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Packet8 Joins 'Unfee' Trend
$1.50 'Regulatory Recovery Fee' in May
by Karl Bode 06:49PM Thursday Apr 14 2005
Like the wireless companies and landline incumbents before them, the VoIP industry has slowly succumbed to adding "regulatory recovery fees" to their bills. These aren't official government mandated fees, they're simply rate hikes disguised as fees so you'll blame Uncle Sam instead of the company responsible. Packet8 is the latest to employ this tactic, and will begin adding a $1.50 regulatory recovery fee on your bills effective May 1.

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Unreal111

join:2004-01-21
Minneapolis, MN

oh man

oh crap.

whileitlasted

@optonline.net

Re: oh man

Oh well, I hope you people didn't get attached to your voip numbers, you may well have to bend over for $1.50 or find another voip provider. I guess the customer service reps in india wanted a pay raise!

derrick2005

@tmodns.net
They can take the 1.50 and stick-it. I wasn't born with that number...for God sake, they're just digits...I am going to dump them (is the principle not the money) !

p8user4now

@comcast.net
my e to p8 billing and customer service follows
________________________________________________

The cost complying with inquiries and obligations imposed by federal, state and municipal regulatory bodies/governments and the related legal and billing expenses??

Give me a break. The FCC said back in November that you guys couldn't be regulated by the states.

ÒBy a 5-0 vote, the FCC said Internet-based phone service, called voice-over-Internet protocol or VoIP, should be free to grow without a "patchwork" of regulations put in place by 50 states and the District of Columbia.Ó - »www.vonage-forum.com/article1380.html »www.vonage-forum.com/article1380.html

ItÕs not like you even have a big fight on your hand over this.

"Support in Congress for the FCC's position on VOIP reaches across party lines, partly because anyone around the world can offer the service and customers can use it anywhere." -»www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-p···set=true

So drop the fee or you will find your customers dropping you.

-posted at - »Packet8 Joins 'Unfee' Trend and any other VOIP blog or board I can find. Word of mouth works both ways.

sirsloop
Premium
join:2004-02-18
New York, NY

what is that for again

plz explain to me where the law is that states VoIP companies need to charge these fees?

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: what is that for again

There is no law. It is an entirely bogus official sounding fee, created by companies who feel they are due cash because regulatory guidelines are so unfair....

Actually that was the bells reason. VoIP providers are now doing it because, well, they can....not researching, you'll blame uncle sam for what's essentially a rate hike.
Nightwchtr

join:2001-09-10
Centreville, VA

Re: what is that for again

And that is why I wont move over to VOIP, If my wife did no have her own business and some other stuff I get rid of my Land line aswell. Right now its just bear naked phone service.

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL
said by Karl Bode:

There is no law. It is an entirely bogus official sounding fee, created by companies who feel they are due cash because regulatory guidelines are so unfair....

Actually that was the bells reason. VoIP providers are now doing it because, well, they can....not researching, you'll blame uncle sam for what's essentially a rate hike.
That's a pretty one sided view of it.
The other side (the communications industry) of the story is that they are passing the universal service charge that the FCC bills them on to the consumer.
The problem is that all back end company facing fees should be passed on to the consumer via their monthly charges like normal. By passing it on a separate fee that can advertise $xx.xx dollars a month and then charge you extra fees (such as the USC) on the side and never advertise the extra $$.
--
"Boys are girls" - Laura Bush
»www.cafepress.com/maxolasersquad

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

4 edits

Re: what is that for again

quote:
he other side (the communications industry) of the story is that they are passing the universal service charge that the FCC bills them on to the consumer.
If that were really true they'd include it with official USF fees already on user bills. By not doing so, that money essentially gets dumped in the coffers to do with as they like. It's a rate hike, regulation is the excuse for it.

Your second reason is accurate, it's a way of obscuring price hikes in adverts....but again, it's not a fee. And even if you could prove that money was going toward regulatory costs (good luck), it should be included in official fees, or included in the overall cost.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but Packet8 isn't paying directly into the USF system, so their use of these fees is even more misleading....they are largely unregulated.

seattlesam

@comcast.net
p8 even says this is not to recover any fees charged by the government.

the fcc has ruled that state and local governments can NOT regulate VOIP providers - which make thier claim that they are charging this fee to offset the cost of "complying with inquiries and obligations imposed by federal, state and municipal regulatory bodies/governments and the related legal and billing expenses" pure bullshit.

i suggest everyone call p8 and schedule your service termination agreement for 5//1/05. Tell them to give you a call if they change thier mind about this additional fee.
Pony99CA

join:2004-09-05
Hollister, CA
I hate fees as much as the next guy, but let's not get bent out of shape that a business is trying to recover government-mandated costs.

