When 60% Of Your Phone Bill Is From Unadvertised Fees

from the seems-a-bit-extreme dept

We've had plenty of stories about phone companies and all of the additional fees they add to your bill, but the Miami Herald has a few examples where the situation clearly goes beyond any reasonable level. Take, for example, a simple plan from BellSouth, advertised at $11.04/month. What they leave is out the extra $16 in fees and taxes (BugMeNot required) that turn the $11 plan into a $27 one. Then, there are companies like Primus which is adding a $15 "low usage" fee for anyone who doesn't make $25 worth of long distance calls per month. The telcos come back with their usual refrain that they somehow "need" to collect this fee "to recoup normal business expenses." That, of course, is a ridiculous statement. Any normal business prices their "normal business expenses" into their advertised prices. This is simply a way for the telcos to advertise lower prices than they're really charging. Perhaps other companies should get into this game as well. Want a pizza pie? It's just $3, but there's a $3.50 "crust fee," a $9.38 "oven fee," a $4.50 "service fee," and a $2.18 "cleanup fee." Plus tax.

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  1. identicon
    Patrick Foarde, 20 Sep 2004 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Can't have it both ways

    I want to state up front that I am a PR flack and I represent a major carrier.

    That said, I respect peopleís dismay over the garbage fees that pump up their monthly wireless bills. What I donít get is why more people arenít upset with the government and regulatory agencies that impose the mandates that cause these fee hikes. Universal Service Fee, Telephone Relay for the Deaf, number pooling and portability - not taxes by definition - but all mandated by government just the same. Carriers donít have the discretion to say no to these costs (neither do their customers).

    So why arenít these taxes? Ė because they arenít passed back to the government and the carrier isnít required by government to collect them. But, they still have to absorb the cost. As I see it, itís just government forcing business to pay for services government should be providing (or not providing based on oneís political inclinations.)

    And then thereís pure government surcharges. For example, the City of Baltimore charges $3.50 per month per customer Ė just because it can Ė and it needs the money. Itís a nice model for politicians Ė fund services w/o having to ďraise taxes.Ē

    I read all the time that folks want these costs factored into the monthly service fees. To me, that's really hiding the costs. Is there anyone out there that prefers to see these govt. garbage fees line itemed? I do, but thatís just me. It reminds me where I should be directing my disdain.

    As for advertising, should carriers move the tax and mandates line items out of the small print and put them up front with the rate plans? That doesnít seem to be a popular approach for any other industry that has to (or chooses to) tack on garbage fees.


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