Verizon New England Inc. paid more than $1.3 million to settle a lawsuit pending in Hampshire Superior Court alleging that it overcharged the Commonwealth for phone services, the Attorney General’s Office said Tuesday.
Between September 2006 and October 2012, the AG contends that Verizon invoiced some of its state contract customers for items and services – including local calling usage, regional toll service, flat rate business lines, flat rate trunks, and business listings – at a higher rate than the statewide procurement contract allowed.
A whistleblower filed the lawsuit under the False Claims Act; the AG and Inspector General investigated. Per the settlement’s terms, Verizon must also offer refunds to the communities and other entities affected by the purported overcharges.
This isn’t the first time that Verizon New England Inc. has paid to resolve allegations that it overcharged cities and towns across the Commonwealth for phone services. In December 2011, it paid more than $800,000 – on top of a $1.5 million refund to overcharged customers – to settle a similar lawsuit. The company blamed the overcharge, which occurred in 2006, on inaccurate information that had been programmed into new billing software, The Boston Globe reported.
In April 2011, Verizon settled another suit, this time with the Justice Department, alleging that the company overcharged the federal government for voice and data services. That settlement cost Verizon $93.5 million, according to The Globe.