UPDATED: Verizon and AT&T extended their pledges to not shut off service — or charge late fees — through June 30 for consumer and small-business customers facing financial hardships during the COVID-19 crisis.
The renewed commitments come after both telcos joined the FCC-led Keep Americans Connected pledge last month. Verizon and AT&T have now extended the no-disconnect promise for seven more weeks, as has Comcast, which additionally is offering free broadband to low-income Americans through the end of June.
Verizon on Monday said it “will neither terminate service nor charge late fees to our postpaid wireless, residential, and small business customers” as long as they notify the company of their inability to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Verizon defines “small business” customers as those with 50 lines or fewer. The company said customers can find more info at this link.
AT&T also said it will continue its pledge to not cut off residential or small-biz customers through June 30, 2020, as long as they notify the telco they are unable to pay their bills due to disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
AT&T is waiving any late-payment fees for postpaid wireless; home phone; broadband residential or small business; and U-verse TV or DirecTV customers. AT&T also is waiving postpaid wireless plan overage charges for data, voice or text for residential or small business customers and is making public Wi-Fi hotspots open for free.
In reporting Q1 results, Verizon said COVID-19 cut into earnings by 4 cents per share — primarily as the result of customers not paying their bills. During the first three months of 2020, Verizon said “bad debt” expenses increased by $228 million based on the expected number of customers who are unable to pay their bills.
Verizon said it expects bad-debt costs to be higher in the second quarter of 2020 than in Q1.