I use MCI's "The Neighborhood" flat-rate plan for my home phone line. When I first called them to sign up, I told them I knew there would be extra fees, but I wanted them to detail out each and every fee, so I knew the total price I would be paying (this way I could judge if it was worth it compared to my current phone bill). The woman I spoke to obliged, and listed out each fee, until the bill ended up at $57.42 - slightly less than my usual bill. I signed up. The first bill came and it was slightly over $64. They included a random extra $5 charge (which I got them to remove) and then told me that the fees the original operator had told me about - and which I had based my decision on - could not have been explained to me. They said that the woman I spoke to had simply made them up, and that they couldn't guarantee what the fees would be each month. Since then, every month, the fees have crept up, so I'm now paying over $62/month for the service that is still listed at a flat-rate of $49 - and which was promised to me at $57.42. When SBC called me to offer a similar plan, I asked them to detail the extra fees, and I was told there were none whatsoever - which is simply not true. It appears that I'm not the only person getting fed up with these fees. The NY Times has found that many consumers are increasingly angry about being lied to in advertised rates and "fake" fees that aren't "fees" at all, but simply the cost of doing business for the company. As it stands, in my case, all MCI has done is created a very disloyal customer, who is constantly looking for a better deal. Unfortunately, right now, I haven't been able to find one - since all the other phone companies are pulling the same scam. VoIP plans like Vonage are increasingly looking appealing, but so far still have a few problems that I don't want to bother with (such as not working if the cable modem goes down - which it does constantly). The phone companies claim they need to do this to stay competitive, but I'd be willing to pay a fair price for a company that was honest and treated me right. Maybe I'm the only one.
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