Verizon Bill fires up local Vietnam veteran

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Monday, Dec. 12, 2016

AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - A 72-year old Vietnam veteran shoots his cell phone after receiving a more $3600 bill from Verizon. The one time charge was for data overage on his hot spot, which he says didn't even use.

It was the trip of a lifetime for a lifetime together. Robert and Frances Able celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by going to California for a month. "We left here September 24th and stayed the whole month of October," Robert Able said. He says he left his hotspot at home while he was away. He says Verizon called him around the third week in October. "It happened to be my wife birthday and got a phone call saying I had a $3600 something Verizon bill for overage. I told them this couldn't be, this can't be possible," Able said.

Verizon billed Able $3,357.96 in data overage. He says Verizon told him the overage happened through his hotspot which he says he left at home during his trip. His bill shows he used more than 234 gigabytes of data. His plan only included 12GB.

"They said it was through either streaming of videos surfing or gaming which I don't do," the 72-year old said. According to Netflix, you would have to stream movies nonstop for ten days to use that much data. For HD videos, you would have to stream 24 hours a day for three days to use 234GB of data.

Able asked his house sitter if he used the hotspot but his friend wasn't sure. Able wondered if someone hacked into his hotspot so he filed a report with the Sheriff's Office. Verizon says he is responsible for the bill either way.

"They wanted me to set up a payment plan $600 dollars a month until its paid off but $600 a month is like a house payment a car payment,"
Able said. The Vietnam veteran was so upset he used his gun to shoot his phone. "I have some issues with PTSD and anxiety and this doesn't help at all," he said.

Here is the statement Verizon sent On Your Side's Liz Owens:

"We take each customer complaint seriously, whether they reach out to us directly, we learn about it through the media, or it's forwarded to us by a government agency. And our customer care team won't quit until each issue is investigated and fairly resolved. It's worth noting that we haven't found any widespread issues, but we are always keeping an eye on the situation. We're redoubling our efforts to communicate tools available to customers, including the new My Verizon app, so customers can manage their wireless experience in the palm of their hand. In fact, we've recently posted a couple of blogs to help our customers understand their data use better. You can find links to those posts below. Feel free to attribute any of the information to me.

In terms of Mr. Able's issue, our customer care team reached out to him, and spent time walking through what we discovered, how we verified the data billing on his account, and ways he can manage his data usage going forward. While our investigation found the charges were valid, we appreciate Mr. Able's service to our country and his current situation, and felt working with him on an amicable resolution was the right thing to do."

Able says Verizon lowered his bill to $2475.59 after On Your Side's Liz Owens called the company.

Verizon says they sent Able more than a hundred text messages warning him about the overage. Able says he didn't understand the texts since he doesn't know how to text himself.

According to the Consumerist, Verizon customer complaints for overage charges soared in September. There were more complaints filed with the FCC about overage charges in September than all of January through August combined.