Understanding Hidden Fees in Your Verizon Wireless Bill

If Verizon Wireless is hiding fees in your bill, you may have legal options.

If you receive your monthly Verizon Wireless bill and you notice that something is wrong, it’s important that you figure out where the hidden fees came from, and whether they are accurate or not. We explain how to understand the hidden fees in your Verizon Wireless bill and what to do if you were incorrectly charged.

It is very important that you look over your Verizon Wireless bill every month so that you can verify when hidden fees manifest, and when you are being charged incorrectly.

Understanding your monthly bill

When you sign up for service with Verizon Wireless you get some combination of voice, text, and data and you agree to a monthly rate usually around $39 per month or $75 per month, but when you get your bill you might notice that the actual amount is significantly higher than what was advertised. So where do these hidden costs come from?

Overview of your bill

When you look at your Verizon Wireless bill it will show you on the left hand side your account plan which dictates what plan you have, what the monthly charges, what the allowances are, and any discounts you have. On the right hand side you start off with your breakdown of charges, breakdown of shared usage, payments including your previous balance and your balance forward, and then your account charges and credits.

Smartphone Line Access

For every line you have that is a smartphone you will be charged $20 per month. This has nothing to do with your data usage or the device payment plan. It is simply a fee for the luxury of using a smartphone.

This does not cover the one-time $20 upgrade fee that you face if you choose to upgrade your phone to a newer model, or the one-time $20 activation fee that you have to pay to turn your new phone on.

Device Payment Agreement

When you look at your bill it will show you things like the large lump sum payment that you have to pay if you decide to terminate early, basically the balance that you still owe on something like a new phone you are paying off as part of your contract. When you sign up for an average two-year contract with a new phone part of the cost in your monthly bill is a monthly payment or the overall cost of that phone. You might get a new iPhone at a discounted rate of only $200 but you have to pay for the full amount over the course of your two year contract. This amount will get lower as you continue to pay each month.

Usage and Purchase Charges

Under this section you will see information for the voice minutes you have used. Most plans today have unlimited voice but you’ll still see the amount that was used. This gives you a breakdown of what calls were made, where they came from, when they happen, and how long they happened. Depending on how much you use your phone this can be a particularly lengthy section of your bill.

This is also where you receive a breakdown of your messages and your data. If you signed up for any promotional deal that gives you unlimited data, unlimited voice, unlimited messaging, but only for a short amount of time, you might notice that subsequent bills have fees that were unexpected which coincided with the expiration date of that particular promotion.

This is also the area where you would see hidden fees like international calling, charitable donations are purchases that you made via text message, roaming fees, or other usage charges that you might not have anticipated. Even something as simple as calling 411 for information can result in a minor hidden fee.

What are the hidden fees in my Verizon Wireless bill?

There are other hidden fees that take the form of Verizon Wireless’ Surcharges. Verizon Wireless has its own surcharges that it puts into your bill. These are usually the most well-hidden of charges because they are not explained when you sign up or on any of the promotional advertisements.  In effect most of these are charges that Verizon gets and then Verizon disseminates those charges to its customers rather than having it eat away at company profits.

Fed Universal Service Charge

This is a program that helps subsidize phone and internet coverage for rural or low-income areas and telecom operators have to pay it and then are allowed to recoup that cost from their consumers which Verizon does.

Regulatory Charge

The FCC charges telephone operators an annual fee and the FCC does allow operators to recover those fees from their subscribers by adding it to the monthly bill. Verizon doesn’t have to, but they do so this is another hidden fee you might see on your Verizon Wireless bill.

Administrative Charge

Verizon describes this charge as something to help recuperate the costs Verizon Wireless has to pay for facility fees, the cost of doing business, property taxes, and other regulatory obligations.

Gross Receipts Surcharge

The state in which you live might charge commercial enterprises like Verizon Wireless a gross receipts tax on their revenue if their revenue exceeds a certain amount. Businesses are not required to pass this fee onto their consumers but Verizon does.

Local Business License Surcharge

Some Municipal areas charge a local business license tax or companies that have gross revenue above a certain threshold and for telecom companies that is 0.5% of their gross revenue earned only in that jurisdiction. Again this is a hidden see that Verizon is not required to pass on to its consumers, but chooses to pass on.

Taxes, Governmental Surcharges and Fees

Then there is the issue of taxes and other government surcharges.

State 911 fee

The first is a state 911 fee. States impose a charge on every phone whether it’s landline or wireless phone to contribute to 911 services. The amount will vary based on where you live.

Communication sales tax

You might be subject to a Communications sales tax for your wireless phone or landline. This is based on the state in which you live. You might also have to pay a state tax and a municipal tax, like a 5% state tax and an additional 1% local tax which gets combined on your Verizon bill in the form of 1 fee.

Am I able to refute the charge from Verizon wireless?

If you get your Verizon Wireless bill and you see things on there which are incorrect, fees you shouldn’t have been charged, you can file a claim with Verizon Wireless through regular customer service channels. This gives Verizon Wireless an opportunity to try and fix the problem. There are plenty of situations where you might have been charged something incorrectly because a promotion wasn’t honored or credit that should have appeared on your account and been put toward something never made it there.

What can I do if I was incorrectly charged a fee?

If you were incorrectly charged a fee, and you tried to use Verizon Wireless customer service to fix it but they weren’t able to help, you still have two legal options:

  1. You can go through small claims court if your case qualifies and only if you have the time.
  2. You can choose an easier and often faster method: consumer arbitration. With consumer arbitration you have more flexibility, can usually get a faster resolution, and what’s more, we can help.

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