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'Feedback' prompts Verizon to scrap fee; Will not charge $2 for some payments

NEW YORK -- After a customer backlash and scrutiny from the Federal Communications Commission, Verizon Wireless on Friday dropped a plan to start charging $2 for every payment subscribers make over the phone or online with their credit or debit cards.

In a statement on its website Friday, the company said "customer feedback" prompted the decision to drop the "convenience fee" it wanted to introduce on Jan. 15.

The FCC on Friday said it was "concerned" about the plan and that it would investigate.

"The best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time," Dan Mead, chief executive officer of Verizon Wireless, said in the company's statement.

Verizon wanted to steer people to electronic check payments, which are cheaper, and automatic credit card payments, which are more reliable.

A petition on Change.org against the fees had gathered more than 95,000 names by Friday afternoon, a day after Verizon, the country's largest cellphone company, announced the fees. The petition was set up by Molly Katchpole, who earlier this year started a successful campaign to make Bank of America drop a $5-per-month fee for debit-card use.

Payment processors for power companies usually charge "convenience fees" of up to $5 for every payment made by phone or online, but cellphone companies haven't taken the step yet. The Verizon furor hints that they may have to wait further.

Verizon Wireless is driving up profit at parent Verizon Communications as it gains users for Apple Inc.'s iPhone and Google Inc. Android devices. Third-quarter net income at New York-based Verizon Communications doubled to $1.38 billion from $659 million a year earlier.

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