On behalf of American consumers, we’re concerned about Verizon’s actions and are looking into the matter.The FCC, in a statement saying they’ll look into Verizon’s controversial new $2 bill-pay convenience fee. 2011 has not been a good year for nickel-and-dimers — between Bank of America and Ticketmaster, “convenience charges” are starting to look like something consumers will not stand for, and will complain about loudly on the internet. On a side note, Change.org has had a bit of a banner year.
» Nickel and diming, redux: To be clear, this fee wouldn’t be instituted in every case — people using automatic bill-pay wouldn’t be subject to it, nor would people paying by electronic check (at least according to the initial source of this news, a leaked memo obtained by Engadget). That said, if you’re looking to make a one-off payment, or aren’t scheduled for automatic payments, you can expect a tidy little $2 charge starting January 15th. What reaction consumers will have is yet unclear; it has, however, been a bad year for companies trying to slip extra fees onto customers.
If you can’t beat ‘em, buy ‘em: That would seem to be the principle behind an effort by Verizon to purchase the DVD-shipping and movie streaming giant, though it bears noting that this is reported as little more than rumor at present. It would, however, be fitting with Verizon’s general posture of late; they’ve been open about their desire to enter the streaming movie business, with their CEO last week admitting they’d looked into purchasing Hulu. This would be an advantageous time for somebody to acquire Netflix, as their stock has plummeted in recent months following announced price increases, and the utterly disastrous Qwikster plan; conversely, though, these rumors have sent their stock upwards by 6%. source
» AT&T’s contributions = Rick Perry’s support? Back in May, Rick Perry told the FCC he backed the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. “I believe that this merger will continue to provide for great consumer choice, offer a wide range of service options, and spur continued innovation,” he wrote. He might’ve had a little help from those campaign contributions over the past decade. AT&T has a bit of a history of going out of its way to turn public favor its way, going so far as to bizarrely convince GLAAD to support the merger. With the Justice Department coming out against the merger and AT&T’s contributions to Perry coming under scrutiny, will Perry back down? (Strangely enough, BTW, the Justice Department’s James Cole made a statement that reads like the polar opposite of what Perry wrote: “We believe the combination of AT&T and T-Mobile would result in tens of millions of consumers all across the United States facing higher prices, fewer choices, and lower-quality products for their mobile wireless services.” Hrm.)