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AT&T The Almighty Buck

AT&T Quietly Adds Charges To All Contract Cell Plans 338

Posted by Soulskill
from the fee-added-because-reasons dept.
guttentag writes "The Wall Street Journal is reporting that AT&T Mobility, the second-largest wireless carrier in the U.S., has added a new monthly administrative fee of 61 cents to the bills of all of its contract wireless lines as of May 1, a move that could bring in more than a half-billion dollars in annual revenue to the telecom giant. An AT&T spokeswoman said the fee covers 'certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell-site rents and maintenance.' The increased cost to consumers comes even though AT&T's growth in wireless revenue last year outpaced the costs to operate and support its wireless business. The company has talked of continuing to improve wireless profitability. Citigroup analyst Michael Rollins noted that the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year. He said the fee should add 0.30 of a percentage point to AT&T's 2013 revenue growth; he predicts total top-line growth of about 1.5%. Normally, consumers could vote with their wallets by taking their business elsewhere. AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge,' effectively forcing millions of people to either pay more money per month or pay the ETF."
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AT&T Quietly Adds Charges To All Contract Cell Plans

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  • Surcharge (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rwise2112 (648849) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:53AM (#43811383)

    AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge'

    I love the way there's always a loophole!

    • by bobthesungeek76036 (2697689) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:55AM (#43811409)

      AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge'

      I love the way there's always a loophole!

      It's the American way!!!

    • by msauve (701917) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:58AM (#43811433)
      Hey, ATT, I'm calling this paper bag full of shit, a "payment."
    • Re:Surcharge (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Shavano (2541114) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:58AM (#43811435)

      AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge'

      I love the way there's always a loophole!

      There's not. This is blatantly illegal and a breach of contract.

      • Re:Surcharge (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lithdren (605362) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:04AM (#43811473)

        While true in theory, what ends up happening is you call to cancle because of the breach of contract, and you get yelled at and treated badly by their 'customer service' for 3-4 hours as you escilate up the chain trying to terminate your now null and void contract without paying the ETF, over 61 cents a month.

        Most people will just cave and either switch once the plan is over, or not bother switching at all, because the hassel of getting these jerks to do what is legal and right will end up costing you half a days wage when you take them to small-claims court to get it overturned by a judge because they dont even bother showing up in court.

        Oh but dont worry, if you DONT pay the ETF and ignore it, they'll send you to collections, where when you dispute the charge, will get added to your credit rating and affect you for the next 10 years or 7 years or whatever the hell it is, even after you get them to agree that the charges were wrong, unless you spend even more time writing letters and sending lawsuit judgement letters to the credit agencies to get it cleaned up. Even then, might not work.

        Companies need to get slapped across the face when they pull this crud, individuals are unable to fight this kind of stuff without sacrificing more than what its going to end up costing them if they just put with it, which is of course excatly why AT&T and their kin do this kind of thing.

        • Re:Surcharge (Score:5, Informative)

          by serviscope_minor (664417) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:09AM (#43811513) Journal

          While true in theory, what ends up happening is you call to cancle because of the breach of contract, and you get yelled at and treated badly by their 'customer service' for 3-4 hours as you escilate up the chain trying to terminate your now null and void contract without paying the ETF, over 61 cents a month.

          The only time I've ever been in dispute with a phone company, I made the choice to deal with it entirely via snail mail.

          It's much quicker, since there's no frustrating wait in long queues, being put on hold, cut off or escalating to a supervisor. You can write a letter in 10 minutes, print it and mail it for a very small cost and then not worry about it until you get a reply again.

          Also, letters get the attention of other parts of the company and generally yield a much better response, in that they bother to respond in a coherent manner rather than leave the onus on you. This is because snail mail is often used (still, amazingly) for important things for which they have to respond.

          • I absolutely agree although I do get the impression you've been reading "How to win friends and influence people" :)
          • Re:Surcharge (Score:5, Interesting)

            by jittles (1613415) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:46AM (#43811825)

            This is because snail mail is often used (still, amazingly) for important things for which they have to respond.

