BellSouth Adds New Fee To Pay For The Non-Fee They No Longer Need To Collect

from the please-explain-this-one dept

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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Comments on “BellSouth Adds New Fee To Pay For The Non-Fee They No Longer Need To Collect”

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Yet Another Dissatisfied Customer says:

This is the last damn straw. I don’t even have one of their DSL lines, and it stills pisses me off. Of course, I made the mistake of getting a Verizon cell phone, so I’ve been pissed at them already. I’m under contract for another year with the cell phone, but as soon as it’s over I’m done with them.

Money grubbing, poor customer service, continual screwups… does it ever end?

I would advise anyone: google “verizon sucks” before signing up for any of their services.

icepick314 says:


i figure with all the competition between cell/DSL/cable/telco/VOIP would bring down the price and up the service to keep the customers but guess that’s not happening…

why won’t companies do better to keep the customers instead of constantly pissing people off for no good reason?

i swear when i had telco line, all those fees would jack up my bill by 200% at the end….it doesn’t seem alot with $3 here and another $2 here but after all the additions, my $17 bill would come to nearly $30….

Araemo says:

Re: interesting...

Vonage Customer:

DSL is no longer under the USF, but VoIP IS now, they weren’t before. So, A: Vonage is being charged the USF fee.

B: They do not have to itemize it in your bill, they could swallow the cost, but it’s much easier to just tack it on and say they’re required to charge you… In the end, they have to pay it, and since they get their money from you, you have to pay it.

Oliver Wendell Jones (profile) says:

Re: advertising

You’re right, and that’s what is wrong with the whole system.

I feel that anything that you’re required to pay every month, whether it’s sales tax, universal service fee, regulatory recovery fee, etc., should all be included in advertised cost of the product being sold. I recently moved to Iowa and my home phone service is supposed to be $29.95 per month for local calls only – no long distance, no special features, just a phone number that works. My monthly bill is over $39 each month because of tacked-on fees and taxes that *have* to be paid, but they’re not included in the advertised price.

I called up the local cable company which offers their own VoIP offering for $29.95 per month which includes every possible calling feature *and* unlimited long distance and I asked how much it would be each month with all fees and taxes applied – $31.75 is what I was told which includes the local sales tax. They’re going to switch me over on August 31, we’ll see what happens…

Jordan says:

They can charge it

Yes, comsumers have rights. You have the right to CANCEL your service. BellSouth and Verizon can charge whatever they want. If you don’t like the fee, call and complain. What is it, a buck and a half max? I used to work for an ISP’s cancellations department. If someone whined about a fee like that, and threatened to cancel, we’d just offer to take it off and get bonuses to keep the account. If they won’t do something about it, then switch services, by all means. That’s the worst thing you can do to them. And tell them it’s because of the fee. That’s the only way to get them to change – get enough people to do that (which I’m not saying is easy, but..) and they’ll change.

Charles Frolick says:

Re: They can charge it

Problem is, in most regions, changing ISP’s is still giving money to Verizon, AT&T, BellSouth or whoever since the lines are owned and controlled by the ILEC. In Houston, unless you go cable, satellite, dial-up, or happen to live in a community that provides it, 90% chance the ISP is a AT&T DSL reseller. There are a couple areas that are Verizon or other provider CO’s.

Oh, I forgot, the AT&T wholesale price is only $1 to $2 dollars less than their direct price for consumers, in most cases.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: They can charge it

…and what would that give the end user?

Cancelling service will only hurt the consumer that now no longer has any ISP. These companies have divided the geographical area, so that in order to swap ISP you physically have to move, in my head this is what I call a monopoly. This is really what they want, because most people will not move in order to swap ISP, and the greedy companies can keep prices high.

If you are lucky, you might have one telco and one cableco offering service where you live, but this seems more like an exception these days, and even if you do, the prices are still high.

chris (profile) says:

Re: Re: They can charge it

If you are lucky, you might have one telco and one cableco offering service where you live, but this seems more like an exception these days, and even if you do, the prices are still high.

and that is the problem. high speed cable and DSL are not an “apples to apples” competition. in most neighborhoods you need to have a phone line to get DSL or cable television to get a cable modem. the only choice you have is which useless service (thanks to VOIP and IPTV) you have to pony up for.

offering DSL without phone service (called “nakedDSL” in some circles) is available in a few markets in the continental united states, and some markets let you get internet access thru your powerlines, but that’s it for pure internet access.

Bull says:

Big Telco’s effectively killed competitive DSL back in 2003. Believe it or not, at one point there were more DSL subscribers than Cable IP subs. That was when there was competition and big telco’s had to lease access to others. But those days are long gone. My recommendation is to get cable broadband now…and look to muni-wifi followed by WiMax in the not-so-distant future.

Btw, I called Comcast yesterday to cancel my $42.99 monthly cable IP service. Before I could finish the sentence the phone rep offered me 6 months at $19.99 to stay. I stayed. Try it and you might get the same!!!

