Verizon Hands Consumers Back $50 million in bad charges or Why government oversight of private enterprise is necessary

I'm always amused to see the right wingers shout about how the market rules and how the invisible hand will solve all problems. Actually in place of government regulation what you will see are cartels and mafia structures. And there will be no one to intervene on your behalf. You'll take your medicine and say thank you.

A perfect example are the mobile telephone providers whether T-Com, Orange or in the case to follow, Verizon. The only reason they don't just take whatever money they want from you all the time is fear of the regulator. For three years, Verizon hammered any customer who accidentally clicked on a data button on his/her phone $1.99 for initiating data use.

sony ericsson data button
sony ericsson single touch data button

I don't know if you've owned a recent Sony-Ericsson telephones but for years it's been almost impossible to avoid starting a data connection at least 10 times/month. Just by clicking the wrong key once you were toasted.

It turns out that Verizon has stopped doing this. Not only that, Verizon is now handing the $50 million in dubious booty back to consumers. They are repaying consumers only thanks to consumer complaints to the FCC, one of those wasteful government organs:

"We're gratified to see Verizon agree to finally repay its customers," FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief Michele Ellison said in a statement. "But questions remain as to why it took Verizon two years to reimburse its customers and why greater disclosure and other corrective actions did not come much, much sooner."

Next time a tea party starts somewhere near you, tell them this story. Without civil oversight, private enterprise is not an invisible helping hand, but the ripper's glove on your throat.

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