You’d think that dominant banks, utilities and telecommunications companies would have learned the lesson by now. Consumers are sick and tired of being nickel-and-dimed, and won’t take it anymore.

But no.

Corporations persist in trying to foist new fees on the public. Then once outrage invariably builds, they have to do an embarrassing U-turn, plus damage control to their brand.

The latest mea culpa mambo was almost immediate. Verizon Wireless, the nation’s largest cellphone company, pulled the plug Jan. 6 on a plan to charge $2 for some customers to pay their bills, just one day after announcing it.

As fees go, this one was more ridiculous than most.

Starting Jan. 15, it would have hit customers who choose to make one-time credit or debit card payments, either online or over the phone. To avoid the fee, customers would have to enroll in automatic credit card payments, go into a store to pay, or mail a check.

That’s right — you would have been charged for paying your bill on time.

Even more amazing, Verizon Communications, the landline phone company that owns most of its wireless cousin, tried last year to introduce a similar fee but was forced to back off after customer complaints.

At the mercy of short-term investors, corporations are looking for any possible way to pad their bottom lines. Still, too many have forgotten the fundamentals of growing a business: Provide products or services that people want, make them available at a fair price and treat customers with respect.

Charging exorbitant or unnecessary fees is the opposite of those principles.

— The Sacramento Bee, Calif., Jan. 4


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