Last week, I wrote about the Netflix decision to split its streaming and DVD-by-mail services and how they lost thousands of subscribers. Well, December 29, 2011, Verizon decided to start charging customers a $2 convenience fee for making payments online or over the phone. Traditional checks and automatic payments would not receive a fee. Being a Verizon customer myself for over a decade now, I was not pleased that I would now have to pay a fee to pay my bill through their website.

The fee was to go into effect January 15, however by December 30, 2011, just one day after the announcement, Verizon announced that they would not in fact charge this fee due to negative customer feedback.

Verizon was wise to make such a quick decision to rescind the fee decision. Had they waited weeks or months, they most likely would have seen a large number of customers change service providers and would have received an influx of complaints not unlike mine. Why should I have to pay for paying to use your services?

Similar to the Netflix situation in which they needed to find a way to compensate for the expenses of shipping DVDs versus streaming services, Verizon was trying to find a way to compensate for the expenses incurred from one-time payments. But yet again, this is an example of a company telling the consumer how they will be benefiting the company, not how the company will be benefiting the customer.

If you have ever worked in retail, food service or any position in which you are working with customers, you will know that their main concern is not whether or not they are making more work for you. If they purchased a product or service from you that was unsatisfactory to their standards, they want you to fix it and they usually don’t care what that requires. And they shouldn’t. Their purpose is to keep you in business so your purpose is to keep them happy.

In the announcement in the Verizon News Center ( they state:”The fee will help allow us to continue to support these single bill payment options in these channels and is designed to address costs incurred by us for only those customers who choose to make single bill payments in alternate payment channels (online, mobile, telephone).” This statement tells customers how they will be helping Verizon, but doesn’t offer anything to help the customers.

So how could Verizon have better handled the situation? Well, the goal was to encourage customers to sign up for automatic payments. Rather than punish customers for doing something they have always been doing (paying online/over the phone) why not create an incentive so the customers will do what Verizon wants? Encourage the customer think it was their idea to do what the company wanted them to do in the first place.

What examples of big business decisions have you encountered?  If you have been part of an unpopular business decision, how did you and your company handle it?

Verizon says it's scrapping $2 payment fee