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.

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Companies: at&t, t-mobile

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

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out_of_the_blue says:

"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.

Chargone (profile) says:

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. )

Anonymous Coward says:


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.

Jed says:


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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

BongoBern (profile) says:

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.

Citizen Numb says:

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).

Havoc (profile) says:

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.

Jeffrey Nonken (profile) says:

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?

Brian says:

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.

webranger47 (profile) says:


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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