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FCC calls Verizon on early-termination fees and other charges

December 4, 2009 |  4:02 pm
FCC pays Verizon a Call
Credit: Alex Pham / Los Angeles Times.

Hello, Verizon? The U.S. Federal Communications Communication is on the line, and it's asking some tough questions.

The FCC today asked Verizon to explain the company's recent decision to double the penalty it charges subscribers who have smart phones for canceling their service before their contract ends -- from $175 to $350.

The early-termination fee is one of several industrywide practices under scrutiny by the FCC, which regulates telecommunications companies.

In a letter to Verizon's Chief Counsel Steve Zipperstein, regulators also questioned the company's practice of charging customers $1.99 for accidentally pushing a button on their cellphone programmed to dial up Verizon's Mobile Web service.

Citing a New York Times story, Ruth Milkman, chief of the FCC's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, wrote, "Is it correct that customers are charged for minimal, accidental usage by customers using these phones?" You could almost hear the incredulity.

Cellphone companies are already low on the popularity scale with consumer, according to a survey released this week by Consumer Reports. Only 54% of people surveyed said they were completely or very satisfied with their cellphone service.

Verizon has until the end of the day Dec. 17 to return the FCC's call.  

-- Alex Pham

Follow my random thoughts on games, gear and technology on Twitter @AlexPham.

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