Verizon Wireless Accused of Making $240 Million on Data-Fee Mistake

A lawyer who filed a petition with the FCC is accusing Verizon Wireless of making more than four times what it refunded to customers after months of charging them for data they didn’t use.

It all started in 2009 when reports surfaced of customers discovering mysterious $1.99 data charges on their cellphone bills. This was before just about everyone seemed to have a smartphone, and the mobile Web wasn’t as prevalent as it is now. Many of the VzW subscribers said they had not used their phones to connect to the Internet, but had been charged month after month anyway. As many as 15 million subscribers may have been impacted over a two-and-a-half year period.

The FCC and Verizon came to an agreement in 2010 whereby Big Red would refund nearly $53 million to its customers and shell out another $25 million to the government to end the investigation. That was the largest payment of its kind in the agency’s history.

Fast-forward to this week, when Washington, D.C., attorney Arthur Belendiuk petitioned the FCC to investigate the case again. Belendiuk says, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, Verizon may have taken in $240 million from the erroneous charges more than four times what it refunded to customers, the New York Times reported. Verizon told the newspaper that "the allegations were without merit."

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