Check your bill: AT&T adds new 'administrative fee' to wireless bills

By on May 24, 2013, 7:30 AM
att, wireless, money, wireless bill

If you’re an AT&T customer and you recently noticed an increase in your wireless bill as I did, you aren’t alone. As of May 1, 2013, the carrier began tacking on an administrative fee of $0.61 per line for all consumers currently under contract. The new fee can be seen on your wireless bill below the service charges in the same area where taxes and other surcharges are listed.

As The Wall Street Journal points out, $0.61 may not sound like much money – and it isn’t on an individual basis – but when you add that fee across every wireless account, it adds up very quickly. In fact, it could result in an extra half-billion dollars in annual revenue for the telecom.

A spokesperson for the wireless provider said the new charges are in line with similar fees charged by other service providers. The funds will be used to help cover things like cell site rental fees, maintenance and interconnection. Customers were reportedly given 30 days notice regarding the fee and details about it will be included on each bill.

Not everyone agrees with the “below-the-line” tactic, named that because fees like this typically appear below the services portion on a wireless bill. Derek Turner, research director at Free Press, said the fee is nothing more than a way for carriers to stealthily increase their prices.

Senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge John Bergmayer blamed a lack of competition in the telecom market as well as regulators that allow companies to impose these types of fees. "Imagine if McDonald’s advertised hamburgers for 75 cents, but then required you pay a $3 bun fee," Bergmayer said. At the time of writing the Federal Communications Commission had declined to comment when asked about the new fees.




User Comments: 13

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Guest said:

Why aren't these CEOs taken to jail..?

I am going to start charging my CC company mailing fee's, for my usage of having to pay them moAr.

My end-user processing fee, for the added work on my end...

MilwaukeeMike said:

Senior staff attorney at Public Knowledge John Bergmayer blamed a lack of competition in the telecom market as well as regulators that allow companies to impose these types of fees. "Imagine if McDonald?s advertised hamburgers for 75 cents, but then required you pay a $3 bun fee," Bergmayer said.

This analogy must make sense to this guy because he's a lawyer. If you wanted to be accurate, it would be like McDonald's advertising burgers for 75 cents and then adding on a fee of $.0045 or less than half a cent. That's the percentage of a 61 cent fee based on your average smartphone bill of $100. If a $3 fee on a 75 cent item were compared to a cell phone bill off $100 then it would be a fee of $400.

I believe this is what other lawyers call 'fuzzy math'. And this guy is a Senior Staff attorney at Public Knowledge?! He ought to talk his buddy over at the office of Common Sense before opening his mouth.

3DCGMODELER 3DCGMODELER said:

This sucks..... dangit I am switching..

dotVezz said:

I left AT&T for T-Mobile, and I'm not looking back.

Unlimited data (and unlimited everything else, but I only care about data) for $70/mo at T-Mo makes me a very happy customer. Not to mention the two times I called customer service, they were fast and super-friendly.

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

What puzzles me is whether this is an "increase" which lets me cancel without penalty and move to another vendor or is stipulated in such a way that this is not an option. Then the question to the FCC might be 'if not, why not?'.

Fbarnett Fbarnett said:

What puzzles me is whether this is an "increase" which lets me cancel without penalty and move to another vendor or is stipulated in such a way that this is not an option. Then the question to the FCC might be 'if not, why not?'.

I doubt it. This happened at sprint a few years back and they had to let people out of contracts if they wanted. I am sure that all the wireless companies reworded their contracts to say they can do what ever they want when they want. And it is in the fine print somewhere that we agreed to

Cycloid Torus Cycloid Torus said:

I doubt it.

Maybe so, but my own experience has been that the regulators do some good. As a consumer there are pretty good protections, even if a contract says not...my understanding is that contracts written solely by the provider have little effect if the protected rights contradict. IANAL

p51d007 said:

50 bucks a month for straight talk....yeah, the coverage might have a few dead spots for me, but for what I use, it's perfect. Now that I've heard they no longer offer at&t sims, I'll keep it as long as I can.

Guest said:

They should call it an AT7T lobbyist fee. A fee that helps them pay for lobbyist to screw you more often. I saw a while back that more Senators owned AT&T than any other stock. Good luck getting their help on this one.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If you didn't know that AT&T were crooks who overcharge, maybe you'll pay attention now?

veLa veLa said:

I think this has convinced me to switch from AT&T to Boost or Virgin. Sure I have to deal with using Sprint's mediocre network, but at least it's only $55 a month for unlimited everything.

Fbarnett Fbarnett said:

I am switching to TING . I was with sprint for 15 years my contract is up since yesterday I am going to save 120.00 per month for the same service. I don't have 4g here in Toledo so I don't care I use my pc for that stuff anyways. I think a lot of these little start ups are going to gain some ground.

Guest said:

Made the switch from ATT to Tmobiles prepaid. $30/month for unlimited data (up to 5GB) and unlimited text, 100min talk (.10cents /min afterwards). Coverage is fine in large cities but rural areas coverage is spotty (Edge) or no signal. Will not be going back to ATT anytime soon.

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