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Rate Hikes in Sheep's Clothing
Consumer groups rally against 'fees'
by Karl Bode 10:39AM Friday Apr 02 2004
As previously discussed, BellSouth recently added a "regulatory cost recovery" fee of $2.97 to customer DSL bills. Letters informing customers of the change caused a long discussion over the tactic in our BellSouth forum, and now SBC has unveiled their own - much to the chagrin of consumer advocates. The fee is not assessed by the government, and consumer groups argue it's simply a rate hike in sheep's clothing. The biggest problem is that the fee isn't included in the cost that these companies are advertising. Critics charge this allows the companies to advertise one rate, charge another, and then blame the government when you get angry. We've been changing our own price comparisons to reflect this.

While just yesterday we praised SBC for their decision to offer higher speeds and lower their rates, the reality is those price reductions are simply being offset by new hidden fees. Surcharges ranging from $1.84 to $5.83 a month are being added to customer bills, depending on which of SBC's 13 states you live in. If you don't see the fee yet, you will when your contract comes up for renewal.

The justification for the fee from both companies is that the Universal Service Fund (see FCC definition), and other regulatory efforts are draining their coffers. "Given the dramatic way that it has increased in the last couple of years, we have found it necessary to break it out," says SBC spokesman Joe Izbrand to the Dallas Morning News.

Consumer groups argue that the USF is simply part of the cost of doing business in the United States, and should be included in the overall price of service. "It's a price increase," bluntly notes Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America.

This week, that debate heated up slightly. The National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), which represents some 43 state agencies, urged the FCC to ban such "fees".

"In the last few years, wireline and wireless carriers have concocted line item charges, fees, and surcharges, purporting to recover all manner of "regulatory," "administrative," or "government-mandated" costs, but which do nothing more than soak consumers for the carriers' ordinary operating costs," the petition states.

As debate heated up through the week, telco defense of the tactic has been swift. Editorials like this one in the Las Vegas Review Journal, claim the bells are simply going "to great expense ... to educate consumers." "Then again, we're dealing with "consumer advocates," who -- in many cases -- are little more than big government shills," the author complains.

The official line from the bells was similar, though less venomous. "I'm surprised that anyone thinking of consumers first would want to eliminate information that explains to consumers what those fees are for," says Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless.

Consumer advocates, like Billy Jack Gregg, director of the West Virginia Consumer Advocate Division, aren't buying it. "We don't want any better descriptions. We don't want better labeling. We want these line items banned. Let the phone companies recover all of their costs in the prices they charge for the services they offer," said Gregg.

view:
topics flat nest 

borborpa
Slipping Slowly Into Oblivion
Premium
join:2002-02-20
New Cumberland, PA

I don't get it...

"Consumer advocates, like Billy Jack Gregg, director of the West Virginia Consumer Advocate Division, aren't buying it. "We don't want any better descriptions. We don't want better labeling. We want these line items banned. Let the phone companies recover all of their costs in the prices they charge for the services they offer," said Gregg."

So basically, he'd rather just have the companies raise prices without showing any justification for it?? I'd MUCH rather see line items, that way I know what I'm paying for! I don't want SBC charging $50 for a phone line saying "it's our price with all the taxes and stuff figured in..."

As for USF recovery on DSL, the Bells have been doing it for years, it was only a matter of time.
--
There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.[AIM - BoyBandsMakeUGay]
lefty1

join:2002-10-25
Clay, NY

Re: I don't get it...

It's complete crap. If the cost is legitimate, let them include it in their advertised price. They can always offer an explanation for the increase when it's announced, but this borders on false advertising. It doesn't take a Harvard business graduate to see where this can lead if the practice is allowed to continue

pnh102
Reptiles Are Cuddly And Pretty
Premium
join:2002-05-02
Mount Airy, MD

Re: I don't get it...

said by lefty1:
It's complete crap. If the cost is legitimate, let them include it in their advertised price. They can always offer an explanation for the increase when it's announced, but this borders on false advertising.

