Verizon told the FCC that it had to charge higher than normal Early Termination Fees because it spends so much money promoting new phones and strengthening its network. Nice try, Big Red, but there’s one FCC Commissioner who is definitely not buying that line of thought. Mignon Clyburn, one of five FCC commissioners looking into Verizon’s $350 ETF and accusations that it bills people for accidentally launching Internet service has released a statement that calls Verizon’s response “unsatisfying and, in some cases, troubling.”
Clyburn rejects Verizon’s defense of its ETF that still charges customers $120 to break a contract with only one remaining month. The commissioner wasn’t too happy about the explanation for those fees, saying, “No longer is the claim that ETF’s are tied solely to the true cost of the wireless device; rather, they are now also used [to] foot the bill for ‘advertising costs, commissions for sales personnel, and store costs.’” She notes that carriers already charge “high monthly fees,” so it’s difficult to believe the public is served by large ETF’s like Verizon’s hefty penalty.
Clyburn also didn’t accept Verizon’s denial that it charges customers who accidentally launch their Internet service. Though Verizon responded that it only charges people who navigates beyond the homepage of their browsers, Clyburn claims that recent stories in the press tell a very different story.
The statement reflects only the opinion of Clyburn and not the FCC, but it spells bad news for Verizon. The carrier enters this FCC review process with at least one guaranteed adversary who has trouble accepting its defense to high fees. Clyburn’s comments show that she is against excessive ETF’s, and signaled that she “looks forward to exploring this issue in greater depth with my colleagues in the New Year.” I wonder if Verizon is asking Santa for a friendlier response from the other 4 members of the FCC commission.