A proposed class action alleges Verizon Wireless fraudulently solicits the sale of ancillary goods and services by encouraging consumers to enroll in paperless billing and automatic payments while failing to send “promised” confirmations detailing what was purchased and for how much.
More specifically, the 30-page lawsuit alleges Verizon “crams customers’ bills with surreptitious charges” and conceals such with paperless billing, automatic payments and its “deliberate failure” to send both sales confirmations that detail a cancellation process and notices that indicate a customer’s new monthly bill total.
As a result of the defendant’s “ongoing systematic practice,” consumers are unknowingly paying for certain goods and services because Verizon never effected a legal “sale,” the complaint claims.
According to the complaint, Verizon has for years effectuated this practice as a matter of company policy against “many hundreds, if not many thousands,” of consumers nationwide given its status as the leading cell phone services provider and use of identical sales processes and language.
As the lawsuit tells it, one of the cell phones linked to the plaintiff’s Verizon account was accidentally damaged in late 2019, after which the man commenced an insurance claim through the defendant’s partner, Asurion. During the claim process, the suit says, the plaintiff was solicited by telephone by Asurion, who hoped the man would buy a monthly “Smart Home Support” protection plan to cover certain damage to household equipment that used wireless service.
Though Asurion stated the plaintiff would receive an email with details of the “Smart Home Support” plan and could cancel the service should he so choose, the company never sent the man the promised email, the lawsuit says. Per the case, the plaintiff then realized the contract for the purchase “had not been consummated and did not pursue any effort to purchase it.”
Unbeknownst to the plaintiff, however, Verizon allowed Asurion to add a monthly fee to the man’s bill, the lawsuit claims. According to the case, Verizon did this despite having never sent the plaintiff a notification detailing his “Next Bill Summary,” for which the new charge for the “Smart Home Support” plan should have been listed.
The case goes on to argue that by encouraging all subscribers to enroll in paperless billing and automatic monthly bill payments while failing to send billing summary notices, Verizon has succeeded in having the cost for “Smart Home Support” paid without any affirmative act by a consumer. The plaintiff claims he only became aware of the additional monthly charge after he went into a Verizon store to buy a new phone in November 2020 and was handed a paper receipt detailing his monthly bill. Despite taking the issue up with Verizon, the plaintiff found the company was of little help, the suit says.
“Consumer called Verizon and discovered what the charge was, detailed the fraudulent solicitation process, and demanded a refund. Verizon only provided a minimal refund and blamed the Consumer for not having read his monthly paperless bills,” the complaint reads.
Initially filed in Somerset County Superior Court on November 30, the lawsuit was removed to New Jersey federal court on December 29, 2020.
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