Verizon Wireless storeVerizon Wireless announced Sunday that it plans to refund up to $90 million in overbilling for "mistaken past data charges" that occurred over the past several years, but Federal Communications Commission officials say that doesn't get Verizon (VZ) off the hook.

Verizon says it erroneously billed about 15 million customers for data sessions their phones didn't initiate. And how did Verizon know it was in the wrong? These phones didn't have subscriptions for data plans. Despite that, the phones could still engage in minor data exchanges. Other customers were mistakenly allowed to access certain Web pages, Verizon says.

The carrier says most of the refunds will amount to just a few dollars and will be automatically credited back to customers' accounts. Explains Verizon in its statement:
In October and November, we are notifying about 15 million customers, through their regular bill messages, that we are applying credits to their accounts due to mistaken past data charges. We will mail former customers refund checks. In most cases, these credits are in the $2 to $6 range; some will receive larger credits or refunds.
Verizon's standard data plan charges $1.99 per megabyte. Customers probably don't want to leave it up to Verizon to see if they're eligible for a refund, so it would be wise, if possible, to look at past phone bills to see if a data charge was assessed on accounts that weren't signed up for data services.

Additional Penalties?

Still, the FCC says it plans to investigate why it took Verizon two years to notify customers of the problem, reimburse them and take corrective action, according to a CNBC report.

The report, citing a statement from FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison, says: "The Enforcement Bureau will continue to explore these issues, including the possibility of additional penalties, to ensure that all companies prioritize the interests of consumers when billing problems occur."

The FCC has been receiving hundreds of consumer complaints over the past three years regarding allegations of Verizon Wireless data overcharges, according to a New York Times report. Complaints ranged from data-use charges when phones weren't in use to inadvertently hitting a button that launched the browser.

The Times says Verizon had told the FCC in December that it wasn't charging customers whose Web browser accidentally connected to the Verizon Wireless Mobile Web page if the connection was immediately canceled. But Verizon has has apparently changed that stance.

Increase your money and finance knowledge from home

Bonds for Beginners

Learn about fixed income investments.

View Course »

Introduction to Value Investing

Are you the next Warren Buffett?

View Course »

Add a Comment

*0 / 3000 Character Maximum

107 Comments

Filter by:
wsa999

The FCC has made a lot of big mistakes themselves over the years.

October 05 2010 at 6:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
iamsmooth48

The refunds 2 to 6 dollars are not even half of what they over charged me. That a great scam Verizon

October 05 2010 at 5:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

It's all about the money.

October 05 2010 at 3:41 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
threedawgknights

They just now got caught, thats why! You can count on the fact they weren't going to offer anything, until they got caught

October 05 2010 at 3:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
stripedbass7

I KNEW I WASNT THE ONLY 1 ! VERIZON YOUR DONE GETTING MY $$$$

October 05 2010 at 3:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
stripedbass7

HEY VERIZON ! REMEMBER WHEN I TOLD YOU < I ABSOLUTELY DO NOT USE THE WEB BROWSER ON MY CELL PHONE.... & HOW YOU TOLD ME I WAS... AND HOW I ASKED YOU POLITELY TO DISABLE THAT OPTION. AND HOW THE NEXT MONTH YOU WOULD STILL CHARGE ME ! & THOSE 411 CALLS YOU CLAIM I MAKE ! WHEN IVE BEEn USING 1800 GOOGLE. I WOULD TELL FRIENDS : IMAGINE , $1.99- $3.99 FROM MILLIONS OF PEOPLE EVERY MONTH... AFTER MAKING ME WAIT ONLINE FOR 10 MINUTES, I KNEW MOST WOULD HANG UP.. NICE BONUS FOR THE CEOS. MONEY FOR NOTHING... JUST LIKE ENRON,BUSH, CHENEY, PALIN & FRIENDS. MUST BE A REPUBLICAN CONTROLLED COMPANY.

October 05 2010 at 3:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
fishhead5555

Gee thanks for the Happy Meal, Dicks.

October 05 2010 at 2:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
W. Conley Hall

VERIZON IS A GREEDY COLD HEARTED CORPORATION THEY ONCE TURNED A $7.42 UNPAID BALANCE THAT I DIDN'T EVEN OWE, OVER TO A COLLECTION AGENCY. EVEN THOUGH I AM A CUSTOMER, (WHO ELSE IS ANY BETTER, I DETEST THE WAY THEY CONDUCT BUSINESS, AS IF THEY ARE DOING ME A FAVOR. FAT CHANCE.

October 04 2010 at 11:58 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
Angela

I'm having a similar problem with my residentail service with verizon. They are just not an honest company and something needs to be done about them stealing for thire customers.

October 04 2010 at 9:28 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
roblasv

Cuz they needed the money... lol

October 04 2010 at 9:24 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply