AT&T has been engaging in a lot of nickel-and-diming behavior of late that's normal for an anti-competitive giant, but a little odd for a company trying to sell regulators on their $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. After imposing some of the lowest caps and highest rates in the wireless industry, 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. Now according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer
, AT&T has added a new $2-a-month "minimum use" fee to traditional landline users (all six of you left) who don't use enough long distance for AT&T's liking:
AT&T has added a new $2-a-month "minimum use" fee to the phone bills of landline customers who don't have long-distance calling plans. In other words, customers who rarely, if ever, make long-distance calls are the ones most likely to pay the fee. Those customers can avoid the fee, a company spokeswoman said, as long as they make at least $2 worth of long-distance calls a month.
Imposing obnoxious fees at every opportunity certainly isn't new (check out the real obnoxious fee experts in the banking industry
). Neither is this particular effort, since Verizon started imposing a fee like this back in 2007
. Still, you'd expect AT&T to tone this stuff down slightly
while trying to convince regulators on how fantastic the T-Mobile deal would be for the public. AT&T's total unwillingness to rein this behavior down in any of their business sectors suggests that the company knows full well that they'll get T-Mobile deal approval. Given AT&T has contributed more to political campaigns than any corporation since 1989 suggests they're probably right.
The T-Mobile deal aside, nickel and diming a declining userbase doesn't do AT&T any favors. Landline service is inexpensive to provide, and pissing off a contingent that's already fleeing to cable VoIP alternatives in droves is the kind of logic only found in phone company board rooms. You can only imagine the kind of new and "innovative" fees Verizon and AT&T will concoct with an 80% wireless industry market share.