Verizon Wireless Mystery Data Usage: Straight Up Scam?

I’ve been a Verizon Wireless customer since 2010. Until about 30 days ago I would have called said “loyal customer.” I’ve been very happy with my service. Coverage is great. Billing was fair. No problems, no complaints.

I’ve been on a 3GB per month plan for about a year. Had an old iPhone 5 that I was happy with. And then on 3/26 I got a notice that I had used 90% of my data allowance for the month. First time I ever saw that notice. Surprised, as I didn’t think I’d done anything out of the norm. But my plan resent on 3/27 so I didn’t worry about it.

A few days later, on 3/29, I got exactly the same alert. Which seemed odd, as I was only a few days into my cycle. I checked my online account and sure enough Verizon was claiming I’d used nearly 3GBs in less than a week. That seemed CRAZY. I’ve never used that much in a MONTH. My habits hadn’t changed a bit. The only variation was I’d upgraded the phone’s iOS on 3/28. Could that be the culprit?

On 4/1 came the next alert. This time it claimed I was over. I called Verizon. I explained the two alerts on either side of my reset date, the extreme ramp up in reported usage and my confusion. I thought there was a flaw in their reporting. But the rep I spent about an hour on the phone with assured me Verizon’s reporting was correct. My iOS update had used up 1.8GBs alone and my usage had been skyrocketing since. I stressed that I was on Wi-Fi when I did the update and therefore should not have used up cell data. She claimed that my old phone must be damaged somehow. It was dropping wifi connections and therefore using cellular data when it shouldn’t. She recommended I buy a new phone and she increased my plan for the month to 6GB.

So on 4/3 I went to a Verizon store and bought an iPhone 6. I signed a two year contract. Why wouldn’t I? I’m happy with Verizon. I left confident that, with a new, working phone, I’d be back to my 3GBs a month standard usage. A bit of a frustrating week but resolved in the end.

On 4/7 I got a another Data Usage Overage alert. All 6GBs gone. That’s 2+GB in 4 days. Needless to say, I called Verizon again.

The first customer support rep I spoke to was the opposite of helpful. He seriously tried to claim this 300% increase in usage was me checking Facebook too often. I tried — repeatedly — to explain my usage history, the first indication of this problem, the new phone I’d purchased to solve it and the *fact that the data utilization log they have on their website indicates that I’ve only used 4GB.* He refused to consider that there could be an error, refused my request to be transferred to a supervisor and eventually I gave up and hung up.

I called back. I got a new rep. I told her my sad story. She said immediately that she knew the source of my problem and directed me to check Wi-Fi Assist. Sure enough, it was on. She said it was mostly likely turned on when I upgraded the iOS on 3/28. Said it was the cause of ALL of my problems. Assured me that as long as I turned off Wi-Fi assist, that I would see no more data spikes. She bumped my plan up to 12GB for the month (since my usage was already over 6GB according to her records) and said there was no way I’d even come near that limit.

Weirdly the usage log Verizon displayed on their website still showed me at under 4GB. But the rep told me it would take a few days to update.

At this point, I was frustrated but mollified. Sure, it would have been nice if the first two reps or the guy in the store had told me about this Wi-Fi Assist issue. Sure, it would have been nice not to purchase a new phone I didn’t actually need and sign a two year contract as a solution to an incorrectly diagnosed problem. But I’m mostly just happy to have this resolved. I’m confident my data spiking is behind me. I’ll pay the premium this month and go back to my normal 3GB plan next month. All’s well that ends well.

Today, 4/16, I got another Data Usage alert. This claims I have used over 10GB this month. 4GB in the past 10 days.

I checked my phone’s cellular data. It says I’ve used only 433 MBs since 4/8.

I checked Verizon’s data utilization tool. Last night (4/15) it said I was under 7GB. Today (4/16) it says I am over 10GB. Wi-fi Assist is off. When I download the actual data logs from Verizon — the ones the last rep told me take a few days to update — they STILL add up to less than 4GB.

Based on the past month of experiences, I have zero confidence that going into a store or calling the customer service number will connect me with someone who can correctly identify and resolve this problem. I’m at my wit’s end.

So this is my last attempt. I’m writing this and Tweeting it at Verizon. That will be my 4th contact with customer service in a calendar month for the same problem. That’s more than enough chances. If Verizon can’t get to the bottom of this and get to real resolution, it’s time to switch carriers.

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