After customer outrage at Bank of America's $5 fee forced the policy withdrawal, you'd think organizations would take notice and avoid implementing nickel-and-dime fees for customer convenience. Verizon has not yet caught up to the learning curve.
Update 12-30-11 2:43 PM: Faced with consumer backlash,Verizon has rescinded the proposed fee.
Yesterday, Engadget reported and confirmed a leaked memo from Verizon that as of January 15, the company will be charging customers a $2 convenience fee to pay via IVR and online. Customers paying their bills using AutoPay or electronic check will not be charged the fee.
It's difficult to sympathize with the wireless giant, which claims to be trying to reclaim the cost of providing IVR and online support with the fee, especially in the wake of the recent decision by Bank of America to retract its wildly unpopular proposed $5 monthly debit card fee. Did Verizon learn nothing from Bank of America's woes? Did they not see customers flocking to credit unions, even after the proposed fee was lifted?
We live in an age in which consumers are empowered not only to switch brand loyalties but also to communicate those shifts loudly and publicly. No longer are consumers forced to sit and helplessly accept a ridiculous fee; now they can communicate transparently about it, even when the organization doesn't. Engadget comments:
Tactical differences aside, the leaked memo shown above details what has to be one of the most consumer-unfriendly policy changes since the carrier boosted its early termination fee for "advanced devices."
If Mashable's Topsy curated list is any indication, the consumer backlash to the unjustified fee will be mighty.
And it might have been wise to wait until the "most reliable" network was not experiencing its third 4G outage in a single month, leading users to wonder if the company is going to nickel and dime them on fees, would they also be providing refunds for their inability to deliver the purchased 4G coverage in December?
Fee justifications aside, the timing of the announcement was not optimal. Announcing petty fee hikes when in the midst of network outages is a perfect formula for customer backlash.
However, since the @VZWSupport handle is rather klunky and has only 25,000 followers versus @VerizonWireless' 677,000 followers, it might have been a good idea to either empower the @VerizonWireless team to respond or at least use CoTweet or the like to pass on complaints to @ZVWSupport.
One lesson here is that the channel the organization prefers to use might not be the one the public prefers to use for response. Anticipate consumer response and cover your bases!