HIKIND RESPONDS: Verizon Wireless ‘Fixes’ Service But Will Remedy Endanger Your Life?

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After exposing how telco giant Verizon Wireless was scamming U.S. travelers to Israel with its TravelPass service, Assemblyman Dov Hikind (D-Brooklyn) was told by Verizon that it had “fixed the problem.” But Hikind says the “fix” has only made things worse, at best, and that Verizon’s TravelPass still leaves customers vulnerable to being cheated and possibly endangered.

The Verizon Wireless TravelPass plan promises big savings to customers who travel abroad with a flat rate of only $10 per day. But Hikind and other New Yorkers who used the plan were charged exorbitant fees when visiting Israel because the telco’s service was interrupted by neighboring Jordan and Saudi Arabia signals. Adding insult to injury, Verizon customer service threatened to put customers into collection who had called to complain of the over-charges.

After Hikind exposed this issue, he was contacted by Verizon’s inter-governmental affairs liaison who said the company was aware of the issue and had remedied the problem in February. A reporter from The Hamodia following up on Hikind’s report was told by David Weissmann, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless, that in March, Verizon Wireless enhanced its TravelPass feature to ensure that customers do not face surprise bills for roaming data. He said that when a customer’s phone hits a tower in a non-TravelPass country (e.g., Jordan), “the data traffic gets redirected to a ‘captive portal’ – basically, it is a web page that shows you the rates you will be charged in the new country, at which point you have the opportunity to accept or decline.”

“This ‘fix’ begs new questions,” said Hikind. “What if you’re a passenger on a bus or in a car that gets too close to Jordan or Saudi Arabia or Gaza—you’re in the middle of a conversation and don’t see that warning? Or your phone was not on at the time? Suddenly, G-d forbid, you find yourself in an emergency situation, which can happen to anyone, and is more likely in Israel than in the U.S. Suddenly, you find yourself on the road without phone service. That’s dangerous. And it’s not something Verizon warns you about when you ask about their TravelPass.”

Hikind’s office carefully examined the Verizon Wireless website and made calls to Verizon Wireless customer service to see if the “fix” was documented. The Verizon website does not make it apparent that expensive roaming charges are a possibility when travelling within Israel. More, calls to customer service—which Hikind’s office recorded—made it clear that customers are in no way warned of the possibility of excessive charges when seeking to sign up for the TravelPass service.

“It’s a big rip off,” said Hikind. “Verizon Wireless can no longer claim they don’t know about the issue or that they’ve resolved it in a satisfactory way. They are being misleading, dishonest and unfair, and New Yorkers traveling to Israel and other places where there’s a possibility of dangerous loss of service or excessive charges should be aware of this issue.”

A recording of Hikind’s staff speaking with Verizon Customer Service about TravelPass, which was recorded today, can be found here:

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)

1 COMMENT

  1. What is he talking about? The problem applies only to data, not phone. Use a normal phone connection for phone, not some app, and you’ll be fine.