            This doesn't surprise me at all. Why I just used snail mail on Monday to send a letter informing a management company that they were in breach of contract and that they had 7 days (by state law) to rectify the situation or they would be legally responsible for all sorts of damages, blah blah blah. Anyway. I had been calling and complaining (and even showing up in person) to said management company for 20 days and they did nothing. It wasn't until I filled out a form to file in court and sent it certified mail that they did anything. And let me tell you, they did something to rectify the breach that very day. Why? Because I had a little stamped piece of paper from the post office saying that they most certainly hand delivered my notice of breach of contract and the court system absolutely loves signed receipts. You can take your piece of paper (the one you sent, and the one you received) in and show a judge. You can't take your tier one support call into court unless you recorded it. Even then a tier 1 support person is probably not likely to get the company into as much hot water as a letter.

          • by minkie (814488)

            A good way to get the attention of somebody like a phone company is to file a complaint with your state's Public Service Commission. The PSC will forward the complaint to the company, who will have to respond officially to the PSC. If they're going to jerk you around, that's the best way to jerk them right back.

        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Monoman (8745)

          Oh yeah well if that happens then I will just let them know they are receiving a demerit each time my call is transferred. If I have to issue three demerits they will receive a citation. Four of those will result in a verbal warning and if they keep it up they will be looking at a written warning. Two of those and they will be in a world of hurt in the form of a disciplinary review, written up by me, and placed on the desk of their immediate supervisor.

        • Re:Surcharge (Score:4, Insightful)

          by tutufan (2857787) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:30AM (#43811665)

          It's not as immediate, but I maintain a "shit list" of companies that I will never deal with again (dire circumstances excepted). AT&T is already on it, and for much worse shenanigans than this.

          The important thing, though, is to have that list and follow through. Don't think that it doesn't matter. One less customer pulls cash straight off the bottom line, and there's absolutely nothing they can do to change that.

      • Yes it's illegal, but they were hoping no one would notice. AT&T is not going to like what the FTC does to them when they finally get off their butts and do what taxpayers pay them to do. I'm sure the US Govt would love an extra half billion in "fines".
      • AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge'

        I love the way there's always a loophole!

        There's not. This is blatantly illegal and a breach of contract.

        Perhaps our lawyers should have a talk with AT&T's legal office.

        On second thought, a single lawyer would probably be hopelessly outgunned against a team of lawyers who themselves wrote the loophole for the law. And the legal costs just to recover $0.61/month would be prohibitive, to say the least.

        No, a class action is the only way to go.

        Except for the "no class action" clause in the AT&T's contract.

        Well, we're screwed, then.

        I guess the only remaining argument for getting a contract-plan for wireless

        • This is what happens when companies are allowed to run rough shod over the populace. And then people on Slashdot piss and whinge when a government actually enforces the law the people want. You can't have it both ways.

          • by faedle (114018)

            What if I told you that Slashdot (like anywhere else) is made up of people, some of whom have differing opinions than the others?

          • by Laxori666 (748529)

            This is what happens when companies are allowed to run rough shod over the populace and competition into that market is arbitrarily restricted by the government.

            FTFY

        • Or, you know, you could just use a provider that isn't as evil as AT&T. There's absolutely no reason to use AT&T for anything, ever, except convenience. Sounds like that convenience just disappeared (again) so...is it time yet for everyone to drop AT&T and let them flail and fail while we watch grinning?

          • by hedwards (940851)

            Just out of curiosity, which of the other 3 providers isn't evil? Seriously, I'm really curious.

            • Just out of curiosity, which of the other 3 providers isn't evil? Seriously, I'm really curious.

              T-Mobile and Sprint didn't even get nominated for the Consumerist's Worst Company in America tournament [consumerist.com] this year. AT&T and Verizon both were nominated -- AT&T went all the way to the "Elite Eight" before being defeated by 2-time Tournament Champion EA.

              Obviously unscientific, but the contestants were nominated and voted on by disgruntled consumers, so they are representative of "how bad" these companies are.

              From a "who's best?" standpoint, in 2012 Consumer Reports ranked the majors in order: Verizon

      • Re:Surcharge (Score:4, Insightful)

        by gstoddart (321705) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:27AM (#43811639) Homepage

        There's not. This is blatantly illegal and a breach of contract.

        Sadly, that contract says they can make a lot of changes whenever they want to -- like all modern contracts, the company basically says "we can do anything and you can eat shit".

        Terms of service for a web site or a product pretty much all nowadays put the power entirely in the hands of companies to do as they please. And since corporate profits are the highest principle in the land, the courts have upheld that as perfectly fine.

