Verizon Wireless, the biggest US cellco, will return up to $90 million (€65.7 million) in mobile data fees wrongly charged to customers.
It said it will issue refunds of $2 to $6 to 15 million customers for “mistaken past data charges,” after a series of critical stories by US media and a probe by the FCC.
The massive refund – possibly the biggest ever by a telecoms company – could also be accompanied by a FCC fine for failing to notify customers of the problem, which has been occurring since at least 2007, the New York Times reported.
In the last three years, the FCC had received “hundreds of complaints” from Verizon Wireless customers for web access charges when their phones were not in use or when they mistakenly hit a phone key that activated the browser, the Times said.
The Times said it and other media had reported that customers had complained about the charges but had been ignored by the carrier.
Verizon reportedly told the regulator last December that it did not charge customers who had inadvertently started their phone’s web browser.
In a statement issued Sunday, the carrier said it had “discovered that over the past several years approximately 15 million customers who did not have data plans were billed for data sessions on their phones that they did not initiate.”
It said most of the data sessions “involved minor data exchanges caused by software built into their phones; others included accessing certain web links, which should not have incurred charges. We have addressed these issues to avoid unintended data charges in the future.”