Verizon reverses on $2 fee for one-time payments

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

NEW YORK (AP) -- After a customer backlash, Verizon Wireless on Friday dropped a plan to start charging $2 for every payment subscribers make over the phone or online with their credit or debit cards.

In a statement on its website Friday, the company said "customer feedback" prompted the decision to drop the "convenience fee" it wanted to introduce on Jan. 15.

Verizon wanted to steer people to electronic check payments, which are cheaper, and automatic credit card payments, which are more reliable.

A petition on Change.org against the fees had gathered more than 95,000 names by Friday afternoon, a day after Verizon, the country's largest cellphone company, announced the fees. The petition was set up by Molly Katchpole, who earlier this year started a successful campaign to make Bank of America drop a $5-per-month fee for debit-card use.

Payment processors for power companies usually charge "convenience fees" of up to $5 for every payment made by phone or online, but cellphone companies haven't taken the step yet. The furor against Verizon hints that they may have to wait further.

Verizon Wireless serves 91 million phones and other devices on accounts that pay the company directly, and more who pay indirectly through other companies. It's a joint venture of Verizon Communications Inc. of New York and Vodafone Group PLC of Britain.

Verizon's statement

Verizon Wireless has decided it will not institute the fee for online or telephone single payments that was announced earlier this week. The company made the decision in response to customer feedback about the plan, which was designed to improve the efficiency of those transactions.

The company continues to encourage customers to take advantage of the numerous simple and convenient payment methods it provides.

“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, president and chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless.