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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