It is false advertising, and its only a matter of time before companies that do this get sued for it. I'm the last person to advocate the "there ought to be a law" solution, but any company that advertises the costs of its services should include any non-taxes as part of the advertised price, or advertise the complete price as the actual cost of the service.

When you go to the grocery store to buy something, you pay that price plus a sales tax. You don't pay the price, some BS fee and then the tax. Communications services should be no different.
--
Keep America Strong! Bush/Cheney 2004
lesopp

join:2001-06-27
Land O Lakes, FL

1 edit

Re: I don't get it...

I agree! If they are really loosing money on regulatory costs, then let them build it into their product prices and prove it to the regulatory agencies. I suspect the reason they haven't gone this route is they can't justify their claims.

Maybe the fee is to pay for their failed litigation, failed attempts to buy politicians and their anti regulation commercials.

footballdude
Premium
join:2002-08-13
Imperial, MO

Re: I don't get it...

said by lesopp:
If they are really loosing money on regulatory costs, then let them build it into their product prices and prove it to the regulatory agencies.
You ever try to prove something to an uninterested government lackey?

micl
Visit Lovely Downtown Port Starboard
Premium
join:2001-10-25
Silver Spring, MD
said by lesopp:

Maybe the fee is to pay for their failed litigation, failed attempts to buy politicians and their anti regulation commercials.

I would agree that this money goes to their lawyers and lobbyists, members of congress and whoever else they buy off... but unfortunatley it hasn't "failed" them, which is why they can now get away with this crap.
--
If I don't see you in the future, I'll see you in the pasture

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO
There's nothing wrong with line items, except that they're getting added on after the advertised price.

In other words, I don't care if my "$26.95" DSL bill looks like this:

HBC Standard Bronze DSL
---------------------
Transport charge: $13.95
ISP Charge: $10.95
FUSF Fees: $1.85
Office coffee fund recovery: 0.01
Office toilet paper fund recovery: 0.02
Electricity recovery fee: $0.18
Total: $26.95

I do care if it looks like this:

HBC Standard Bronze DSL
---------------------
DSL: $26.95
FUSF Fees: $1.85
Office coffee fund recovery: 0.01
Office toilet paper fund recovery: 0.02
Electricity recovery fee: $0.18
Total: $29.01
--
\\ROB - a part of the SCB local network

borborpa
Slipping Slowly Into Oblivion
Premium
join:2002-02-20
New Cumberland, PA

Re: I don't get it...

But here's the problem, there is a base price for DSL, then fees of top of it. The telco fees vary in different areas, so you could pay less than me in fees and taxes. The ISP's can't possibly advertise the correct pricing for every area, just like the bell's don't.

If you're going to bitch about this, make sure you bitch about your telephone bill too. Verizon told me that it's $25.95 for my phone service, but I pay another $10-15 or so in fees and such. I don't see why anyone isn't complaining about that too. Have you looked at your wireless bill ever?? It's the same way.

The difference is whether or not the ISP advertises that the price is before taxes and fees or not. As long as they say they charge taxes and fees on top of the price, it's OK. If there is no mention of it until afterwards, I take issue.
--
There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.[AIM - BoyBandsMakeUGay]

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

Re: I don't get it...

What djrobx was saying (and I agree with him) is it's perfectly ok to have line items on your bill. In fact, I'd like to see where my monthly fee is coming from. But apart from sales tax, the total of the line items should be the advertised price. It shouldn't be advertised price plus some extras that we won't talk about until you get the first bill.

If they can't account for regional differences, then they should just advertise one price. Sure they would not be making as much in some markets, but in other markets they would be making much more.

And I do resent the fact that my ~$30 phone plan comes to ~$45 before I make a single call. I think the phone companies should be required to follow this as well.
--
-Jason Levine
http://www.jasons-toolbox.com/
http://www.PCQandA.com/
http://www.urateit.com/
zmike2

join:2004-02-16
92680
DSL: $26.95
FUSF Fees: $1.85
Office coffee fund recovery: 0.01
Office toilet paper fund recovery: 0.02
Electricity recovery fee: $0.18
phone sevice $28.01
Total: $57.02

cable 44.95 Frichen the phone sevice. get cell
kinneyr2

join:2002-01-24
Carlsbad, CA
said by djrobx:
There's nothing wrong with line items, except that they're getting added on after the advertised price.

