With the U.S. economy in dire shape and millions of people currently struggling to pay their bills, Verizon and AT&T recently announced that they will not charge subscribers overage fees for exceeding their monthly bandwidth allotment.
It's a nice gesture, but the rub is that the overage fees will not be waived automatically. Rather, subscribers will have to contact Verizon and AT&T directly via the phone. We can only hope that there will be enough staff on-hand to accommodate what could very well be an avalanche of people calling in.
Incidentally, Verizon will also waive late fees for individuals who can't make their monthly payments on time. Verizon's suspension of late fees and overage charges will be in place for 60 days and will run from March 16 through May 13. What's more, Verizon on Monday announced that it will automatically give subscribers 15GB of additional data from March 25 through April 30.
In a similar vein, AT&T earlier this month said that it will waive late payment fees and overage charges for a 60-day period starting on March 13.
AT&T's announcement reads in part:
Consistent with FCC Chairman Pai’s “Keep Americans Connected Pledge” announced today and concerns raised by members of Congress, which we share, AT&T is proud to support our customers by pledging that, for the next 60 days (as of March 13, 2020), we will:
Not terminate the service of any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer because of their inability to pay their bill due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Waive any late payment fees that any wireless, home phone or broadband residential or small business customer may incur because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.
(NEW) Waive domestic wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text for residential or small business wireless customers incurred because of economic hardship related to the coronavirus pandemic.
Keep our public Wi-Fi hotspots open for anyone who needs them.
AT&T subscribers who find themselves unable to pay their bills can call support at 1-800-288-2020. Notably, we've seen reports indicating that AT&T subscribers will not have to provide proof of economic hardship to take advantage of AT&T's updated regulations.
All told, AT&T and Verizon's response is commendable and is to be expected given that the coronavirus has completely upended the U.S. economy. With nearly every business closed down and millions of people stuck at home on lockdown, the unemployment rate is now at an all-time high.
To that end, the U.S. Department of Labor today said that a record number of individuals filed for unemployment benefits this month:
In the week ending March 21, the advance figure for seasonally adjusted initial claims was 3,283,000, an increase of 3,001,000 from the previous week's revised level. This marks the highest level of seasonally adjusted initial claims in the history of the seasonally adjusted series. The previous high was 695,000 in October of 1982.
Consequently, the Senate this week passed a $2 trillion aid package, the largest in American history.