Verizon’s Deceptive Pricing

Verizon, it seems, is making its customers pay for its expansion up front and deceiving customers into believing their monthly bills will be, at least in my experience, 30 percent lower than they actually turn out to be.

We bought a MiFi gizmo with a Verizon data plan for, ostensibly, $59.99 per month. Of course, I expected taxes and government fees on top of that, and even some sort of “surcharge” for some costs within reason, but not an extra 30 percent.
According to Verizon, this added surcharge is for:

Verizon Wireless’ Surcharges

Verizon Wireless’ Surcharges include charges to recover or help defray costs of taxes and of governmental charges and fees imposed on us, including a Regulatory Charge (which helps defray costs of various regulatory mandates, including government number administration and license fees) and a Federal Universal Service Charge (and, if applicable, a State Universal Service Charge) to recover costs imposed on us by the government to support universal service, and may include other charges also related to our governmental costs. It also includes an Administrative Charge, which helps defray certain costs we incur, currently including (i) charges we, or our agents, pay local telephone companies for delivering calls from our customers to their customers, (ii) fees and assessments on network facilities and service, and (iii) certain costs and charges associated with proceedings related to new cell site construction. Please note that these are Verizon Wireless charges, not taxes. These charges, and what’s included, are subject to change from time to time.

Now, paying for unanticipated costs incurred on the way to delivering its service to me might be reasonable, or at least understating its price might be understandable for such little details.
But note that included in these costs are those for “proceedings related to new cell site construction” and for paying local phone companies for delivering calls.

In other words, Verizon adds on the costs on a variable basis as it builds new towers and encounters new fees from local phone companies, as if these can’t be anticipated.

OK, then don’t tell me it’s 60 bucks a month. Tell me you’re going to tack on extras, which this month ran up an extra $16.55.

Screen_shot_2010-05-15_at_3

 
The MiFi is a tiny little black box that connects to Verizon’s data network and then emits a wifi signal that up to five devices can tap at once. It works very well, and can turn our minivan into a traveling home office. Two iPhones and a laptop or two can hum along nicely with nearly unbroken access to the Internet.

Verizon gives you choices up front about how much to pay for the box itself. I bought the most expensive one because it doesn’t require a one- or two-year contract at the alleged $59.99 a month, and I don’t anticipate needing it every month.

In other words, I invested up front, believing my monthly outlay would be at most $60, plus taxes, in months we use it. And even that price — $60 for 5 GB? — required a couple hard swallows.

As it has turned out, we haven’t had a month since when either my wife or I were not traveling somewhere and wanted it active.

The 5 gigabyte limit has been plenty for us, but at $77 a month for Verizon’s access, a 3G iPad and AT&T’s $15-$30 plans are looking much more attractive — even paying for the iPad.

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About Scott Hunter

Editor of The Star newspaper in Grand Coulee, observer of life, history, patterns in things that matter.
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