In other words, I don't care if my "$26.95" DSL bill looks like this:

HBC Standard Bronze DSL
---------------------
Transport charge: $13.95
ISP Charge: $10.95
FUSF Fees: $1.85
Office coffee fund recovery: 0.01
Office toilet paper fund recovery: 0.02
Electricity recovery fee: $0.18
Total: $26.95

I do care if it looks like this:

HBC Standard Bronze DSL
---------------------
DSL: $26.95
FUSF Fees: $1.85
Office coffee fund recovery: 0.01
Office toilet paper fund recovery: 0.02
Electricity recovery fee: $0.18
Total: $29.01

Reminds me of buying a car ... you have the MSRP price, the sticker price, the invoice price, rebate price, ... etc. Then you have out the door price, which includes sales tax, license tax, extended warranty, etc.

Seems to me the phone company is doing business like the car business. You advertise one price ... but it is not the "out the door" price. So why don't people get equally upset with the way they buy a car as in when they buy services from the phone company?

justin
..needs sleep
Australian
join:1999-05-28
kudos:15
Reviews:
·iiNet

Re: I don't get it...

I actually do. (get annoyed about that). But car adverts are mostly placed by car companies, not by dealers, and everyone knows that every dealer has different policies/deals/extra charges.

But phone companies are totally in control of their prices, and their advertisements, the whole deal. They have no excuse.
kinneyr2

join:2002-01-24
Carlsbad, CA

Re: I don't get it...

justin "I actually do. (get annoyed about that). But car adverts are mostly placed by car companies, not by dealers, and everyone knows that every dealer has different policies/deals/extra charges.

But phone companies are totally in control of their prices, and their advertisements, the whole deal. They have no excuse. "

On the contrary, dealers do advertise. I see ads all the time on TV, newspapers, and hear ads on radio for car dealers.

I can think of lots of stuff where you don't know the "out the door" price but you go along with purchasing the product or service.

The only thing you can say about the phone company is that there is little to no competition for local service. Otherwise you would shop just like you do anything else where there is competition.

justin
..needs sleep
Australian
join:1999-05-28
kudos:15
Reviews:
·iiNet

Re: I don't get it...

The extras that car dealers don't mention are a combination of two things. One, government charges that are actually a percentage of the retail price and so need to be calculated after a price is negotiated, and two, car dealers being sleazy and adding in "delivery charges" and "undercoat" and what not.

telephone companies should not model themselves over the sleaze that is in the car industry.
kinneyr2

join:2002-01-24
Carlsbad, CA

Re: I don't get it...

said by justin:
telephone companies should not model themselves over the sleaze that is in the car industry.

Chicken and the egg ... which one came first?

Have you noticed that when you buy a product now days that the retail store wants to sell you its warranty for that product?

I went to CompUSA, Circuit City and Best Buy shopping for a modem. Each store will promote selling you a warranty. What's their warranty? They will exchange the product for another within the time of the warranty if it is defective.

Therefore warranties that use to be part of the base price and good public relations are now priced separately as an add on cost after the sale price.

That's the way of things today. What was bundled into the base price is now broken out separately and sold to you. And that is the point of looking at your telephone bill.

justin
..needs sleep
Australian
join:1999-05-28
kudos:15
Reviews:
·iiNet
wait, companies are free to put any advertisements on their bills they like:


this bill was 3 bucks more because the government charges us X Y and Z


the thing the consumer groups are rightly angry about is that the advertised price does NOT include the fees. In essence, this is FALSE ADVERTISING. Pure and simple.

n2jtx

join:2001-01-13
Glen Head, NY
said by borborpa:
So basically, he'd rather just have the companies raise prices without showing any justification for it?? I'd MUCH rather see line items, that way I know what I'm paying for! I don't want SBC charging $50 for a phone line saying "it's our price with all the taxes and stuff figured in..."
Does this then mean you prefer advertisements like this:

Unlimited Long Distance only 1¢ a month!!*

*Not including $50 recovery fee, $25 USF tax, $25 because we can fee

borborpa
Slipping Slowly Into Oblivion
Premium
join:2002-02-20
New Cumberland, PA

Re: I don't get it...

said by n2jtx:
said by borborpa:
So basically, he'd rather just have the companies raise prices without showing any justification for it?? I'd MUCH rather see line items, that way I know what I'm paying for! I don't want SBC charging $50 for a phone line saying "it's our price with all the taxes and stuff figured in..."
Does this then mean you prefer advertisements like this:

Unlimited Long Distance only 1¢ a month!!*

*Not including $50 recovery fee, $25 USF tax, $25 because we can fee

That's a bit of an extreme example. No one is paying 10,000 times the advertised price for DSL.

For reference though, a few times a month I see advertisements for Columbia House, 5 DVD's for a penny...does that mean THEY are false advertising when they charge S&H on top of that?
--
There are no stupid questions, but there are a LOT of inquisitive idiots.[AIM - BoyBandsMakeUGay]

Jason Levine
Premium
join:2001-07-13
USA

Re: I don't get it...

No, but it does border on deceptive because you need to look at the fine print to realize that after getting your 5 DVDs for a penny, you are required to buy 5 more titles from them at their inflated prices (plus their inflated shipping costs).
--
-Jason Levine
http://www.jasons-toolbox.com/
http://www.PCQandA.com/
http://www.urateit.com/

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Re: I don't get it...

said by Jason Levine:
No, but it does border on deceptive because you need to look at the fine print to realize that after getting your 5 DVDs for a penny, you are required to buy 5 more titles from them at their inflated prices (plus their inflated shipping costs).

And if you take notice, what you got to choose from isnt anything late or anything hot. usually just dud titles.
--
You can never be too rich, too thin or have too much Bandwidth
recrum

join:2002-09-10
Akron, OH

1 recommendation

Either way they're going to get their money. Whether they add it to the base service price, or include by just increasing the base price.

JakCrow

join:2001-12-06
Palo Alto, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
said by borborpa:
"Consumer advocates, like Billy Jack Gregg, director of the West Virginia Consumer Advocate Division, aren't buying it. "We don't want any better descriptions. We don't want better labeling. We want these line items banned. Let the phone companies recover all of their costs in the prices they charge for the services they offer," said Gregg."

So basically, he'd rather just have the companies raise prices without showing any justification for it?? I'd MUCH rather see line items, that way I know what I'm paying for! I don't want SBC charging $50 for a phone line saying "it's our price with all the taxes and stuff figured in..."

As for USF recovery on DSL, the Bells have been doing it for years, it was only a matter of time.

Higher prices on features or services might cause customers to drop those instead of putting up with the cost. A line item for "recovery fee" means that the customer would continue being charged no matter what services are used.

djrobx
Premium
join:2000-05-31
Valencia, CA
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·VOIPO

Don't worry, we're thinking of the customers

quote:
"I'm surprised that anyone thinking of consumers first would want to eliminate information that explains to consumers what those fees are for," says Jeffrey Nelson, a spokesman for Verizon Wireless.
Well, Jeffrey, that one's easy to explain. These fees always get tacked on without the base price being lowered to reflect its previous inclusion. For instance, some customers are stil paying the base $26.95 fee for SBC DSL. New customers who manage to wrangle the $26.95 price will still actually be paying more. If FUSF was part of the price before, why isn't the new price $24.95?

Itemize to your heart's content, but the final price is what should be advertised instead of the "base" price before fees. Otherwise DSL could become just like POTS telephone service: the actual monthly price so buried in fees that nobody will have a clue how much they're really paying until they get their first bill.
--
\\ROB - a part of the SCB local network
davebenham

join:2002-01-31
Round Lake, IL

Re: Don't worry, we're thinking of the customers

You can't really advertise the "real" price of many taxed services/products such as telephone, cable, wireless, gas, etc. The final price will vary based on the amount of the taxes, which can vary based on location and actual usage. My wireless phone bill is different each month, because the taxes vary and are calculated based on usage.

