7OYS helps couple get refund for smart TV data overage fees

September 13, 2013 7:43:12 PM PDT
Millions of Americans are using smartphones, but now there are also some who have smart TV's.

They're pretty handy, but a word of caution: One Bay Area couple received a huge bill the first time they used their smart TV.

James McMaster and his partner Geoffrey Wood were excited about their new smart TV.

"You can access the Internet," McMaster said.

It's like a television, computer and movie house all rolled into one.

However, there was one little problem. Their new TV had all those cool features, but when they bought it they had to avoid using them.

"The use would have been so minimal it wouldn't warrant the purchase," McMaster said.

This is because he bought the TV at Best Buy, which also sold him an Internet plan from Verizon Wireless.

"I could run the TV wirelessly and the Internet and I could stream," McMaster said.

A Best Buy sales person said they could watch 10 movies per month under the Verizon plan, which costs $50 a month.

"Everything went fine and then I got my first bill, it was pretty shocking," McMaster said.

Instead of $50, Verizon billed them $288 for the first month. Verizon said they had gone way over their data limit and McMaster said that was impossible because they had only watched two movies.

"How could we be billed for overages if I had watched far less than 10 movies," Mcmaster said.

Verizon said their plan gave nowhere near enough data to watch 10 movies or allow much use of this TV at all.

"They said I had to be very careful about streaming anything," McMaster said.

They also found out their wireless receiver would send them a message when they were approaching their data limit.

So, Mcmaster upgraded the plan and avoided using the TV. Still, he got a bill for $110. He tried to cancel the plan but Verizon charged him $160 for early termination.

"It felt trapped and very disheartening," Wood said.

The couple said they were stuck with fees, a TV they could hardly use and the two companies wouldn't help.

"I called 7 On Your Side and then miraculously everybody was talking to me," McMaster said.

7 On Your Side contacted Best Buy and Verizon and both took action. First Best Buy reimbursed James $238 for those overage fees. And Verizon agreed to waive that $160 early termination fee.

Best Buy would not discuss the case citing privacy rules but released a statement: "Our goal is to provide our customers with the right products for them at the right price and when that doesn't happen, we work hard to provide a positive experience."

Verizon said: "We provide extensive training on our products and services to our employees and our national retail partners. We regret any inconvenience Mr. McMaster may have experienced."

Now the couple has an unlimited Internet plan and they enjoy unlimited cool features.

"A sigh of relief. You know, Michael Finney and the 7 On Your Side team was like well, I really have your back," Wood said.

A huge thanks to Best Buy and Verizon for providing a refund to the customers. The Verizon plan is meant primarily for mobile devices like phones or iPads.

If you have a smart TV, a direct Internet connection works best.


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