AT&T Takes A Lesson From Banks: Will Now Charge You For Not Using Enough Long Distance

from the a-sign-of-things-to-come dept

Sometimes you wonder if there's some sort of competition between airlines, banks and telcos as to who can come up with the more ridiculous "fees" to add. AT&T, which last we checked, was still trying to get a merger approved that it claims will benefit customers, has now decided to add a $2/month fee for people who don't have a long-distance plan. In other words, pay more, for less! This comes on top of a whole series of other ways to limit consumer choice while increasing what they have to pay. As Broadband Reports notes:
AT&T imposed new usage caps on broadband users without making sure the meters work. They followed that up by cracking down on unofficial tetherers (imposing a fee for doing nothing while crippling smartphones) and then substantially jacking up the price of SMS service by killing off one of their most popular SMS plans.
But have no fear, once AT&T gets T-Mobile and there's even less competition in the mobile space, we're sure that such practices will only... er... increase.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    abc gum, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:35pm

    Another reason to avoid AT&T.
    Thankfully there is still some competition in this area, not sure how long that will last.

     

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  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:41pm

    Long-distance plan? What is this, the 90's?

     

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  3.  
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    Squid Lips, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 5:54pm

    Yah AT&T you're going down too...

    VoIP

     

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  4.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:01pm

    As soon as the Sprint iPhone 5 hits the shelves, it's buh-bye AT&T.

     

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  5.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:22pm

    Re: Yah AT&T you're going down too...

    hasn't happened yet, and probably isn't going to. They ill hobble their own networks to see that it doesn't happen.

     

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  6.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Re:

    cause you really needed another one?

     

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  7.  
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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:38pm

    "some sort of competition between airlines, banks and telcos"

    "as to who can come up with the more ridiculous "fees" to add."

    Gosh, Mike, I think you've at last noticed... capitalism! The dark side where vast corporations are ALL arrayed against The People. Corporations engage in monetary predation at every opportunity, snatching dollars out of the jaws of rivals, even eating each other: used to be called "dog eat dog", but that mild variety is now over, and if the new phase is left unchecked, corporations are going to eat civliization itself.

    You keep exampling the horrors of the system, yet never mention the cure of regulating the heck out of corporations, even defend S&P after stating that they knowingly lied.

    Well. Longest comment so far in this thread, now I'm going back into the blue until bright and early Monday.

     

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  8.  
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    DOlz (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 6:46pm

    Possible Other Plans

    RIAA $2 per month charge for not buying music

    McDonald's $2 per month charge for not eating fast food

    State Government $2 per month charge for not speeding

    (fill in the blank) $2 per month charge for not (fill in the blank)

    With this great new business model everyones a winner.

     

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  9.  
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    Chargone (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 7:06pm

    Re: "some sort of competition between airlines, banks and telcos"

    regulating the heck out of corporations is the next best thing to actual competition for keeping the market stable and functioning (and unchecked competition without appropriate regulation can lead bad places too). right up until you run into the whole regulatory capture issue, of course. an annoying one that.

    the whole 'regulate anything big enough to be a danger to the public' thing seems to have worked in NZ for the most part, at least. pretty much anything significant either has Lots of competition or Lots of regulation. unfortunately, all it takes is for the wrong idiot (as opposed to the right idiot. hehe.) to end up in power and we end up with the closest thing to copies of the US's stupid corporation-driven laws they think they can get away with... (not many at a time, and not as bad as those in the USA, but still there. )

     

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  10.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:11pm

    Antitrust?

    If bundling IE or WMP in Windows OS would lead to antitrust lawsuit, wouldn't charge customers for "not" using their long-distince plan lead to the same?

    I mean... there's lots of companies offering long-distance VOIP call services at much lower fee... imposing such "not using their service" fee can create unfair competition environment.

     

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  11.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:24pm

    Re: Yah AT&T you're going down too...

    Sweet, I can stick it to them by using VoIP over... my AT&T DSL connection. You know, since it's the only broadband provider in town.

     

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  12.  
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    The Mighty Buzzard (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:26pm

    Re: "some sort of competition between airlines, banks and telcos"

    Allowing monopolies is as un-capitalistic as the government providing utility services. Dumbass.

     

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  13.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:35pm

    Re: Possible Other Plans

    Wait, what, none of that applies to you?

    Very well, $2/month fee for not paying any (other) $2/month fees, please!

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:40pm

    I currently have T-mobile and can say for my self that if AT&T gets there hand on it im out

     

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  15.  
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    Jed, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 8:46pm

    Regulation

    I would just like to point out that a BIG part of the problem is that there are too many bad regulations. These are the regulations that big companies like AT&T like because they benefit them while screwing their competitors/potential competitors and/or the public. So more regulations are not the answer, better regulations are. Regulations that are not influenced by lobbyists who are on big company payrolls but are designed to benefit the public. As Chargone pointed out there is something called regulatory capture, and out_of_the_blue what Mike is talking about is not capitalism it is corporatism the bastard evil twin to capitalism.

     

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  16.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 26th, 2011 @ 9:41pm

    While broadband keeps getting better and cheaper in other countries (and while long distance calling keeps getting cheaper elsewhere), broadband gets more expensive and worse (with the introduction of caps) in the U.S.

    Yet here we have government established monopolists claiming that allowing even less competition will somehow improve the situation, despite the fact that it only seems to be making things worse.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    Jesse (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:13pm

    Re: Possible Other Plans

    I imagine the reasoning is the exact opposite as for the data overage fees.

    "We can't have those who don't use, buy or want a service being subsidized by those who do. The 90% of customers who never use these services are leeching off the 10% that use it the most. It's simply unfair."