It ticks me off, but the real solution to this problem is getting rid of all those unnecessary taxes. Come on, why on earth does my wireless bill pay the government 10+ bucks each month?

justin
..needs sleep
Australian
join:1999-05-28
kudos:15
Reviews:
·iiNet

Re: Don't worry, we're thinking of the customers

You CAN advertise real prices (except sales tax - which everyone knows is added on). Where there are regional differences, and there are very few of those, the company just has to EAT IT, or raise advertised prices everywhere and MAKE A BIT EXTRA.

All national companies have operating costs that vary by state, and none of them, except telcos, feel the need to shove this cost variability into the face of the consumer and make it their problem, or increase the price per month later despite that YOU contracted with THEM to pay a certain amount per month.

Netflix: 19.95 per month! (except, well, in new york, we bill higher because our new york distribution place pays city state and local payroll taxes, and has tougher government regs, but if you live in florida, it is lower, because ... ) .. how stupid!
jne812

join:2003-10-13
Plano, TX
I don't have any problem with them adding TAX onto my bill, we all pay tax and understand it. If the fees are really Gov't mandated then I can accept those also since I know what they are for, but all of the fees that are added just to increase the telco's bottom line are the ones that I have a problem with.

Varangian

join:2002-12-08
Collinsville, IL

BREAK UP S*C

When ma Bell was broken into smaller companies it was a response to the arrogant and non responsive attitude of the company toward its customers.
It was the correct decision.
Those companies have reassembled themselves into an exploitive entity far more savage and unresponsive than Ma Bell ever was.
Once broken up this time ther needs to be an absolute prohibition on any further merging between them.
It (merging) puts people out of work and brings pointless suffering to us all.
neftv

join:2000-10-01
Broomall, PA

1 edit

those damn fees

At least two organizations seeing it the way I think.
Mark Cooper of the Consumer Federation of America and
The National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), which represents some 43 state agencies, urged the FCC to ban such "fees".

What the hell are people so brainwashed to let the companies do this. They want these fees to end up costing as much as the service itself or even more. IF such a fee is really necessary then its the cost of doing business in USA, companies that don't like it go to another country. This is the business environment we create here in USA. STOP IT WITH THE FEEs Corporate America. WAKE UP!!
Anyone that agrees to these fees then I should be allowed to charge fees back as a consumer. To me when I see these fees on my Cell bill and seeing other companies doing this it's like a slap in my face. It's like I'm being punish for something the government is doing to the companies.
rid0617

join:2003-07-20
Greer, SC

Bellsouth added fees

I started out with complete choice. Every time they added a fee I disconnected an option. They have added enough that I am now down to nothing but a dial tone. Because I'm on disability my dial tone only is $9 and some change a month. The next step is disconnect and go straight to my cell phone. It at least has all the BS options and free long distance.

asdfdfdf

@xtraport.net

False implication that usf reason for price rise?

According to dave burstein
"SBC is raising the basic DSL price to $31.87. The practice at SBC and Verizon has long been not to make USF a separate charge and include it in the fee quoted and advertised. In reality, not merely is there NO NEW USF to add, but the RATE PAID is going DOWN. Burying kickers like this in the fine print enrages customers and FCC Chair Mike Powell alike."

There is a quarterly contribution factor calculated.

»www.fcc.gov/wcb/universal_servic···ter.html

According to the wireline competition bureau release the
contribution factors for last year are as follows:
2q2004 8.7%
1q2004 8.7%
3q2003 9.5%
2q2003 9.1%

Does this not mean that the fcc/wcb is seeking no increase in usf contributions for 2nd quarter? In fact 2004 is showing a trend downward relative to 2003.

