The law firm of Smithwick & Belendiuk is asking the FCC to release documents detailing exchanges with Verizon Wireless over phony data charges, which resulted in the carrier agreeing to refund $52.8 million to customers and pay $25 million to the U.S. Treasury in October of last year.
In a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, the firm argues the FCC has erroneously withheld the documents from public view, preventing customers and other stakeholders from learning whether Verizon’s $77.8 million settlement was “adequate redress for Verizon Wireless’ wrongs.”
“Aside from describing remedial measures for customers that were wrongly charged and protective measures to prevent such occurrences in the future, neither the Bureau nor Verizon Wireless gave any insight into how the company had managed the problem or why it had doggedly maintained for so long that it was not wrongly charging customers,” wrote attorney Arthur Belendiuk in the firm’s FOIA request. “Despite the previous pleas of Commissioner Clyburn and Chief Ellison for answers to these key questions, the public still is completely in the dark about how this travesty could have been prolonged and eventually harm at least fifteen million customers.”
Smithwick & Belendiuk’s FOIA request suggests the company redacted large swaths of the 111 pages of documentation in the case in an effort to protect its reputation. Verizon could not be reached for comment by press time, but has insisted the erroneous charges were inadvertent.