I assume this "regulatory recovery fee" is intended to recover money the company pays to the government. While the government may not require the company to pass the fee on to the customer, why do people expect the company to just eat the fee? In fact, I'd almost rather see the fee itemized and know about it than just see my monthly service increase by $1.50.

Think of it like sales tax. Businesses are not required to collect sales tax from their customers. They are required to pay sales tax to the government, though, and they simply pass that fee to the customer. People don't like sales tax, but they don't claim that it's fraudulent, either.

A business could choose to simply increase their prices and then advertise that they didn't charge sales tax. Would that make you happier?

Maxo
Your tax dollars at work.
Premium,VIP
join:2002-11-04
Tallahassee, FL

Re: what is that for again

I don't expect the company to just eat the fee. But it should be included in the monthly cost. The thing is that companies advertise something like, "Phone line for just $29.99/month" but it's actually $29.99/month + taxes + USC + fee x + fee z = $39.99/month.
If I delivered apples from point a to point b I wouldn't advertise, "Apple delivery $5 per round trip." then send out a bill that says:
Round trip X 2 $10
Taxes X $1.19
Gas $2
Truck wear and tear $1
Total: $18.19

Instead I would advertise, "Apple delivery $8 per round trip." This way the consumer knows what they are paying for before they choose. By putting those recovered cost else where they are being less than honest in their advertising.
--
"Boys are girls" - Laura Bush
»www.cafepress.com/maxolasersquad
Pony99CA

join:2004-09-05
Hollister, CA

Re: what is that for again

said by Maxo:

I don't expect the company to just eat the fee. But it should be included in the monthly cost. The thing is that companies advertise something like, "Phone line for just $29.99/month" but it's actually $29.99/month + taxes + USC + fee x + fee z = $39.99/month.
So you really don't want it included in the monthly cost, but in the advertised price. I agree that companies should do that, but it's not that easy. For example, if a company charges a fee that's based on usage, you can't really calculate that ahead of time. Also, for national advertising, those fees may vary from state to state, so the company would have to create 50 ads. That's why most of these companies have fine print in their ads (or really fast disclaimers on radio or TV ads).

Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see better full disclosure of fees. I hate calling a hotel and asking what their nightly rate is, being told $100 per night, and then finding out on checkout that I owe $112.50 because of the 11% transient tax and the $1.50 phone charge (even if I didn't use their phones). They should be required to disclose those charges as part of the price, but I do like seeing them spelled out on my bill instead of just being included in the cost.

nemo2

@adelphia.net

Re: what is that for again

They are a VOIP provider there are NO government fees they have to pay so this entire discussion is mute. The fee is not to cover any fee it is to cover supposed inquiries being made about the possibility of charging fees. Essentially it's a load of bull.

p8user4now

@comcast.net
here is my e to p8 over this issue.

The cost complying with inquiries and obligations imposed by federal, state and municipal regulatory bodies/governments and the related legal and billing expenses??

Give me a break. The FCC said back in November that you guys couldn't be regulated by the states.

ÒBy a 5-0 vote, the FCC said Internet-based phone service, called voice-over-Internet protocol or VoIP, should be free to grow without a "patchwork" of regulations put in place by 50 states and the District of Columbia.Ó - »www.vonage-forum.com/article1380.html »www.vonage-forum.com/article1380.html

ItÕs not like you even have a big fight on your hand over this.

"Support in Congress for the FCC's position on VOIP reaches across party lines, partly because anyone around the world can offer the service and customers can use it anywhere." -»www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-p···set=true

So drop the fee or you will find your customers dropping you.

-posted at - »Packet8 Joins 'Unfee' Trend and any other VOIP blog or board I can find. Word of mouth works both ways.
cruster

join:2003-07-07
Midland, MI

Re: what is that for again

I'll tell you (not you specifically, but the generic 'you') right now that if you think sending an email (or even snail mail) to sales, billing or support is going to solve anything, you are wrong.

If you want to get the attention of a company, the most effective tactic is to initiate a conversation with their Investor Relations department. Publicly traded companies do not care about prospective (and sometimes even existing!) customers. They *do* care about prospective investors. I had a huge issue with SBC and support refused to deal with me. I looked up the VP of Investor Relations and pretty soon I had the email address of SBCs Global President of something-or-other, his assistant, and a bunch of others all the way down to the guy who manages the local field techs (gotta love execs who don't use BCC). Within days the problem was diagnosed and a solution offered. I didn't take it, but that's another story.

