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socrateaser, Lawyer
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Retired (mostly)
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I received a $3850.00 bill from Verizon after a trip to mexico

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I received a $3850.00 bill from Verizon after a trip to mexico (Jan. 15-22). for use of their VZ-access to WI-FI (Global Roaming Charges). I did not enable my notebook computer to access Verizon WI-Fi prior to leaving for Mexico. Enabling a device to use wireless in foreign countries is required by Verizon. Am I responsible for this exorbitant bill? I purchased the resort WI-Fi service after I was unable to find any free WI-Fi access.

In order to prove that you are obligated for the debt, Verizon must prove that you agreed to access its WiFi services, and you must prove that you did not.

The fact that you were in Mexico is an issue that I always add to the list of possible defenses, because Mexico is a corrupt environment, both governmentally and in private business dealings, so it wouldn't surpise me if Verizon Mexico were to have figured out that you had a notebook inside Mexico, and then simply generated a bill, even though you did not access the system.

Regardless, this is what is likely to happen: Verizon will not sue you. It will simply terminate your services, and then sell your account to collections. Then the collection agency will sue you to collect. I think that a collection agency will have a very difficult time proving that you agreed to the services billed, because it won't be able to bring any technology experts to trial to testify to how it knows your computer was linked to the Verizon network.

The collection agency could simply ding your credit record and then wait and see if you want to settle the matter in order to fix your credit. So, that's another option.

Unfortunately, you don't have a lot of leverage -- Verizon is not likely to listen to anything you have to say. So, you may just have to stand your ground and wait to see how things unfold.

Hope this helps.

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Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Looks like a grim picture. Would filing a small claims in my local town, create any leverage.?
You could sue for misrepresentation, on the theory that the bill is a total fraud (which it may be). But, you will have to show clear and convincing evidence that Verizon invented this bill. That's a pretty high burden of proof, and I'm not sure how you would satisfy the burden.

Your facts suggest unusually difficult technology facts that are hard for both you and Verizon to prove, but which I would want to know about were I the judge.

However, most small claims judges are pretty dull, intellectually speaking, so the judge may simply ask if you were in Mexico during the time that the bill was generated, and then draw the conclusion that you must have agreed to the services, because otherwise, there would be no bill. I don't know if the judge will be sophisicated enough to recognize that there are ways to discover that your notebook is in Mexico and then generate a bill against your account number without your consent.

Honestly, this is a really tough little problem.
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