Outcry leads Verizon Wireless to drop $2 bill payment fee plan

LOS ANGELES — Verizon Wireless, under fire from consumers and federal regulators, scrapped plans to charge a $2 "convenience fee" for some customers.

The $2 fee was supposed to go into effect on Jan. 15 and be charged to customers each time they paid their bills with a credit or debit card — unless that customer was enrolled in automatic bill-paying options that can charge credit and debit cards or withdraw money directly from bank accounts on a recurring basis.

The $2 fee immediately drew the ire of consumers, and on Friday the Federal Communications Commission said it would look into whether the charge was necessary.

"On behalf of American consumers, we're concerned about Verizon's actions and are looking into the matter," the FCC said in a statement Friday.

Since the fee was announced Thursday, customers of the nation's largest wireless carrier have complained about the charge on Twitter, in Facebook groups and pages and on Google+.

Molly Katchpole, a Washington activist and Verizon subscriber, started a petition at the online activism site Change.org calling for Verizon to scrap the $2 fee.

The Change.org petition, launched late Thursday, is a tactic Katchpole used earlier this year when Bank of America attempted to institute a $5 fee for those who use its debit cards for purchases.

The Bank of America fee prompted a national outcry, and eventually the bank abandoned the fee before it went into effect.

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