Bloomberg News

Verizon Ends Third-Party Charges Through Landline Bills

March 21, 2012

Verizon Communications Inc. (VZ) agreed to stop unwanted charges from third parties on customers’ landline telephone bills, U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller said.

“Verizon has stepped up for consumers in a big way” and other companies also should stop the practice, known as cramming, Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat who is chairman of the Commerce Committee, said in a statement today.

An investigation by the panel last year showed third-party billing through landline telephone bills was a $2 billion industry, according to Rockefeller. Most cramming comes from companies providing services such as voice mail, personal toll- free numbers, website hosting and e-mail, said Bill Kula, a spokesman for New York-based Verizon.

During the past five years, phone companies billed more than $10 billion in third-party charges, and a large percentage appeared to be unauthorized, the committee found.

“Telephone customers have been tricked into paying for third-party services they didn’t want or use or even know they were being billed for,” Rockefeller said.

Rockefeller said he wants Verizon to move “as quickly as possible” to put its new policy into place.

Rockefeller said he’ll introduce a bill to end cramming “on all landline telephone bills once and for all.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net;

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Bernard Kohn at bkohn2@bloomberg.net


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