NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Friday, December 30th, 2011

After Internet outcry, Verizon backtracks, drops plans to charge $2 “convenience fee”

Chalk up anoth­er vic­to­ry for the Inter­net:

Ver­i­zon Wire­less has decid­ed it will not insti­tute the fee for online or tele­phone sin­gle pay­ments that was announced ear­li­er this week.

The com­pa­ny made the deci­sion in response to cus­tomer feed­back about the plan, which was designed to improve the effi­cien­cy of those trans­ac­tions. The com­pa­ny con­tin­ues to encour­age cus­tomers to take advan­tage of the numer­ous sim­ple and con­ve­nient pay­ment meth­ods it pro­vides.

“At Ver­i­zon, we take great care to lis­ten to our cus­tomers. Based on their input, we believe the best path for­ward is to encour­age cus­tomers to take advan­tage of the best and most effi­cient options, elim­i­nat­ing the need to insti­tute the fee at this time,” said Dan Mead, pres­i­dent and chief exec­u­tive offi­cer of Ver­i­zon Wire­less.

A peti­tion on Change.org demand­ing that Ver­i­zon Wire­less drop the fee had already gar­nered around 100,000 sig­na­tures by Fri­day after­noon.

It’s now clos­ing in on 130,000.

If Ver­i­zon was tru­ly pay­ing atten­tion — and lis­ten­ing to its cus­tomers — it would nev­er have attempt­ed to intro­duce this ridicu­lous $2 “con­ve­nience fee” in the first place. Still, Ver­i­zon exec­u­tives are clear­ly smarter than Bank of Amer­i­ca’s head hon­chos. Instead of allow­ing the furor to fes­ter for weeks, they’ve quelled it by revers­ing course and aban­don­ing their plans quick­ly.

It real­ly is absurd that finan­cial insti­tu­tions in this coun­try are allowed to get away with slap­ping such high charges on trans­ac­tions. When we at NPI accept a con­tri­bu­tion from a donor, we don’t get to keep one hun­dred cents of every dol­lar. Instead, we have to pay a tax to Visa, Mas­ter­Card, Amer­i­can Express, or Dis­cov­er. And unlike real tax­es, which fund need­ed pub­lic ser­vices, the de fac­to tax­es col­lect­ed by Visa and its rivals are pock­et­ed as prof­its.

Sad­ly, it’s got­ten to the point where a dol­lar is no longer a dol­lar in this coun­try.

A mer­chant or non­prof­it that takes cred­it cards either has to pass the per-trans­ac­tion expens­es along to donors or cus­tomers, or eat those expens­es as a cost of doing busi­ness. Cred­it card pro­cess­ing fees are a not insignif­i­cant expense for any firm or orga­ni­za­tion that does ecom­merce.

And big banks are only try­ing to make a bad sit­u­a­tion worse. If they could get away with charg­ing to process checks and even cash pay­ments, they would.

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