Hey, Verizon: Drop Cancellation Fees for Domestic Violence Survivors!

by Maggie Carr

It seems like Verizon can charge you for anything these days. Though skyrocketing fees are a mere annoyance for some, they also can mean the difference between life and death for victims of domestic violence.

Cynthia Butterworth, a resident of Rochester, NY, was shocked when her sister was brutally beaten by her boyfriend—and even more shocked when she learned that Verizon Wireless was planning to charge her $500 to end the cell phone contract she shared with her abuser.

Under Verizon’s current policy, her abusive boyfriend had access to records of all outgoing and incoming calls on the plan, and scarily enough, the location from which those calls were made. It was crucial to her sister’s safety to end that contract as quickly as possible, but financially impossible under the circumstances of her departure. Her boyfriend had control of all her assets, and a $500 cancellation fee would be incredibly difficult to afford.

Thankfully, Cynthia and her sister were eventually able to fight their way through Verizon’s customer service labyrinth to get the charges reversed. These bad-ass women didn’t stop there—they’ve also started a petition on change.org to request that Verizon waive cancellation fees for women (and men) fleeing domestic violence.

Verizon has already taken positive steps to help survivors—notably by establishing HopeLine, a program that recycles cell phones and provides them at low or no cost to domestic violence victims. We need to hold the company to its word on this issue.

So please, sign this petition.  I did.  It took twenty seconds tops, and that’s because I kept getting distracted by the new Grizzly Bear album.

It can take months, even years, for victims of domestic violence to get up the courage (and the resources) to leave their abusers, and we should be giving them access to as many resources as possible to make that difficult and necessary life transition.

Photo via change.org.

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