Verizon gives the boot to 8,500 rural customers for ‘using too much data’

After major backlash, Verizon revises stance on kicking customers off service

Verizon may be touting its position as the best network in America, but not all Americans can take advantage of this positioning. Earlier this week, the wireless carrier confirmed that it would be disconnecting 8,500 customers in rural parts of the country because they were using too much data. But now, after what somehow seemed to be an unanticipated backlash, Verizon is backtracking on its statement a little bit.

In an emailed statement, Kelly Crummey, Verizon’s director of corporate communications, told Digital Trends, “We recently notified approximately 8,500 Verizon customers that we would no longer offer service to them because our costs when they roam on other wireless networks exceed the amount they pay us every month. Since that notification, we have become aware of a very small number of affected customers who may be using their personal phones in their roles as first responders and another small group who may not have another option for wireless service.”

As a result, Big Red now says that it’s “committed to resolving these issues in the best interest of the customers and their communities,” and also “committed to ensuring first responders in these areas keep their Verizon service.”

Consequently, if you were one of the people notified that Verizon would be cutting you off, you now have more time to switch providers. The new cutoff date for customers is December 1 (it was previously October 17), and if users are unable to find an alternate provider, Verizon is giving them the opportunity to switch to a two, four, five, or eight GB plan.

“We will continue to regularly review the viability of accounts of customers who live outside of the Verizon network. Supporting these roaming customers can often be economically challenging, especially supporting those on plans with unlimited data or other high-data plans. However, we are continuing to look for ways to support existing roaming customers with LTE service,” Verizon added. “We have a long history of serving rural markets and care about you, your friends and families in these communities.”

Rumors first began to circulate a few months ago regarding Verizon’s contentious decision to remove customers who were “using too much data,” but at the time, the company noted that only a “small group” of subscribers would be affected, and that the decision was based on expired contracts. But apparently, that wasn’t entirely true.

Update: Verizon has given customers a bit more time to find an alternative provider.