     

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  18.  
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    Jesse (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:14pm

    Re: Re: Possible Other Plans

    Fine, but $1 and $3 fees still apply.

     

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  19.  
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    Jesse (profile), Aug 26th, 2011 @ 11:15pm

    Re: Re: Possible Other Plans

    Plus don't forget the fee administration fee.

     

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  20.  
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    colony, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 4:03am

    get used to it

    charge for everything, welcome
    it's been like this in the uk for ages.
    do less, charge more. it's no wonder the western economies are failing at everything except annoying customers.
    eat f41l

     

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  21.  
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    princefeliz (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 4:45am

    At&t to charge for LG

    I sometimes wish we can come alone and just cancel all AT&T services. I for one am doing it. I understand is a symbolic thing to do because we are to arrogant as a nation to all do it at once. But I will feel better. @princefeliz

     

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  22.  
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    BongoBern (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 7:07am

    Fee for non-usage

    This is why we so distrust, if not dislike, if not loathe corporate think. Why Romney, Perry, and the Republicans should champion a new cause instead of corporate coddling. Pay not to use?! Like adding gas tax to someone with no car, or requiring "no car" insurance. Like taking 25$ off the cost of a plane ticket and charging 25$ for a piece of luggage. This is insane, absurd and, apparently, inevitable.

     

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  23.  
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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 7:34am

    Makes me wonder

    How much extra would is cost someone not to have a phone installed. I guess there's a route that AT&T can go to get more monies.

     

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  24.  
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    Citizen Numb, Aug 27th, 2011 @ 9:02am

    Pay more, and more, and more

    Until (very) recently, in Salt Lake City unincorporated areas all residents and businesses were sent a separate tax bill (some amounting to hundreds of dollars)for police/sheriff services, even though their services were not used/required for anything!!!, and even though normal taxes cover police services. Reasoning? "Normal" tax methods were not covering the increased costs of operations (you know, helicopters, SUVs, pensions, high salaries for the brass). These were not little fees. They really stung. The major of the county asked, knowing this was unpopular (the law was finally repealed a couple of months ago), "what else can we do?" Well, how about not expanding your costs (stop buying military war toys) and rolling back your perks until a fair tax base can be adjudicated. Otherwise this is just a mafia shakedown ("gee, wouldn't want anything to happen to your business... just saying.)Meanwhile, gotta populate those "for profit" prisons (one of the only growth industries going, these days).

     

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  25.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 10:01am

    Re: At&t to charge for LG

    Unfortunately, AT&T handles a very large percentage of internet traffic through their backbone. If you use the internet, you are doing business with AT&T, and are paying them for it, albeit indirectly.

     

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  26.  
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    Havoc (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Oh, let's just tell the rest of the story:
    This is for AT&T's LANDLINE customers. Just like Time Warner, making analog cable service unattractively expensive because digital is easier/cheaper to manage, AT&T would LOVE to kill off analog communications(landlines) to manage VOIP easier/cheaper.
    Not a surprise, but the seniors who CAN'T make the switch are the one's who'll pay for this, and their kids/grandkids should've bought them prepaid cells from WalMart to help cut the phone wire.

     

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  27.  
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    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 27th, 2011 @ 11:01am

    Long history

    When they introduced touch-tone they used to add a $2/mo fee for touch-tone service. It made a modicum of sense when they were first rolling it out. But the charge continued long after it was actually more of a burden to support dial phones and well after everything was done electronically. It took a couple decades at least before that charge finally went away.

    Big businesses will charge whatever they can get away with for whatever they can, and if the charges don't make sense it's up to the regulatory bodies to force them to cancel. They won't do it themselves no matter how ridiculous. And the regulatory bodies are bureaucracies, so very slow and a bit thick.

    Assuming they still exist. Didn't Reagan de-regulate everything?

     

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  28.  
    identicon
    Brian, Aug 28th, 2011 @ 12:40pm

    That $2 fee sounds ridiculous. If you think so too why don't you just cancel your att service when you can instead of complaining about it? Companies are not required to offer good service at a good price and you are not required to buy it either. I have Verizon service and don't plan to switch to ATT for this and other reasons. If you don't like what ATT is doing come over to Verizon.

     

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  29.  
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    webranger47 (profile), Aug 28th, 2011 @ 6:23pm

    Regulation

    There are perfectly good regulations on the books already, but corporate lobbyists and politicians who stand with and for corporate interests make certain that regulatory agencies' budgets are kept lean and hungry so that there aren't enough regulators to enforce the regulations. That way progressives are mollified because the regulations get passed in Congress, and the conservatives can laugh all the way to the bank, knowing that the regulations cannot be enforced. It's a win-win situation. Would you mind bending over a little farther please. This shouldn't hurt too much.

     

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  30.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 28th, 2011 @ 11:12pm

    Re:

    They are only not obliged to offer better service and prices because there is no competition, because if there was those things wouldn't happen.

     

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  31.  
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    Vincent Clement (profile), Aug 29th, 2011 @ 7:20am

    Re:

    Broadband is getting cheaper in the US. It's just that the ISPs are not passing a single penny of that savings to the consumer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 29th, 2011 @ 7:28am

    I am reminded of the credit card issuer who made the news a few years ago for cancelling the cards of those cardholders who paid their balance in full every month. The only customers they were interested in keeping were the ones who carried balances and incurred finance charges.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    UnkownAgent, Aug 31st, 2011 @ 7:59pm

    Not true

    I work for this company ATT, I will have to say, I may not like them, but this is not true, so someone needs to check their sources.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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