Complaint Tendered to BBB of NJ on 10.29.2005
Verizon Wireless Customarily Institutes Early Termination Fee and Puts Burden of Proof on Customer


I purchased a Samsung i730 online from Verizon and received/activated it on 8-8-2005. I called Verizon on 8-17-2005 and told them to deactivate the phone and that I was returning it within the FREE 15 day trial period. The phone was sent out from the FedEx office at 701 Poydras St (New Orleans LA 70139). Subsequently Hurricane Katrina forced my evacuation from New Orleans on Aug 29. I have not received any mail (due to lack of US Postal Service delivery) until the last week when I received a statement from Verizon which included a $175 early termination fee which was due to apparent nonreceipt of the equipment.

I called Verizon today and was told that I needed the FedEx tracking number for this package to eliminate the charge. Unfortunately this number is not available due to extensive water damage to my office at home. I called FedEx but they claim that they have no way of tracking the package withOUT the number; however, the representative I spoke to reported that many customers call in requesting tracking numbers for packages sent to Verizon.

Verizon Customer Service refuses to reverse the charge at this time, and I cannot produce proof of shipment due to Hurricane Katrina. I understand their position but this is a very unique situation. The last Customer Service rep (Beth x4474) that I spoke to even told me that a FedEx tracking number would not be sufficient. Only if the Verizon warehouse inventory showed the telephone in question would I have the charge reversed.

My hypothesis based on the above information is that apparently Verizon may institute this charge routinely realizing that many customers may lose their tracking numbers; if this is correct, some sort of class action may be possible. Unfortunately Verizon's tact has been successful in my case as Hurricane Katrina eliminated my records.

Please help me and let me know if you need further information. I am hoping that the special circumstances of my issue may warrant special intervention by the BBB. Thanks in advance.

[Note: If anyone has had a similar experience, please contact me at ambientmusic(at)]


On 11-7-2005 a Verizon representative called to say that she had received my BBB complaint and that she was attempting to track the telephone I returned via its serial number.  She called back on 11-8-2005 to say that the phone had been located and that I was going to be credited with the cost of the phone as well as the early termination fee.  When I asked her why it took a BBB complaint to achieve this result, she stated that apparently some of the frontline representatives need to be inserviced on this procedure.