SEATTLE (CN) - Verizon Wireless designed its cell phones to make errors inevitable and makes hundreds of millions dollars a month from a prominently placed data-transfer key that facilitates the mistakes, a class action claims in King County Court. Customers are charged $1.99 when they hit the data transfer key even if they cancel the request immediately and even if no data is transmitted, the complaint states.
Lead plaintiff Carolyn Alcorn says she learned about the "intentionally deceptive practices" from a Nov. 12 New York Times article that quoted a Verizon whistleblower saying, "The phone is designed in such a way that you can almost never avoid getting $1.99 charged on the bill."
The whistleblower claimed that "Every month, the 87 million customers will accidentally hit that key a few times a month. That's over $300 million a month in data revenue off a simple mistake," according to the complaint.
Alcorn says she investigated her own bill after reading the Times story, "and learned that she had become a victim of those practices."
Citing the Times article, the complaint adds: "They [Verizon] have started training us reps that too many data blocks are being put on accounts now; they're actually making us take classes called Alternatives to Data Blocks. They do not want all the blocks, because 40 percent of Verizon's revenue now comes from data use. I just know there are millions of people out there that don't even notice this $1.99 on the bill."
Alcorn seeks disgorgement, an injunction, and class damages for violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act.
She is represented by John Du Wors with Newman & Newman.