Vonage Boy says:

Telco's blow

This type of thing is why I use Vonage now. I don’t like it very much, as I constantly get dropped packets and cuts in the conversation, but its a lot better than agreeing to 29.95 a month and getting billed for 45 dollars after all the fees and taxes (with no long distance calls). At least Vonage bills you what they say they will.

Alex (user link) says:

Bring attention to this

I always tried to bring attention to how ridiculous the USF was. Let’s fund a war that’s been over for generations.

Now that the actual law has been repealed, there’s no excuse. Sure they could just raise prices to compensate, but that would put them in an obvious bad light. It’s much easier to keep sneaking line items onto the bill so they can advertise their “base prices” which actually have nothing to do with reality.

It’s true people don’t really have an alternative, other than simply not have phone or internet service. Still, if we are able to make enough people aware it could affect the the image of the company and help bring about change.

Gabriel Tane (profile) says:

The point has been made

The point that needs to be made has been said: You don’t have to give them your business. The Telco’s have every right (except where prohibited by regulation) to charge you whatever the hell they want to.

That’s how our economy works. If they aren’t competitive because they are charging ridiculous fees, then they don’t get the business. It’s that simple.

But I also like Bull’s idea:

“Btw, I called Comcast yesterday to cancel my $42.99 monthly cable IP service. Before I could finish the sentence the phone rep offered me 6 months at $19.99 to stay. I stayed. Try it and you might get the same!!!”

If you want to, or feel that you have to, give your business to one of these companies, then beat them at their own game. Work their system to your advantage.

For further example, how many people here used to be on BMG or a similar purchase program? How many times would you cancel right after you met your obligation, so that you can get the “come back to us” offer for (comparatively) super-cheap CD’s?

Same idea.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The point has been made

“Collusion to raise prices is against the law


Collusion to raise prices is where a bunch of competitors get together and all agree not to undercut each other so that the price doesn’t drop. That’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m talking about giving these companies enough rope to hang themselves with. If they want to charge more money than thier competitors, let them. If they all want to charge it, it’ll only take one of them to say “Hey everyone, come do business with us. We don’t charge that fee!”. That kind of selling point will cause the other’s to drop the fee too.

chris (profile) says:


in few years time there will be only two telcos:

verizon and AT&T.

once bell south gets bought/sold/assimlated by AT&T, cingular will convert to AT&T again. that brand is just too important to die.

the others, qwest and sprint and whatever, will either die off or get eaten by the big two and there will be little or no competition in the telco industry. even if they don’t they will only matter to the people fortunate enough to live somewhere where there is a little competition.

i don’t think that there will ever be enough competition to cause a “race to the bottom” for internet access, even though it’s the only service (other than water, electricity, and waste disposal) that could be considered essential.

Anonymous Coward says:

Good article in USA Today about the battle of bundles concerning Verizon’s FiOS and Cablevision. Consumers are being offered voice/video/data for under a hundred bucks a month. The article calls it Corporate OK Corral.

As a point, SBC bought AT&T, which then became AT&T (or at&t, depending on which presentation you watched) and then AT&T bought Bell South.

No, the USF did not pay for wiretapping, and in fact, the govt. reimburses the communications companies for this service.

In terms of the advertised price, I agree that anything that is not a tax should be included in the advertising, but forcing them to inlcude taxes in the advertisements would be a problem as states have different tax structures, these fees that are mandatory (but not actually taxes) should be included in the advertised price.

Oh, and considering the broadband penetration rate in the US, I hardly see how broadband access can be considered essential.

Anonymous Coward says:

Regulatory Cost Recovery Fee

The fee is $2.97 a month and is slated to end in the next few months, with the exact amount being rolled into all DSL plans.

SBC bought AT&T and chose to use thier name as it was more recongnizable. The new at&t is currently slated to purchase Bellsouth barring any governmental intervention approximately the beginning of next year.

Should this particular issue offend you enough – threaten to cancel service and see what they offer you. You might make out on the deal.

Randy says:


News Release Issued: August 25, 2006 4:31 PM EDT

BellSouth Statement on Cost Recovery

ATLANTA, Aug. 25 /PRNewswire/ — Today, BellSouth announced that it is
immediately eliminating a fee assessed on its DSL Internet services. As
described on BellSouth’s website, the broadband fee was designed to recover a
number of costs remaining from previous regulatory obligations and other
network expenses that increase the cost of the Internet services we provide
to consumers. Since the FCC eliminated the continuing applicability of many
of these regulations, BellSouth has been able to provide a greater variety of
Internet services to consumers, to which consumers have responded
enthusiastically, and has signed over 300 contracts to provide independent
Internet service providers with wholesale DSL services.

The vast majority of BellSouth’s DSL Internet service customers will see this
change on their bills within a week, although it will take up to six weeks to
implement this change for all of BellSouth’s DSL Internet service customers.
Any payments attributable to this fee will be credited back to August 16,

SOURCE: BellSouth Corporation

CONTACT: Joe Chandler, Director – Media Relations of BellSouth
Corporation, +1-404-829-8700, or

Web site:

Company News On-Call:

Lonny Paul (profile) says:

Are you kidding me?

