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Expensive Replacement Batteries Catch Verizon, Comcast Customers By Surprise

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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Award-winning journalist Paula Ebben co-anchors WBZ-TV News at 6PM...
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BOSTON (CBS) – Many families bundle cable, internet, and phone services to save a bundle of cash. But a new charge is catching some customers by surprise.

“One night I’m sitting upstairs and I hear this beeping. I thought it was maybe a smoke detector battery or something but my husband said, ‘Oh it’s the Verizon box,’ ” said Verizon customer Kristie Finnan.

(Image courtesy: Verizon.com)

(Image courtesy: Verizon.com)

The noise was coming from a 12-volt battery in the basement that needed to be replaced.

That battery is also considered a vital life-line. It keeps the phone service powered up when the power goes out.

Kristie confesses, “I didn’t know it had a battery. To be honest, I had no idea until it started beeping.”

The modem is rented from Verizon but it’s still up to customers to pay for the replacement battery and it’s not cheap.

It costs $34.99 plus tax and shipping if customers order from the company.

“It’s included for the first year of service… with the warranty period. After that the customer’s responsible for replacing the battery if they choose,” said Verizon spokesperson Lee Gierczynski.

He also said this information is laid out in the terms and conditions, “it clearly outlines what customers [are] responsible for in terms of battery.”

Reading through the 26-page long “Terms of Service” we couldn’t find any mention of paying for a replacement battery.

It is easy to find on the website, if you know to look for it.

Comcast XFinity now charges customers for all batteries, a policy the company says is disclosed in the initial ordering process.

Edgar Dworsky of ConsumerWorld.org in Somerville told WBZ-TV customers are paying a fortune for phone service and companies need to be more upfront about the costs.

“They should be responsible for maintaining their equipment. It should work fully and they should replace anything that goes wrong, including the battery.”

Dworsky said savvy shoppers should consider buying a battery from stores that sell it for half the prices as the phone providers.

But, if you buy the cheaper battery and anything goes wrong, be aware, you could be responsible for damage to the equipment.

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