Remember Verizon's doublespeak efforts in explaining their new extra fee for DSL subscribers this week? This was their new "supplier surcharge," which is almost exactly the same as the now ended Universal Service Fee (USF). It turns out the fact that the amounts are nearly the same and one ends just as the other begins is a mere coincidence. BellSouth, on the other hand, couldn't even be bothered to pretend that any new fee is unrelated to the end of the USF. They've announced that they'll just keep on charging the exact same amount on everyone's bill and will pocket it. It won't even be called a "supplier surcharge" either. They're not even trying to hide it. BellSouth is calling it a "regulatory cost recovery fee," which is what they used to call it as well. Of course, there's no more regulation, so there's no more regulatory cost to recover. So, how does BellSouth explain that? Well, you see, it's "to offset costs incurred in complying with regulatory obligations and other expenses. The fee also recovers costs associated with additional systems necessitated by federal regulation, as well as costs associated with monitoring, participating in and complying with regulatory proceedings, and other network and servicing requirements." I've read that twenty times already, and I still don't know what they're saying, other than they don't really care, they just want to keep the money. The article also notes that when the telcos lobbied to be let out from having to pay into the USF system on DSL, part of the argument was that it would benefit consumers -- when the reality is that these two telcos have used it as an opportunity to shaft consumers. The article does point out that neither AT&T nor Qwest are continuing the fee, but that could always change once they see what their friends are doing.
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