In the case of 8x8, Inc., Investor Relations go through:

Joan Citelli
408-687-4320
jcitelli@8x8.com

As a prospective investor (yes, I do invest, so that is not a lie), I have sent her a nice email outlining why I was interested in 8x8, Inc. as an investment vehicle and why the 'regulatory recovery fee' tactic has soured my opinion of their long-term viability as an innovator in the VoIP marketplace. These are things that publicly traded companies understand. I have (unfortunately, too) many years of experience in pursuing satisfaction from companies to think that 8x8, Inc. will respond any differently than, say, SBC did above. It may take more letters than mine, however, to convince them that pulling a regular cost of doing business out of the monthly fee and couching it in pseudo-official sounding terms is a BadThing(tm).

HTH. HAND.

MxxCon

join:1999-11-19
Brooklyn, NY

1 edit

more bad publicity please

i think even stronger negative press/article will make any good company reconsider such bastard tactics
--
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ColdFiltered

join:2005-01-25
Atlanta, GA

Re: more bad publicity please

said by MxxCon:

i think even stronger negative press/article will make any good company reconsider such bustard tactics
Bustard?
NoOneButMe

join:2001-08-24
TX

Im getting Voip and AINT useing thease............

guys EVER

Irun Man
Spartan up
Premium
join:2002-10-18
Walden, NY

It was only a matter of time

Vonage has been charging the same fee from the get-go when I signed on in March 2004.

Having VoIP is STILL WAY CHEAPER than POTS voice service and is otherwise tax free. The USF is a nuisance, but after over a year of very reliable service I may NEVER go back to a POTS line.
NoOneButMe

join:2001-08-24
TX

Re: It was only a matter of time

Dont know man i might not go with Vonage thats who i was looking at goin with

MxxCon

join:1999-11-19
Brooklyn, NY

1 recommendation

but the whole idea was to dump POTS so you pay exactly what is on the sticker.

now you have to pay sales taxes + 'regulatory fee' + blatant lie about unlimited minutes plans.

less and less reason to go with voip
--
[Sig removed by Administrator: Signature can not exceed 20GB]

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

Makes VoIP even more Useless

The closer that the price of VoIP service gets to that of traditional telegraph service, the more customers they will lose. Don't VoIP companies know that their only appeal whatsoever is low prices?
--
Hey Fast Eddie... you're next!
NoOneButMe

join:2001-08-24
TX

Re: Makes VoIP even more Useless

ya i dont think thay see that i was thinking of goin to Voip but whats the point i use my cell phone for long dist... so i dont need all that stuf when it gets to the same price why switch
Pdj79

join:2005-04-15
Fishers, IN
You know, I can understand all the hate if they were tacking on $10 for the "fee", but its $1.50. Sure, I know the retorts will be "Why stop there? They'll just keep raising it." but that's contrary to what they've done thus far. Vonage actually dropped their price to remain at the top of the pack, and as it's been mentioned before they've had the "fee" from the get-go. You naysayers can keep your POTS, I'm free from SBC's clutches, with their over-bloated prices and shoddy customer support. For those seriously considering Vonage (I use) or any other VOIP for that matter, do it. With as much competition that exists, we won't be seeing huge price increases any time soon. You know, you can be a hater if its justified, but don't go off the deep-end just because someones decided to play catch-up with the rest of the providers. It's only a matter of time before Packet8 raises their rates to be more in line with what the "heavy-hitters" charge, especially since Packet8 still has a long way to go as far as exposure and commercial viability is concerned (all the tech sites whore themselves for Vonage...where's Packet8's love?).

envoid

join:2002-12-21
Duluth, GA

This isn't fraud?

Aren't disguising charges fraud? Even with the Bells and ISP's doing this?

Karl Bode
News Guy
join:2000-03-02
kudos:39

Re: This isn't fraud?

By any sane, non-financially motivated person's standards, yes.

I believe that's the FCC napping over there.....

ColdFiltered

join:2005-01-25
Atlanta, GA

Re: This isn't fraud?

Actually, I bet the FCC doesn't give a rats _ss.
systems2000
What? You Say It's Fixed. Hah

join:2001-11-29
Cyberspace

Re: This isn't fraud?

Mismanagement and fraud of USF

»E-Rate Scandal Continues

»E-Rate Program Taking Heat

»U.S. Broadband Failings a Myth?

