verizon might also be on the hook to pay a penalty for the unauthorized charges, which would serve as a deterrent for companies that might discover similar circumstances but fail to alert customers in a timely manner.