Verizon Accused of Charging Bogus Text Fees

     NEWARK, N.J. (CN) – Verizon improperly applies texting fees to customers who use mobile broadband devices, which can’t send or receive text messages because they “have no screens or keys,” a class claims in Federal Court.

     Lead plaintiff Brokers’ Service Marketing Group claims the Delaware-based Verizon charged its usual rate of 20 cents per text for messages that the marketing group’s mobile broadband device allegedly sent or received.
     “In order to utilize Verizon’s mobile broadband services, a consumer must purchase and use a device that establishes a connection between the consumer’s computer (usually a laptop or netbook) and Verizon’s wireless network,” according to the complaint.
     “These devices have no screens or keys, and therefore no ability to view text messages, and no ability to formulate and/or send text messages,” the lawsuit adds. “Nevertheless Verizon improperly charges its mobile broadband users for text messages.”
     The class claims it pays a monthly fee for using a data plan that connects to a mobile broadband device, such as USB modems, data cards, PC cards or MiFi devices.
     Mobile broadband devices have unique 10-digit numbers like a cell phone, but do not have screens or keys, which are necessary to send or view text messages, according to the lawsuit.
“Plaintiff did not send text messages through its mobile broadband device, did not invite anyone to send text messages to it at the number assigned to its mobile broadband device, and was unaware such devices could send or receive text messages,” the class claims.
     Cellco Partnership dba Verizon Wireless has violated the Federal Communications Act and the New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act and breached its contract with customers, the class claims.
     Its members seek declaratory judgment, an injunction, and compensatory and punitive damages. They are represented by William Pinilis with Kaplan Fox & Kilsheimer of Morristown, N.J.

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