It’s not just you: spam calls to your cellphone are on the rise. The number of complaints to the FCC about unwanted calls has nearly tripled since 2010, to the point that around 2.4 billion robocalls are placed every month.
The FCC is working on a framework to help curb the problem, but for now, phone providers are on the front line of the fight-back. AT&T and T-Mobile have already rolled out a feature to users that helps identify incoming spam calls, and now Verizon is following suit.
But there’s a catch: T-Mobile and AT&T quite rightly don’t charge you for the privilege of not getting spam calls during dinner. But for Verizon customers, a little silence will run you an extra $3 per month.
The new service is called “Caller Name ID,” and it’s just a reselling of a caller ID database owned by Transaction Network Services (TNS), a backend phone company. It “adds helpful contact details including names of people and businesses that are not saved to your contacts” and “also identifies unwanted numbers and allows you to report them,” according to Verizon’s release.
In practice, it’s similar to a caller ID feature T-Mobile offers on the One plan currently, although T-Mobile’s free service lets you choose between screening or just automatically blocking spam calls, something that Verizon’s more expensive plan doesn’t appear to do. AT&T also offers Call Protect for free to most customers, which works in nearly the same way.
Compared to some of the other ridiculous fees and add-ons that get tacked on to phone bills, a $3 charge to protect against spammers doesn’t seem so bad. At least you’re getting something tangible, and $3 extra isn’t terrible when you’re already paying $80 a month for a phone line.
But Verizon already has a reputation for nickel-and-diming customers to death, something T-Mobile’s been attacking with taxes-and-fees-included plans for the last year. I can’t imagine that holding its customers ransom to protect them against spam calls is going to do much to change Verizon’s reputation.