So it appears as if this increase in price is NOT a result of usf obligations, but is an attempt to raise prices while trying to reinforce in the mind of consumers the false notion that government regulation and the usf are the reasons for the price increase. They kill two birds with one stone. They get a price increase and they simultaneously misleadingly propagandize for their dereg agenda.
ross7

join:2000-08-16

Re: False implication that usf reason for price ri

said by asdfdfdf:
...So it appears as if this increase in price is NOT a result of usf obligations, but is an attempt to raise prices while trying to reinforce in the mind of consumers the false notion that government regulation and the usf are the reasons for the price increase. They kill two birds with one stone. They get a price increase and they simultaneously misleadingly propagandize for their dereg agenda.

Excellent post!! If you had bothered to register, I'd have given you a very much deserved "THUMBS UP".
SoCal99

join:2004-01-22

Crazy and Deceptive

If you have a fixed fee that you know you're going to charge then it must be included in the advertised price. Taxes and government fees are different as they are mandated by law and do vary by location.

This reminds me of what some car dealers here tried to due a few years ago. You would negotiate the car price and then when you went to sigh the contract you would see the negotiated car price plus the sales tax and registration fees but then they also added some dealer fees. Ex:

Car price $19,995
Sales tax $1.499
Registration $250
*Car prep fee (car wash) $50
*Admin fee (paperwork) $125
Total $21,669

So basically the dealer was raising the price of the car by $175 but not disclosing it until you were actually ready to sign the deal. And no their negotiated car price was not $175 lower than the competition.

Thankfully, there was competition and you had other options so that you could do business elsewhere and the practice ultimately when away.

As it has already been said, great, give me line item cost but if the sum of the line items are greater than the advertised price then there has been a price increase and deceptive advertising.

dvd536
as Mr. Pink as they come
Premium
join:2001-04-27
Phoenix, AZ
kudos:4

Re: Crazy and Deceptive

said by SoCal99:
Car price $19,995
Sales tax $1.499
Registration $250
*Car prep fee (car wash) $50
*Admin fee (paperwork) $125
Total $21,669

you forgot "ADP $619.00" whats adp? Additional dealer profit.
--
You can never be too rich, too thin or have too much Bandwidth

TheMadSwede
Premium
join:2001-01-30
Holland, MI

1 recommendation

Billy Jack Gregg?

Love the name. And I kinda see where he's going with his statement "We don't want any better descriptions. We don't want better labeling. We want these line items banned. Let the phone companies recover all of their costs in the prices they charge for the services they offer."

Basically, we all agree on this main issue, but disagee with how to address it.

Several of us have proposed changing the advertising. And BJG is proposing not allowing the companies to use non-tax and non-government imposed line items.

Both solutions accomplish the same feat, making the advertised price real. I actually agree with BJG that they should ban non-tax and non-government imposed line items.

I believe this because current line items are not a way to break down your bill, but rather just a way to add to it. If they were really concerned about breaking down the bill, then I'd expect to see something like this:

$0.015 - Customer Service
$0.085 - Employee Benefits
$0.025 - Gas for Service Trucks
$25.00 - Executive compensation
etc.

In closing:
•I don't care how the final price is tabulated, I care about the final price.
•The companies can disguise their line items in whatever form of legalese they want in order to confuse me.
• It's not like the fact that I know where each part of my $30 goes is going to change the fact that if I don't pay my $30 I lose the service.
--
A good idea expressed in a poor manner is a bad idea.
iffy5

join:2004-02-07
Columbus, OH

Re: Billy Jack Gregg?

Exactly, if it costs 30$ just tell me its 30$. Don't tell me its 26$ and then tack on "mandatory" fees afterwards to make it 30$.

dtbmjax

join:2001-01-03
Jacksonville, FL

I'm fed up also

Click for full size
T-Mobile has now gotten into the act. Here is a copy of my last bill from them. They're calling it a "Regualtory Programs Fee."
neftv

join:2000-10-01
Broomall, PA

Re: I'm fed up also

I don't blame you. There is a gross receipts tax that the State of PA is charging the Cell Companies doing business in PA and in turn Cingular who I use is turning that on me. It's 5%. I already pay the other fees and the state sales tax too. The Tax is really 11% plus the fees. Feels like a slap in my face like I stated in my earlier post.

PhoenixDown
FIOS is Awesome
Premium
join:2003-06-08
Fresh Meadows, NY
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

Disputing the charge on your invoice?

