Sunday, July 10, 2011
NYC: Verizon Over Charged Beth Israel Hospital By $9 Million
Can you pay me now?
Verizon slyly overcharged and double-billed Beth Israel Medical Center by millions for years, the hospital claims, and has allegedly refused to refund the money.
While Verizon hits the hospital with an 18 percent interest rate, it uses every excuse not to return the $9 million Beth Israel says it's owed.
The hospital should have known to ask for an exemption on certain data services, Verizon allegedly claimed -- services Beth Israel didn't want in the first place.
The utility said other refund requests were too old for them to pay out.
Blame it on the impossible-to-understand utility bills, Beth Israel said.
"Verizon attempts to prevent discovery of its overbillings by designing its bills in such a massive, complex, technical and obfuscatory way that its bills will not be understood by its customers," according to court papers.
Even the Verizon website is a confusing maze, Beth Israel says.
"As part of this scheme Verizon's guide and website are designed to be impenetrable to its customers," the hospital claimed.
Beth Israel was over-charged by $1 million through long-distance rates that were 10 times the 3-cent-a-minute rate in its contract; billed $340,000 for data services it never used; and charged about $7 million for services it had already pre-paid, according to a suit the hospital filed against Verizon in Manhattan federal court last month.
The hospital wants its money back, along with $25 million in punitive damages.
"Verizon is disappointed that the hospitals, themselves large, sophisticated businesses, have attempted to spin a past billing dispute into tales of fraud," said Verizon spokesman John Bonomo.