Verizon Wireless on Friday announced that it is canceling plans to charge a $2 convenience fee to customers making one-time bill payments online or over the phone. The carrier announced earlier this week that the new fee would allow it to continue providing subscribers with the option to make one-time payments using its web-based and telephone payment systems. Following a rash of negative press and customer complaints, Verizon confirmed that it will scrap plans to introduce the new fee next month. “At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers, Verizon Wireless CEO Dan Mead said in a statement. “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.” The carrier’s full press release follows below. More →
T-Mobile announced on Tuesday that it will expand its Direct Carrier Billing option to support more digital products. The service allows T-Mobile customers to make purchases directly from their web browsers and charge them to their monthly T-Mobile bills. Customers can purchase music, games, social networking credits and more from their phones, T-Mobile tablets, or any of their computers connected to a T-Mobile network. Direct Carrier Billing will be available later this month, and once it is active, customers will see the option from participating providers during checkout. There is no additional fee for Direct Carrier Billing and customers can opt-out by contacting T-Mobile support. Read on for the full press release. More →
An MSNBC investigative report, and related lawsuit, claims that AT&T has “systematically overstated” the data usage of iPhone and iPad customers. Lawyers for the plaintiffs, seeking class action status, hired an independent computer firm to compare the actual amount data used by iPhone and iPad customers with the amount that AT&T bills users for. “Did you find overcharges on every single transaction,” asked MSNBC’s Lisa Myers, speaking with the investigating firm’s representative. “Yes, every single one,” he responded. “Did you ever find an instance where the discrepancy worked to the benefit of the customer,” poses Myers as a follow-up question. “Never,” quipped the representative. “Always an overcharge; never an undercharge.” The study alleges that AT&T overstates customer data usage by 7% to 14% and, in some rarer cases, by up to 300%. To illustrate its point, the firm bought a new AT&T iPhone and line of service, “disabled everything that might trigger data usage,” and let the phone sit untouched for ten days. During that time period, thirty-five different data charges appeared on the virgin phone’s bill. AT&T responded to the report saying that the claims are “without merit” and that applications may auto-update or refresh in the background without a consumer’s knowledge or consent. Whatever the reasoning is for the purported up-charging, we’re sure this isn’t the last you’re going to hear about this one. A video clip of MSNBC’s report is waiting for you after the break.
UPDATE: An official statement from an AT&T spokesperson is after the break. More →
If you use BlackBerry’s App World to download applications, updates, and regularly find new content, you’ll be pleased as punch to know that App World 2.0 has just gone live in beta form. App World 2.0 brings a number of enhancements to the app — some much needed — and even some new payment options. For starters, credit cards are now directly supported instead of having to go through PayPal, and RIM has brought along support for carrier billing. In true RIM fashion, however, this is not available now, and RIM won’t say which carriers will support it. Next up is the ability to drill down different top 25 lists, something much needed. There are now top 25 paid, free, and theme sections. Simplifying the entire user experience is BlackBerry ID, something you can probably guess. It’s a device-independent user ID, something separate from PIN mumbo jumbo, and will streamline your purchasing profile, keep track of your downloaded applications, etc. Not much of a finder/gatherer? Lastly there is QR barcode support in the new version of App World, so look for developers to start using barcodes in promotional materials, emails, really anything. It’s available now on RIM’s beta site below for download. More →
Level with us — for all the complaining you do about your carrier not offering an affordable unlimited talk plan, how many minutes do you actually spend yapping on your cell phone per month? If you’re anything like the average person, you’re not doing it all that much. In fact, your use of data and texts far outweighs the voice minutes you log on a monthly basis, and what calls you do make are shorter. Since 2008, the CTIA has said voice calls are quickly going the way of the Dodo, with the average call length dropping over 20% from 2008 to 2009 alone. This comes at a time where the use of text messages alone increased 50% year-over-year, with half of America’s teens said to be sending more than 1,500 texts per month. So why is it that people are talking less? For starters, there’s convenience. Shooting someone a text, IM or email is far faster and less obtrusive than a phone call, allowing the recipients to carry on with their daily activities and respond at their leisure. Then there’s social customs. As rude as some might think it is to fire off a text in the company of others, we cannot imagine anyone who would prefer to sit in awkward silence as their friend carries out a 2 minute conversation about what’s happened on last night’s episode of The Hills. Not only that, but according to NPD analyst Ross Rubin, “handset design has become far less cheek-friendly” in recent years with most feature and smartphones requiring users to go through a multi-step process before initiating a simple phone call. So what does the future hold for the wireless industry? In lieu of the traditional charge for voice minutes, industry analysts are predicting that carriers will instead charge for the amount of data used…and we’re not sure that is going to be better.
Guest post by a “connect” in the wireless industry.
Absolutely dread going to your location wireless provider’s store and having to be social? If it’s one of your worst nightmares, hopefully this will help you change that. Here are a few tips that might help you get a better deal on a phone and keep the hurt off your wallet. After all, if you’re like us… you’ll be buying a new phone every 6 months anyways. More →
Early last month we reported on a policy change at T-Mobile that we weren’t exactly happy with. In a nutshell, T-Mobile decided it would force its subscribers to enroll in paperless billing lest they wish to pay an additional fee for hard copies each month. While the move was somewhat admirable on an environmental level, we were far more concerned with the ramifications this new policy would have on those without the aptitude, or financial means or equipment necessary to make use of online billing (yes, there are many people who do not own a computer). We were pretty firm with our stance and it looks like we weren’t the only ones — T-Mobile announced today that it is reversing its decision on the matter:
Since the announcement we’ve heard everything from kudos to concerns about the move to paperless – especially from our customers who today are receiving paper bills at no charge.
So, we’ve decided to not charge our customers a paper bill fee for now. Instead, we’ll be taking more time to determine the fairest way possible to encourage people to go paperless.
Kudos, T-Mobile. As we said in our last post; if you want to encourage customers to go paperless, offer them an incentive to do so. There are a variety of reasons why a customer might choose to stick with paper billing and many of them are extremely valid. To penalize these customers with a fee is just plain wrong.
As fully immersed in technology as younger generations in the US are these days, we sometimes forget that there are still generations and demographics in this country who simply haven’t latched on to tech the way we have. The spunky bunch above who have gathered around a laptop to check out BGR simply aren’t representative of older generations and let us not forget the countless people in this country who cannot afford computers. The simple truth is that there are a magnitude of reasons why someone might not own, use or even know how to use a computer. Apparently however, T-Mobile thinks its poor and elderly postpaid subscribers should be penalized for being unwilling or unable to embrace a digital lifestyle.