Verizon customers claim mysterious data usage

You might want to check your data usage if you’re a Verizon customer, if a Cleveland Plain Dealer investigation is any indication of a growing problem.

The newspaper is finding evidence of soaring charges for data usage, even though people who are reporting the problem say they’ve changed nothing in their smartphone habits.

Late last week, the paper’s “money” reporter wrote that phones connected via Verizon are “pinging” data at an increasing rate.

But why do our phones hit the data so often when we’re home and on wi-fi? And why are our phones hitting data in the middle of the night when they’re not being used and we’re home (and still on our wi-fi)? I don’t know.

In my unscientific survey, every person I’ve mentioned this in the last week has turned up a new Verizon customer who’s ticked off about the same thing.

In the case of my friend Karen, her son’s data usage has gone up for the last several months. They don’t know why. She’s been having her son — an adult — turn off his data as soon as he gets an alert that he’s used all of his data. He still ends up going over by .0001 GB a month and then she gets charged an extra $10.

That article brought people out of the woodwork to say it’s happening to them, too, all of a sudden. The worst case was a Florida woman who was billed nearly $9,000 for data, the Plain Dealer reports today.

Each month, she paid $118.

That changed in July. She said she was scheduled to go to a wedding that was out of town and feared there would not be Wi-Fi on the trip. She said she often had plenty of unused data, and she didn’t think of needing more.

On July 21, Verizon sent her a text, notifying her that she had used nearly all of her 4 gigabytes of data. The text said she could get 4 more gigabytes for $20. Realizing that she had two weeks before the end of the month, Gerbus bought the additional data.

Within an hour of the purchase, she received another text that told her she only had 10 percent left on the data that she had just purchased. The next text message she received said she could change her plan to 8 gigabytes for an additional $20 a month. She said she bought that upgrade to ensure she didn’t have any data overages.

In a span of several hours, she estimates that she received 40 to 50 texts saying that she needed to purchase more data. She turned the notification off, believing that there had been a glitch in Verizon’s system.

The woman dropped Verizon in favor of T-Mobile. Verizon charged her an additional $600 fee for doing so, the newspaper said.