Verizon defends $2 fee

Verizon Wireless, the largest U.S. mobile carrier, defended its $2 “convenience fee” after customers criticized the charge aimed at users who make single bill cellphone payments on a month-to-month basis online or by phone.

Verizon Wireless is adding the fee to address costs it incurs for processing such payments, according to an e-mailed statement from the company. The charge doesn’t apply to customers who enroll in automatic payment plans, use electronic checks, pay at a Verizon Wireless store, send in checks or pay through their online banking website.

Customers began criticizing Verizon Wireless on Twitter and online-discussion forums Thursday after the company disclosed the fee, with some setting up online petitions and calling for consumers to boycott the carrier. Verizon Wireless isn’t considering canceling the charge because it’s just one of many ways to pay your bill, including others that are month-to-month options, said Brenda Raney, a spokeswoman.

“Customers have a number of alternatives to pay their bill and not incur the convenience fee,” Raney said. “Paying the fee is an option, not an absolute.”

Last month, a consumer backlash led to Bank of America Corp. canceling a $5-per-month fee for debit card users.

Verizon Wireless is driving up profitability at parent Verizon Communications Inc. as it gains users for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and Google Inc. Android devices, which let users browse the Web, watch video and stream music. Third-quarter net income at New York-based Verizon Communications, which co-owns the wireless business with Vodafone Group Plc, doubled to $1.38 billion from $659 million a year earlier.