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Earlier today, Verizon Wireless, based out of New York, finally agreed to provide refunds to millions of its customers; refunds that will likely surpass the $90 million mark.   While this is good news for Verizon customers, A. Harrison Barnes, attorney and president, says many are questioning why it’s taken more than two years for these issues to get resolved, especially considering the number of complaints the company and the FCC received during that time.  It’s expected these refunds will apply to at least 15 million current and past customers.

The issue revolved around a few of the cell carrier’s phone and data packaging plans.  Customers who accidentally hit a button that started the phone’s browser were charged $1.99 each time.  Even when customers hit their escape or cancel keys within seconds, those charges still appeared on their monthly bills.  More than 15 million Verizon customers were affected.  Those still with the nation’s largest cell carrier will see refunds on their October and November statements.  For those no longer with Verizon, they can expect to see refund checks.

The lawyers for Verizon Wireless issued a statement on their client’s website on Sunday, said the founder.  It reads, in part, “Verizon Wireless values our customer relationships and we always want to do the right thing…we have addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future”.

The Federal Trade Commission, in its own statement, said “We’re gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers”.

Verizon, in the past, has been accused of rounding its customer’s bills up to its favor.  For instance, a sixty two second phone call equates to two minutes on those minute plans the company is so well known for.  Looks as though this trend will continue as more wireless companies are backing away from their unlimited plans and instead are opting for those plans that everything – including data plans- are charged by the minute.  This will likely mean even more padding by companies.  It is legal, however.  A company is free to package its services in any way it chooses.  Still, it could be that help is on the way, whether the big cell giants are prepared or not.  Services offered by Skype and Google are shaping up to be a cell company’s biggest nightmare.  Because the internet heavy hitters can offer for free what the phone companies charge for, the new way of staying connected is likely to change in the very near future.

It is expected the FCC will continue its own investigation for the potential of further penalties and fines, says A. Harrison Barnes.  The ten month investigation won’t be coming to a close in the near future, said one spokeswoman.  Surprisingly, when the announcement came on Monday, October 4, Verizon (VZ) was one of only a few stocks in the green.  The Dow dropped more than 101 points early while Verizon remained steady, even as the announcement was being made and the lawyers were preparing their clients for the aftermath.

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