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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Michael792 on April 30, 2014, 08:59:49 AM

Title: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Michael792 on April 30, 2014, 08:59:49 AM
So my Verizon bill is usually around the $150 mark. I lowered my plan by $20 and then bought a global texting plan for both my phones. That way, I could talk to my fiance at any point. (The Army has put me in Korea). The new global texting feature was $5 per phone. I just looked at my bill, and its over $1260. I was specifically told by multiple employees that I would incur no charges beyond the $5 per line. The extra charges in question are applied to my line only, which makes me think I was lied to and roaming still applies, though I was told otherwise. My fiance is currently attempting to fix this, as a call from Korea would be $2 a minute. (Yeah, guys, I know Verizon is completely unnecessary, but I didn't want to deal with getting rid of my phone before this. Now that this has happened, no matter whether I'm required to pay this crap or not, I'm never having Verizon again. I might use Republic Wireless for when I run my business after the army. Other than that, I don't want another cell phone.) So, I've got a few questions on this. First of all, if they determine it was their company policy and I'm at fault (even though their website is wickedly difficult to extract information from), can they legally force me to pay that bill? It will wipe out my savings nearly completely, especially once you add in line cancellation fees. (Just starting out in the world and recovering from past mistakes. I'm working on saving much more now). And if I don't, will that result in legal action or what? Also, do any of you know how this stuff works? It's completely ridiculous.

In fact, my fiance just informed me I got a text on 6 Apr telling me I'd get these charges, but what the text said was that I'd get charged only if I didn't have a plan, and I thought that's what the freaking global text shit was. I'm really upset about this, and it completely screws up my plans. I was going to be able to start investing just a couple months from now, but now it looks like a few more.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Shade00 on April 30, 2014, 09:22:50 AM
Well, Verizon has an international messaging package that lets you send from the US to other countries, and then they have a "global" messaging package that gets you discounted rates when roaming abroad. Assuming you have the global messaging package (international wouldn't do you any good), rates would be 50 cents per text sent and .05 per text received. It doesn't look like they have any plans that have a set number or unlimited global roaming messages.

If you have wifi, you should use Google Voice going forward. You can send/receive messages from regular phones using only data. You could also use Voice or another wifi VOIP service to call them and plead for a bill reduction - not sure if they offer any kind of relief for service members.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Cpa Cat on April 30, 2014, 09:39:06 AM
My experience is with Sprint, so I don't know if it applies. I have, on multiple occasions, screwed up my international calling/messaging and ended up with big bills (but none so big as yours).

Once, I did it myself, by changing things online and doing it wrong. I called, told them what I'd done and asked them to correct it. I basically said, "I realize this was my mistake, but I intended to do X, so can you please correct it?" I threw in that I was a longtime customer in good standing and great payment history. They did correct it - sort of. They gave me some blah blah blah about how they could only go back a couple of weeks, instead of for the whole billing cycle.

The other time, I spoke to someone and they misled me or were ignorant about their international calling plan. During the original phone call, I told them what I was planning and where I was going and told them to set me up with the best plan options for that. The representative failed utterly. My bill was around $600 (normal was $70). I was PO'd. I had to escalate to a manager due to the amount.

I explained that I called them and relied on them and that they should see a record of that call. They did and they fixed it completely - I went into this phone call armed with what SHOULD have happened. Had I not known, I don't think I would have gotten as far - no one seemed really savvy about international options and I found that I had to explain it.

Do you need to pay? What will happen if you don't is that they will ding your credit. There it will rot for 7 years, interfering with your life. You will pay more in increased interest, insurance, etc over 7 years than $1200. What are your options? You can pay and go to small claims - I think - but that's hard since you're overseas. Relying on the expertise of their agent is an appropriate legal argument.

