We all know that Verizon Wireless, and all other cellular carriers mainly exist to make a profit. They are all companies with many, many customers, after all. It might be, however, that at least some of their revenue is coming from accidental data usage from customers with no data plans. Not only that, but it seems as if the phones are designed to facilitate those charges.
David Pogue of the New York Times has received a message from a Verizon Wireless employee who is tired of the charges. The charges come from customers accidentally hitting a button for services like Mobile Web or Get It Now. By opening the apps and trying to connect, kilobytes are transferred. So much as a single kilobyte will get counted as 1 MB by Verizon (and presumably other companies), resulting in an additional $1.99 added to their bill. That even applies to customers who have data blocks, as some data is transferred in showing the message that they cannot use data. Combine this easy mistake with the fact that Verizon alone has 87 million customers, and there is a potential for huge revenue.
What Verizon, AT&T, and presumably the other carriers are doing isn’t illegal, though it can leave customers feeling cheated. $2 is a lot to pay for a single mistake that the customers probably attempted to rectify almost immediately. I know I’ve hit those buttons on occasion, and thought I’d fixed it by hitting END or closing the phone immediately, though apparently not. What’s worse is the fact that some phones can’t even be programmed such that those buttons do launch other apps. Even if they are reprogrammable, the option to do so is usually buried deep within the menu system so most average users might not be able to find it.
Read [NY Times]