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MDLaw, Attorney
Category: Business Law
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Experience:  Experience in business law, contract law and related matters.
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Verizon Wireless Small Claims Case

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Do I have a case against Verizon Wireless in Small Claims?
Verizon Wireless - I just received a bill for $698.58 and about had a heart attack! I called customer service and the first agent told me that they took my monthly payment out on auto-pay and it was later returned for insufficient funds after having tried to take their payment three times. After having a chance to review my bank account I called back and told a second agent that my bank does not show any payments to Verizon in the month of August and my account never fell below a balance of $400.
The 2nd agent told me there was a note in the account that the payment was mistakenly applied to my account and was reversed when they notice the error. She admitted that this error caused my account to skip my auto-payment on the 21st as usual. I asked to speak to a supervisor because I believe I should be compensated for their error.
The "supervisor" informed me that it was not Verizon's mistake but that a customer accidentally paid on my account and asked me how I wanted to pay my past due amount.
This explanation is hard to believe because I have been a customer for over 4 years and never have I been able to pay or even view my account without having presented my account login, name, security code and/or last four and/or security question. And, IF it was possible for a customer to "accidentally" pay on another customer's account without so much as a name, how in the world did they coincidentally pay exactly the amount that was due on MY account? Someone had to have been physically IN my account to see that amount due before they paid it AND most people don't have 5 lines and pay that astronomical amount every month.
I have never been late on a payment since I signed up with Verizon, over 4 years ago.
These are the comments on my bill:
Electronic Payment / Authorization Received - 08/10/12 - $278.47
Payment Reversed 08/27/12 - $278.47
Also, after going back through my emails to see if they tried to contact me, I had received an email on 8/10 notifying me of my payment (I didn't think twice about the early date):
"Here are the details of your electronic check payment:
Date: 08/10
Payment Amount: $278.47
Payment Method: Electronic check; bank account ending in XXXX"
I did NOT receive notification about the reversal of payment and/or that I needed to pay my bill because their system wouldn't automatically take it out of my account that month.
I believe Verizon should pay for this mistake, not me. Yes, it was my phone bill but I can't afford to pay two bills in one month and I have been grossly inconvenience and embarrassed. Now I have to figure out how to pay a double phone bill out of one month's budget and I'm a single parent with ONE income!
Hello and thank you for using Just Answer. I hope that I can be of assistance to you this evening.

I have read your post and I want to be sure I understand the facts first since I need to know the facts before attempting to answer your question.

If I am understanding correctly, Verizon failed to automatically withdraw your payment for one month and as a result you now owe two months. Is this correct?
If this is correct, then am I to understand then that the money was left in your bank account?

You are asking if you can sue them. May I ask what it is that you want to sue them for? In other words, what are you alleging that they did that was illegal or a violation of you agreement with them? What financial damages have you suffered?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

Yes, that is what happened. They failed to take the payment last month and it wasn't until I received this month's bill did I know this happened. They failed to inform me of the activity on my account, they failed to inform me that I needed to make the payment last month and they failed to take responsibility for the error. Not only are they now showing that my account is past due, which I have never been before, but I have to figure out how to come up with $700 in one month to pay the two bills and still be able to feed my children now. They have inconvenienced me and my family and now will show I have made a late payment on my account through no fault of my own.

So that I understand, are you asking if they violated some law by failing to inform you of the activity on your account?

Is there some reason attributable to Verizon that you did not realize that they had not taken their money out from your account? In other words, did your bank show that that it had been deducted or in other words, what was the reason that you did not notice?

Also, I don't believe that you answered what your financial damages are. (In order to sue someone, you need to show some type of financial damage)
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

I'm asking if I can sue Verizon in Small Claims for damages, financial (for amount of bill and late charge), punitive damages and Emotional Distress?

I didn't notice because I don't "watch" my account. My budget is such that because I use auto-payment, it is standard each month, with a small cushion for expenses such as your payment. I can "attribute" this to Verizon because they didn't report to me the activity on my account OR the fact that they would not be taking out my auto-pay. The first time I learned of their error was when my next bill showed my past-due amount.

QUESTION:I'm asking if I can sue Verizon in Small Claims for damages, financial (for amount of bill and late charge), punitive damages and Emotional Distress?

ANSWER: Yes, you can sue them in small claims court. You can sue them for the amount of the bill and late charges. However, since you admit to owing that amount, you would most likely still have to pay that amount even if you won. Now, with respect to the late charge, you can probably get Verizon to remove that from your bill without going to court.

The law does not, however, allow you to recover punitive damages or emotional distress. Emotional distress in court cases is when, for example, something happens to damage a person to the point where they have to seek therapy, for example. In contract cases, emotional distress damages are not recoverable. What a plaintiff can recover is the amount of monetary damage that they suffered to the plaintiff's actions.

Please let me know if you have any follow-up questions.

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