Verizon To Reinburse Millions For Improperly Charging Custom

US mobile phone company Verizon Wireless has announced that it will pay out up to $50 million (£31m) in refunds to customers who were improperly charged for internet access or data usage over several years.

Most users will receive refunds of $2 to $6, although some customers will get larger amounts, the company said in a statement.

The Federal Communications Commission had asked Verizon Wireless last year about $1.99-a-megabyte data access fees that appeared on the bills of customers who didn't have data plans but who accidentally initiated data or internet access by pressing a button on their phones.

"Verizon Wireless values our customer relationships and we always want to do the right thing for our customers," said Mary Coyne, deputy general counsel for Verizon Wireless.

"The majority of the data sessions involved minor data exchanges caused by software built into their phones; others involved accessing the Web, which should not have incurred charges. We have addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future."

The FCC confirmed that it had been investigating the charges after complaints from consumers. It said Verizon itself has reportedly put the amount of overcharges at more than $50 million.

"We're gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison said in a statement.

"But questions remain as to why it took Verizon two years to reimburse its customers and why greater disclosure and other corrective actions did not come much, much sooner."

The FCC will continue to look into those issues, including the possibility of additional penalties, Ms Ellison said.

Verizon Wireless is the largest cell phone carrier in the US and is part-owned by Vodafone.

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