Kevin Hunt: New Verizon Plan, But Charges Skyrocket. (That Was Not His Plan)

Francis Ahking of East Hartford only wanted to change his plan, not terminate his contract, when he visited Verizon Wireless store in South Windsor in early July.

Share Everything, with unlimited talk, text and shareable data, now best suited his family and their newly issued smartphones. Ahking and his family then used their phones as if they had the new plan — except they didn't.

A week later, his online bill did not reflect the change. He returned to the South Windsor store, where he was told it would be changed immediately. Two days later, he checked his account online and it still showed the old plan. He tried to change it online, couldn't, so he called customer service. A technical issue, he was told, would prevent the update for several hours, until noon.

At noon, Verizon texted him that change would become effective at 6 p.m. Later, Verizon called and said it was still working on the problem and would call him back.

"No one called back," says Ahking.

Two days later, he checked his account online again. And again, it showed the old plan. Finally, Verizon said the switch would happen at the start of the next billing cycle, Aug. 11. Ahking, naturally, wanted the original July start date.

When he checked back Aug. 11, his account showed $378.66 in charges, when he expected $192 under Share Everything. The bill included almost $180 in overage charges in minutes and text.

"To add insult to injury," he wrote in a letter to Verizon customer service, "the minutes overerage charges are for off-peak minutes. Off-peak minutes are free minutes under my old Verizon plan!"

Ahking finally got the Share Everything plan, but now he had to fight the new charges. Back and forth he went with Verizon throughout August and into September. The overage charges, he was told, were a mistake. We'll call you back, he says he was told at least three times. When no one did, he wrote that letter. Finally, deep into October, Verizon called and told Ahking his account had been credited $172.40.

"Although the amount was less than the $192 that I expected," he says, "I nevertheless thought that this was fair. I consider the matter settled."

The Bottom Line: Most companies care about their customers. When in doubt about a policy, speak to a manager or supervisor. Or try calling the corporate office. Sometimes, even a old-fashioned letter helps.

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