This may well be the largest consumer telecommunications refund in history. Verizon Wireless said Sunday it will pay up to $90 million in refunds to some 15 million subscribers who were charged for data usage or Internet access, though they weren't on data usage plans. The company will credit current customers who were billed for bogus data sessions between $2 and $6 each on their October and November bills. And it will cut checks in the same amounts to former customers.
Here's the statement from Verizon Wireless Deputy General Counsel Mary Coyne:
Verizon Wireless values our customer relationships and we always want to do the right thing for our customers.
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.
As we reviewed customer accounts, we discovered that over the past several years approximately 15 million customers who did not have data plans were billed for data sessions on their phones that they did not initiate. These customers would normally have been billed at the standard rate of $1.99 per megabyte for any data they chose to access from their phones. The majority of the data sessions involved minor data exchanges caused by software built into their phones; others involved accessing the Web, which should not have incurred charges. We have addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future.