These guys are crazy. First of all, how can anyone within any regulatory power say, okay, well, you demand we end the collection of the USF, but it’s okay for you to continue to gauge the consumer? NO!

I’ve been irked about paying that USF charge for years- it’s stupid, it’s not like we really have rural areas where consumers need served and there aren’t adequate facilities in place. The telcos are equally involved as any municipal agency in residential zoning expansion and any new construction is on the top of everyone’s list, trying to be that single provider within the home for all things, broadband, phone service and television.

A BellSouth representative said they have been testing DSL at speeds of 24Mbps for about a year now, allowing them to carry their new television signal into our homes.

Why haven’t they?

Also, if Fiber to the curb has been their goal for the last 5-10 years, why was my home, constructed just over three years ago still on POS copper, and better yet, can’t even get the highest speed dsl. C’mon guys. You’d think living across from the Doral Country Club there would be ample services to those who live here. They would tend to spend more, I’d think.

BellSouth, c’mon! Be fair, you pretty much own everything now anyway (Welll, MA AT&T).

Lonny Paul (profile) says:

Re: Are you kidding me?

Okay, Sorry to post again, but I went back and was writing about this terrible thing being done to consumers, and I got quite empassioned, ending up writing an empassioned exposé of this whole BellSouth scandal, starting with looking at my phone bill.

What I found is this.

First, they charge us for our service.
Then they still collect the USF, but thats only about 70¢.
But, what’s this $6.50 charge (per line of course, all charges are) for network access? Isn’t that what I pay for to start with in getting a phone line?

Okay, so they are getting 69.5¢ per line they don’t deserve.

According to their current financial report for the period ending June 31st, this monthly revenue would equal $13,413,500 a month (they have 19.3 million total access lines).

If they are collecting this on Cingular bills for wireless service, thats 57.3 million subscribers. That would bring their monthly bounty to $53,237,000!!

This is CRAZY!

Jack Frost says:

They are all problematic.. so chose the lesser of

I have had Sprint, AT&T, MCI, Alltel, blah blah blah…
Who is the crappiest? I dunno… MCI has continued to bill me for an account cancelled in 1999, despite numerous complaints to them (yep, its on the credit report and they won’t take it off). AT&T… Hell, don’t even get me started with those jackasses (I can say that because I am doing contract tech support for them… they suck royal). Sprint, I think named themselves such as they only want to take your money and run… Alltel just plain old sucks. My verizon wireless has typically been great until recently (but its more a product issue with Samsung than a provider problem). So.. whats it all come down to? You’re as damned with one as you are another, be it phone service, cable or internet. So grumble and complain and release the stress because simply put… the corporations don’t care.

Tony Dockery (user link) says:

Greed and Dishonesty is the norm

Now first of all I signed up for verizons family plan advertised as $35 month so I’m like ok I can afford this so like an Idiot I signed up got the insurance package which brought it up to $45 free phone and supposedly free activation. But what they don’t tell you is they have surcharges that are not taxes they keep the money and the government allows them to charge you this (somebody paid a few congressmen and senators I’m sure for that privilege) and the extra charges are not listed as part of the plan when you are signing up. Now this being said my first bill was $173 dollars I came unglued but I paid it… next bill was $85 so now my $45 month phone bill was to be $85 month (and I never used up my minutes either) I’m pissed cause the surcharges which they really hose you down on to pay for there cell towers are killing me..I can buy a prepaid cell phone cheaper than verizons well advertised family plan and if they had any honesty to them I would have been told that before I bought into there scheme. I told them to stick it in there ear …in 2 months I had already paid them for this so called free phone…Thats why they offer this free stuff ..ha-ha well nothing in life is free and cell phones carriers are greed barons only the wealthy or business’s can afford the crap and that’s who they feed off of the rest of us can eat dirt. Doesn’t matter how good the service is when your wallet is getting greased they can afford to kiss your butt to make you happy….and one more thing I wish the
Government would get out of this charging their stupid fees it only adds to the misery of it all…if they was doing anything to earn that money they would at least have set prices
for all states and not let each state charge what they want ,this way phone bills would be easier to read. more standardized. The way they list the charges is evident that they try to hide them so as not to look so obvious Go to verizons website and short of actually calling them(and you still wont find out ) see if you can find all those hidden charges I couldn’t they do not tell you period until you get your first bill and then its to late to cancel…greed and dishonesty prevails in all the monopolies the billions they make goes a
long way towards lining crooked politicians pockets. its a vicious circle in which the only ones who suffer are the individuals. Even though it will go on my credit report I refused to pay them I will still suffer for it but ill be dammed if I will play their game. I can live just fine without a cell phone.

Richard Steckler says:

Bellsouth sucks

I don’t know if people are aware of this, but bs has hidden spam filters on their email that you cannot control. I have lost lots of business and friends overseas because their emails don’t get through. The low level employees don’t know about it and will deny it, but I got it straight from a high level tech support person. When you go to your personal bs dsl website and click on “no spam filters” it does not eliminate the bs in house filters. If you have ever wondered why you lose emails, that is why. I think if everyone knew about this they would complain and it might change, but I don’t know how to let people know.

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