Verizon to pay Erie County $1M after billing error leads to overcharges

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Call it a good reminder to check your utility bills, and pay close attention to the cell phone bill, after Verizon erred and charged Erie County close to a half a million dollars.

The communications company has since paid most of it back, including the accrued interest, bringing the total bill to taxpayers at more than $900,000. Most of that bill was the result of incorrect charges. 

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz on Friday talked about the problem that was noticed earlier this year. Verizon representatives said they were notified in June.

The county uses Verizon for cell phone and data services. But most important, Verizon is the carrier that runs the county’s emergency 911 system.

Something didn’t add up with the bills, so the county hired an outside auditing company to determine whether there were any discrepancies. 

Poloncarz said this should serve as a reminder to not just take these kinds of utility bills for granted.

“I think it is a statement that other local governments need to think about that maybe we should be looking at our bills, too,” he said. “And that other large companies that rely on Verizon for their data and phone services, and say maybe we need to look at our bills, too.”

Representatives from Verizon said the problem was due to a “billing error,” but they declined to be more specific than that. The county will net about $685,000 dollars, after paying the accounting firm, Troy & Banks, about $215,000 — or about 24 percent of the discovery — for its services.

 

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