Verizon Wireless could've expected this.
The carrier is taking some serious hits in social-networking forums and in the blogosphere after announcing Thursday that it would start charging customers $2 for making single payments online or by phone.
The fee, which takes effect Jan. 15, 2012, " will help allow us to continue to support these single bill payment options in these channels and is designed to address costs incurred by us for only those customers who choose to make single bill payments in alternate payment channels (online, mobile, telephone)," Verizon Wireless explained in a press release. Paying by electronic check, enrolling in AutoPay or paying via home banking are all ways to dodge the fee, but that's not nearly enough for some customers.
Take 22-year-old Molly Katchpole, for instance, who has started an online campaign to get VzW to change its mind. The company better take her seriously; Katchpole started a similar campaign earlier this year via Change.org. It drew 300,000 people from all 50 states to a petition that encouraged Bank of America to dump its plans to institute a $5 debit card fee. The bank eventually kowtowed to the demand.
“Verizon just announced a new $2 fee for paying your bills online," Katchpole said. "Really. Even though paying via Internet is fully automated. It’s not just about the money (though if you’re like me, you don’t have extra cash to be sending to a giant phone company in order to pay your own bills.) It’s that Verizon thinks it can do anything to its customers, and that we’re powerless to stop it, but we’re not."
Verizon Wireless might earn more good will in the long run by cancelling its plans for the fee – it could be worth more than the money it collects and the potential customers it might lose as a result.