Written by: Damian Roache
Verizon Wireless acted swiftly on Friday to pacify its customers by dropping new plans to start charging users a fee for online payments. The proposed fee was set to debut on January 15, but the clamoring of thousands of Verizon subscribers caused the company to change its tone.
The new fee would have charged users $2 for every time a purchase was made over the phone or online using credit or debit cards.
The outcry against Verizon took many forms, but the most overwhelming response happened online where people began denouncing the company and threatening to drop their services. Many people claimed the fee was unfair because it would force them to pay for everyday services that are currently free, such as paying bills online.
Some were not content to complain and hope that Verizon would take notice, instead actively working to defeat the fee.
Change.org, a site hosting online petitions, had received over 90,000 signatures by Friday on a petition telling Verizon to stop its new fee.
Dan Mead, president of Verizon Wireless, explained Verizon’s decision and made more than one reference to the influence of public opinion.
“At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time,” said Mead.
Based on Mead’s words, it is clear that Verizon took notice of the negative reaction by its customers. His tone falls just short of apologetic and seems designed to assure customers that, for the moment at least, Verizon will back off from their wallets. Verizon customers have won this battle without any real struggle from Verizon.
This is the latest example of consumers using their collective voice to create a resistance to new business models and pricing changes from large brands. Plans by Netflix to split their services and introduce new prices were widely criticized by customers. Netflix eventually reversed their decision, but the damage had already been done: thousands of Netflix users cancelled their subscriptions.
While it is impossible to state how much Netflix’s pricing fiasco impacted Verizon’s decision-making process, there are obvious similarities between both situations.
Now that two big names like Verizon and Netflix have conceded to the wishes of consumers it seems inevitable that the trend will continue. Losing customers is something that all businesses try to avoid, and consumers are beginning to use the threat of abandonment to garner more respect. The success of Verizon customers is beneficial to consumers of the future, because it shows the potential power that people can gather and use to their advantage.
The next time Verizon wants to add another fee or charge its customers more, they should expect a comparable amount of resistance.
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