»www.nwfusion.com/columnists/2005···son.html

»www.cagw.org/site/Search?query=%···&inc=100
--
Personal Theme Song:RUSH - Mystic Rythms from Power Windows.
Rush Radio Website -- WinAmp Stream 24/7
cbrain

join:2000-05-21
Silver Spring, MD
Reviews:
·Comcast
·DIRECTV
·Future Nine Corp..
·DSL EXTREME
·Verizon FiOS
·Google Voice
said by envoid:

This isn't fraud?
Aren't disguising charges fraud? Even with the Bells and ISP's doing this?
I guess it depends on how well it's done.

digiblur
Premium
join:2002-06-03
Louisiana

VoicePulse doing just the opposite

The past couple of months VoicePulse actually stopped charging taxes.

dcurrey
Premium
join:2004-06-29
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable
·Cincinnati Bell
·ViaTalk

More fees

Now that they have added the Regulatory Recovery fee what is next.

Sip Server Connect fee
Backbone Interconnect Fees
Voip to POTS Packet conversion fees
E911 Access Fee (Wait P8 already has that)
blah
blah
blah

Its going to get as bad as the Bells

ec

The Beer
I Love It When A Plan Comes Together
Premium
join:2001-07-24
Atlantic, IA

Re: More fees

Universal Packet Transmission Fund
Socket recovery fee
Digital Conversion Fee (Just like how they use to charge for touch tone service, now it's for converting digital to analog)
Wireless number portability fee

insomniac84

join:2002-01-03
Schererville, IN

Gov needs to require all fees in advertised prices

Until then the consumer is being abused.

tc1uscg

join:2005-03-09
Clinton Township, MI

Treat them as a RBOC or CLEC?

Right now, ISP's and VoIP providers are skirting around regulation. But I'm sorry, as soon as they start charging fees just like regular TELCO's, the FCC should step in, regulate and treat them like a regular telco. Something the ISP's do not want to happen and I'm sure VoIP carriers (at least most) do not want to happen. pkt8 will only understand one form of backlash. Churn. When people start jumping ship, 2 things will happen. They will stop the fee's or shut down. From all the bitch'n I've seen about them, I would say the later would be best. JMO
stridr69

join:2003-05-19
San Luis Obispo, CA

Pay'in twice?

Think about it. Why have VOiP, if you already have a wireless/landline phone if RRF comes into play. Unfortunately, these folks CAN do this-and Joe/Jane Public pays for it in the end.
I'm wait'in here for my cable co. to initiate these fees for HSI service-it's not a question of if, but when.
"regulatory recovery fees"= cash cows. Period.
Buncha crooks, IMHO

ColdFiltered

join:2005-01-25
Atlanta, GA

They see their future death!

They know that in a year or two they will be completely unable to compete with RBOC and cableco offered VoIP services as these future competitiors have better control of the WAN from a QoS perspective and in growing fight by ISPs to restrict SIP traffic will lead to a decline in ROI.

Sticking their hands in the evil cookie jar places them right up there with what was deemed all bad by the RBOCs. Packet8 should just call themselves Evil8. I'm glad this came out before I bought into their crap.
jbskaggs

join:2004-10-15
Hickory, NC

Big Deal

I dont know how many of you we with a pots provider, I am sure most of you were. I was paying $50.00 a month. That is with just LD access.... Come on lets think price I pay $22.00 now, with taxes. Thats over half. I think I am saving money. OR am I wrong?

WhyADuck
Premium
join:2003-03-05
kudos:1

Re: Big Deal

That's not the point - the point is that a company that advertises one price but is charging another is committing consumer fraud and is engaging in false advertising. The fact that they may be cheaper than some of their competition is not a defense. You wouldn't like it if your local supermarket advertised a gallon of milk for $1.50, then when you got to the cash register tacked on an unannounced 50 cent "Mad Cow Disease Testing Fee" or some such nonsense. Even if they were still a few cents cheaper then the gallon of milk at the store next door, it wouldn't be quite the bargain you'd envisioned, and it WOULD be false advertising. That is the issue here.

And let us not forget, Packet8 is the company that recently tried to force a customer off their unlimited plan because they felt the customer's usage was too high. So it seems that Packet8 thinks that they can put any old thing they want in their advertising as long as it looks good to potential customers, but then bury the real deal (which is not so sweet) with unmentioned fees, and language in the Terms and Conditions. They are not the only company that has ever done this but it is a practice that I wish the FTC would take notice of, because it makes it nearly impossible for customers to do a fair comparison of the plans offered by the various providers when some (like VoicePulse) are totally honest and upfront about their plans and their pricing, while others (like Packet8 and at least a couple others) apparently are not so much.
xrobertcmx
Premium
join:2001-06-18
Sterling, VA

Sunrocket

Sunrocket just charges $199.00 period, for one year. They don't include any fees or taxs outside of the amount charged.
--
4 More years and we won't have a country.