Has anyone successfully not paid these fee's having the company credit it or surpress it instead. I got my ATT Wireless invoice which has one of these new fees that 'isnt government mandated - just a cost we want you to pay'.

It's sickening. Taxes are taxes... I can go to the IRS and find out exactly what the taxes should be and should be the same between all carriers offering that service in that area where as USF and some these other fee's seem to change from one month to the next.
--
www.shinraonline.com

Drex
Beer...The other white meat.
Premium
join:2000-02-24
Not There
kudos:1
Reviews:
·AT&T U-Verse

Re: Disputing the charge on your invoice?

I sent an email to BellSouth asking for them to explain what these charges are. Of course I got nice little canned message explaining what the Universal Service Fund was.
I also stated in my email that I refuse to pay these "cost recovery fees" and if forced to do so, I would drop my BS DSL service.

I have since ordered high-speed Internet access from a different provider for less money and better speeds.

Goodbye Bellsouth. You've lost a 4 year customer b/c of $2.97.
--
If I got smart with you, how would you know?

nipseyrussel
Nipsey Russell, yo

join:2002-02-22
Philadelphia, PA

what about wireless commitments?

In regards to cell phones, an issue that i never see addressed in these discussions is that by adding these "fees" on top of the base "rates" your price goes up but you are still locked into your side of a contract. That’s pretty one-sided. Do I have any right to cancel my contract in this situation???

Verizon wireless recently hiked these fees in PA due to some kind of PA regulatory increase such that my total surcharges went up 412% from Dec 2003 ($1.00/month) to February (to $5.12). I haven’t bothered to dig up my Verizon contract yet, but I assume that I am still locked into the contract event though they have changed how much i pay.

FYI, I e-mailed verizon and their response was:

Pennsylvania has implemented yet another tax on wireless companies that will lead to an increase in the cost of obtaining your wireless services. Next month, we will begin collecting a Pennsylvania Gross Receipts Surcharge of 5.26% in order to recover our costs associated with this new tax. This surcharge will appear in the Other Charges and Credits portion of your bill as the item labeled PA Gross Receipts Surcharge. This surcharge is our charge. If you have questions or concerns about the new tax on wireless companies, please let your voice be heard and contact the office of the Governor or your State Senator or Representative

koitsu
Premium,MVM
join:2002-07-16
Mountain View, CA
kudos:23

1 edit

Reminds me of online commerce.

This entire situation reminds me of online vendors such as Comp-U-Plus, who for many years claimed they had the lowest prices on the 'net for computer hardware -- and they did -- but would then shock you with shipping/handling fees which were through the roof (i.e. 4x more than they should've been).

Back to DSL though -- I would love to see these fees EXPLAINED. Just like how I'd love to understand why I pay a USF tax on my copper as well as a USF tax for my DSL service. The USF tax doesn't apply to non-voice-services (I got into a huge skirmish with Speakeasy about this, charging me USF taxes on my SDSL line). I contacted the FCC via phone about all of this, and they stated a) it's not supposed to work that way, and b) Covad has quite a few pending complaints against them for such behaviour.

It's getting to the point where every penny counts. I pay US$69.95/month for just DSL service (after fees/taxes, somewhere around US$74), combined with a monthly telephone bill of US$39.95 (after fees/taxes, around US$48). Do the math -- all for 1.5/384.

Oh, and if you think taxes aren't crazy, try this.
--
Making life hard for others since 1977.
nasadude

join:2001-10-05
Rockville, MD

a lot of you missing the point

I could give a crap how my bill is broken out; I thought the main issue here is the fact that some of these new fees HAVE NO BASIS for being charged. The companies doing it have just come up with a nifty new way to charge more money and blame it on "government regulation".

somebody mentioned their wireless bill had a new "regulatory recovery fee" - there is no such fee imposed by the government. Ask the company what regulation imposes this fee.

it was also mentioned that the actual USF charge has been going down, not up, yet the phone companies keep increasing this fee on their bills.

