It's been a big year for Change.org.
As a result of a Change.org petition which received more than 130,000 signatures within hours, Verizon Wireless announced yesterday it is canceling a planned $2 "convenience fee" for online and phone bill payments. The nation's largest U.S. mobile carrier reversed its decision after just one day in response to customer backlash.
Verizon said it planned to add the fee to address the costs it incurs for processing the single payments. Within hours of Verizon's proposed changes, customers created more than 35 petitions against the fee on Change.org, the popular online petition site. Others began criticizing the company on Twitter and calling for consumers to boycott the carrier. The FCC also said Friday it was "concerned" about the plan and that it would investigate.
The most popular petition was created by Molly Katchpole. She said, "It’s not just about the money … though if you’re like me, you don’t have extra cash to be sending to a giant phone company in order to pay your own bills. It’s that Verizon thinks it can do anything to its customers, and that we’re powerless to stop it. (Spoiler alert: We’re not.)”
Several months ago, Katchpole created a similar petition against Bank of America's proposed $5 monthly fee for debit card users. Close to 300,000 people signed her petition, and in addition to successfully helping change BoA’s policy, Katchpole was named one of Time Magazine’s protestors of the year.
Both examples are powerful evidence of the growing popularity and impact of online activism and petition sites like Change.org to change policy. The site is becoming a force to be reckoned with, helping everyday citizens to take small action to have a large impact.
As Brianna Cayo Cotter, a spokeswoman for Change.org, noted, "Companies used to think they could get away with putting out unpopular policies. Today, hundreds of thousands of people can mobilize and change policies in a matter of hours. That's what we're seeing with Verizon."
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