Otherwise, lean hard to get them to at least cut it in half. You should be able to negotiate SOMETHING off the bill, based on being a customer in good standing and it clearly being a mistake. Also - it will probably help if your girlfriend repeatedly mentions that you're serving in the armed forces overseas. Verizon probably doesn't want to put itself in the position of ripping off service members.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Michael792 on May 01, 2014, 07:10:14 AM
Thanks for the reply! That information helped me out a lot. My fiance did call around the time I was originally posting, and the person she talked to said she took the charges off. I haven't seen my bill go down, but I'm assuming it will take a couple of days. Still, I mentioned it to my fiance. They're supposed to call her (in US time) today or tomorrow, and she'll mention it then. I will have extra charges for this month as well, but I asked her to mention that to them as well. It wasn't until 8 days into the billing cycle that I saw my bill and started trying to fix it. Regardless of what happens, I'm going to have her suspend my service until I get back to the US. Then I'll just go ahead and cancel it then (after having saved up to deal with the fees). And if they make me pay this crap, I will do my best to let every single person I know how crappy the company is. :D Won't get my money back, but maybe it'll help others not get ripped off. Like you mentioned, I think they did that discounted rate thing for me. The problem is I was lied to blatantly by two employees and a manager. That's what is ticking me off. It is not good policy to lie through your teeth to a customer.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: neophyte on May 01, 2014, 07:58:54 AM
Doesn't help with your current Verizon situation unless you cancel it, but I think cell service in Korea is way cheaper than in the US, at least it was when I lived there.  I assume near base they can probably help you in English, but if not, a Katusa friend could help you get set up.  For international stuff just use Skype/Google/texting apps (Kakao Talk is popular in Korea).  I'm currently in an international long-distance relationship and we have it worked out so we don't pay any extra for international for calls/texting, etc.  Good luck! 
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Sonorous Epithet on May 01, 2014, 08:21:29 AM
I believe there are apps that can cover for the high cost of international comms using data rather than cell signals. (Works best if you have WiFi access, not sure what your situation is.)

WhatsApp is popular for international texting. I use it to talk to my buddy in Costa Rica on the cheap. He can't send me SMS. I actually like WhatsApp more than my phone's default SMS app or Google Hangouts, it's got a lovely interface.

For international voice, I believe Skype is pretty cheap, although I haven't used it. My parents run a small business with an international clientele, which involves lots of their employees traveling around to service them. They make extensive use of Skype on their cell phones and computers to make international calls.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Michael792 on May 02, 2014, 02:34:05 AM
Yeah, the Katusas and the other soldiers here have told me about all that. I might do it if I can get this whole situation resolved without massive outpouring of resources. I might just use the extra income from suspension of my line to pay off debt instead, though. Then I can communicate through computer whenever I have time. As for the pricing, it's actually pretty comparable if you can't pay for the phone outright; otherwise it's fairly cheap, yes.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Michael792 on May 02, 2014, 07:27:47 PM
My fiance told me that Verizon had taken all charges for this up until the time she called off my phone. That's all of it! (Except maybe one or two, but I'll be ok with that. Had to tell some one to quit texting.) I'm happy enough with that for now. Moving our plan over onto my parents so we don't have to pay the basic plan charge ($34/mo for me), and we're going to suspend my phone service. Then when I get home I'm going to cancel my service outright and never go with them again. I'll go instead with companies like Republic Wireless, so I can just do month by month and save tons of money. Thanks for everyone's help!
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Ohio Teacher on May 02, 2014, 08:15:23 PM
I'm glad things worked out.  I'm sure some supervisor at Verizon weighed the possibility of a consumer-warrior-type article on the front page of CNN: "Soldier incurs $1200 Verizon bill."  An Army _______ (insert rank) was shocked to discover that keeping in contact with his fiance while stationed in Korea over the last month had cost four figures...... 

Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Threshkin on May 02, 2014, 08:45:33 PM
It does not help with your current problem but Skype is a great alternative.  We do daily video calls from the US to China for FREE.

Another good international communications option is WeChat.  It is enhanced texting for free.  My SO keeps in touch continuously with friends and family in China and Germany on the phone.  WeChat is very well known within the Asian community, not so much by westerners.  Ask your Korean friends about WeChat.  They should be able to hook you up.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Kaminoge on May 03, 2014, 01:49:08 AM
Glad you got it sorted.

If you both have iPhones then check out viber. I use skype as well but I like viber because it's like normal texting. So if I text my dad he sees it the next time he looks at the phone. With skype the message doesn't appear until you are both online. It's free to make calls through viber. I've spent almost 15 years overseas and I've never used my cell phone to make international calls - there's just no need, too many free ways to do it.
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Michael792 on May 03, 2014, 08:25:48 PM
Yeah, I'm using skype and facebook to communicate right now. As for my phone, pretty much completely useless over here. So I'm suspending it and I might get a Korean phone with unlimited data (that'd be like 50 a month for the plan) and use Cacao. Thanks for all your advice, guys. I'm sure I can use some of it and what I don't use, maybe others will be able to. As for you picture of the Verizon exec, that's pretty funny :D I like imagining that
Title: Re: Massive Verizon bill
Post by: Daley on May 03, 2014, 08:43:47 PM
Michael, give the cellphone and VoIP sections of the superguide a read for alternatives, it covers a lot of this stuff. Glad to hear you got Verizon to back off the bill, though.