Well, nothing really … other than that they have all made some questionable business decisions recently.
First it was Netflix and their decision to increase their prices for its DVD and streaming video services. The change, which bumped the price of the streaming and DVD plan by 60%, was met with a social media backlash, resulting in Netflix cutting its customer forecast by 1 million, losing over 800 thousand customers and nearly 50% of its value since it made the price announcement in July of this year.
Shortly thereafter, Bank of America announced its decision to start charging customers $5 to use their debit card, but then quickly abandoned that idea just a month after announcing it. Their change of heart was surely impacted by the huge backlash they received from customers and the Moveon.org campaign that collected well over 200K signatures. The “Occupy Wall Street” movement didn’t help either.
And just yesterday, Verizon Wireless announced that they will start charging their customers $2 to pay their bills online starting on January 15th. Ironically, they are calling it a convenience fee even though there’s nothing convenient at all about having to pay a fee for paying bills online. In a statement on their corporate web site, Verizon explains that “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).” They also titled the release “Customers Encouraged to Use Options to Avoid Single Payment Fee That Starts Jan. 15″ which I am sure is pissing off customers because it’s just spin. Of course Verizon wants its customers to pay their bills online. A quick scan of Twitter shows that a groundswell of conversation is slowly brewing and it’s not looking good.
So the question remains. Will Verizon follow the same path as Bank of America and listen to the social customer? Or, will they walk down the path of Netflix and take a gamble?
Either way, we’ll be watching.
And just like that, Verizon decides against the $2 fee. Verizon CEO Dan Mead says “At Verizon, we take great care to listen to our customers. Based on their input, we believe the best path forward is to encourage customers to take advantage of the best and most efficient options, eliminating the need to institute the fee at this time.”