Ain't monopolies grand? And the FCC is trying like hell to keep it that way.
mythology
Premium
join:2002-10-16
Seneca, SC

Re: a lot of you missing the point

whats next? "buy the CEO`s a new car fee"

dilettante

join:2002-01-01
Haslett, MI
A suspicious person might wonder if this is all just as politically motivated as it is profit motivated.
explorer4x4

join:2001-10-25
Ashland, WI

Here's a thought

I'm on my way home and stop at the local store for a pack of gum. I pick up a pack of gum listed for .50 cents (advertized) and head to the counter to pay for it. I figure .50 plus tax, so something like .53 cents or so right. Anyway it's my turn, I put the gum on the counter and the clerk rings it in. I have my $1.00 ready to pay and the clerk says $2.05. I say that this is a .50 item. The clerk says yes but we need to cover the extra costs / fees. I say what fees and he says to look on the counter to my left. I look and there's a notice posted there ( in fine print ), saying they collect extra, on top of your purchase for shoplifting loss, lights, business phone etc. The clerk says that the notice was there for the customer to read before I made a purchace with them, it's not his fault I didn't read it. Then the clerk says that he rang in the sale so I need to pay $2.05 and I can't back out of the sale.

It's a scary thought but could this be next?

Running a business you figure in the costs, lights, taxes, extra taxes on business phone, etc, etc into the price. One quarter your + on profit, the next your - and you adjust. There's no i'm going to make xxx profit this quarter and my operating expenses I'll tack on to the bill.

I love reading message boards,reading up on peoples views, getting tips, giving tips but something missing is pro-active writing. We can sit here day after day talking about things we feel aren't right but where does that lead to. More talking?¿? We need ways to change things we believe aren't right, right? We need more links to gov websites, phone numbers to complain, etc. We need to let the people in charge of making changes know that people like us are tired of big business making up how the rules are written. Not all will follow or understand my thinking here but if a few would post links for the rest to follow to complain maybe the law makers may start to listen.
Just my .02 cents.
--
»americasarmy.com Do you have what it takes.My choice weapon * M24 * Bridge Crossing, You'll find me there, or will I find you first ExplorerSport
thrunner

join:2004-04-05
Atlanta, GA

Complain to your Public Service Commision (PSC)

I think to get any reaction, you need to complain to your elected representatives and/or the local public service commision.

In Georgia, it is:
»www.psc.state.ga.us/

You can file the complaint online.

Louis W

@129.33.x.x

Verizon shareholder proposes elimination of fees

In the Verizon Proxy Statement for 2004 at

»investor.verizon.com/financial/quarter..

Check out Item 11 on the proxy card, summarized below:

Mr. Raymond W. Nolte, 420 Charles St., Keller, TX 76248, owner of 246 shares of the Company's common stock, proposes . . . that Verizon stop the "abhorrent practice
of charges for the charities listed as (1) Federal Universal Svc Fee; (2) Texas Universal Svc Fee; (3) Number Service Portibility Fee"

The proposal also mentions that "In at least one case, long distance service has been disconnected for non-payment of these charitible charges".

Might this mean that if you just don't pay those charges, Verizon will continue your local service uninterrupted?

Louis W

@129.33.x.x

Re: Verizon shareholder proposes elimination of fees

I called Verizon (Maryland) and they removed the USF fee of $.51/month with no questions asked. They said that I won't have LD service any longer, but that's okay with me, since I use my wireless phone for all LD calls.

bckellydotcom

@net1607.fl.sprint-hs

Big Biz and da Bush Boyz

C'mon folks, this is just another example of how dem Bush Boyz and their Big Biz Buddies are screwing us all. The FCC (or any other Government Entity under *control* of the Administration/Executive Branch) doesn't care since they're working FOR the Big Biz Guys, not us. The current Congress is no different. AND, forget the Supremes.

What's going on is probably similar to the report 60 Minutes had few weeks ago about the Medical Malpractice Insurance Industry. Where claims/payouts have gone DOWN in recent years, the premiums have gone UP to recoup loses the Industry suffered during the dot-com bust. This, more than likely, is exactally what the Communications Industry is also doing.