        If AT&T has decided they need to pad their bottom line by tacking on a little extra surcharge .. there's not a hell of a lot you can do about it. How many of us have received letters from our cell phone companies which more or less say "in order to keep corporate profits at record levels we will be increasing your costs"?

        Nothing is illegal when you're a large company these days. And, since they've all updated their TOS to say you can't sue them in a class action suit, you don't have any recourse.

        • I knew this was true since forever (EULAs and contracts have always been over-reaching and awful), but I just recently started to take action against it. I recently canceled a phone plan and my former cable contract after I got notices that the terms had been updated, and contacted them to tell them I didn't agree to the changes. Their response was pretty much "Oh well, go somewhere else then". So I did. I now have a far cheaper, less evil cell phone plan, and my cable service has no contract or termination

          • Re:Surcharge (Score:4, Insightful)

            by gstoddart (321705) on Friday May 24, 2013 @10:29AM (#43812257) Homepage

            It's always worth finding the other option, and it's the only way these giant monopolizing bastards will ever learn: when their customers start leaving in the thousands.

            Sadly, these days it's out of the hands of one set of giant monopolizing bastards and straight into the hands of another.

            Since the big players have been steadily buying the small players, sooner or later, it's all the same people who own them. And where it's still multiple large corporations, they usually get together to agree on how to screw us over anyway.

            In many market segments, the notion of a 'free market' is a laughable joke, since it's all controlled by a few multinationals.

    • Bend over... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And this my friends is why business imposed rule (law for the average consumer since it's legally binding and generally not practical/worthwhile to fight for your average Joe) through contractual agreements that sign your rights away ( including participating in class action suits [wikipedia.org]) is a bad thing. I'd like to see consumers in mass refuse to sign agreements waiving all sorts of liabilities to businesses and rights of consumers. This will not happen and businesses are well aware of it. As such, businesses' leg

      • Re:Bend over... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by hedwards (940851) on Friday May 24, 2013 @10:19AM (#43812123)

        You can blame the courts for that. It astonishes me the complete and utter lack of common sense in the judiciary. We're not all rich enough to be able to afford an attorney every time somebody asks us to sign a contract. We don't have access to a law library to look up the precedence over whether or not they're allowed to call this a surcharge.

        At the end of the day, the law needs to recognize that people can't sign away their rights. Especially in cases like this where the only competition also requires us to sign away our rights.

    • by jittles (1613415)

      AT&T would be required to let customers out of their contracts without an early termination fee if it raised prices, but it is avoiding this by simply calling the increase a 'surcharge'

      I love the way there's always a loophole!

      The only reason this loophole works is because most people are too lazy to go through the effort required to rectify this $0.61 a month issue. Honestly, I don't blame them. If I were sufficiently interested in a problem like this (I'm not, I don't even have a cell phone contract), I would take AT&T Mobility to Small Claims court for breach of contract. I'd ask for damages and for them to pay me an early termination fee for having to deal with the headache of this issue. If thousands of customers did

      • If thousands of customers did this, I think AT&T would just remove the fee entirely.

        I don't. The most you could possibly get if you went that route would be your $0.61, and the court filing costs which, depending on where you are, could be as little as $10. If thousands of customers did it, ATT would shrug and say "ok, at least our millions of other customers didn't... the one-time cost will be paid for by the increase within a month or two".

    • AT&T are hands-down the shadiest mofos operating as a business in this world. From small print-approved snooping on your data, to no-tell-em fees that just pop up all the time, the customer's best interest is the LAST fucking thing they could care about.

      We recently cancelled our business internet/phone with them, because they were adding on all sorts of 'additional value-added services' without even asking us(totaling hundreds per month), and our bills were(without the charges from these services) more

  • by dmgxmichael (1219692) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:53AM (#43811385) Homepage
    deserves what they get. Worst Telcom in history (and that's an achievement considering how rotten all of them are.).
    • by anthony_greer (2623521) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:16AM (#43811569)

      Many of us on ATT are not stupid at all - Many are grandfathered in on really old plans that they keep letting us carry forward each cycle! I have a plan from the old Cellular One, which became Cingular which much later became ATT Wireless...why on earth would I change when my rate hasnt gone up since 2003 (with the exception of the data package added in like 06)

      I pay like $78 per month for what on ATT or VZW now costs about $120 or so - I get a new phone and sign a new contract every two years and they dont ever manke me change when my contract terms expire so...I would be nuts to NOT stay with them, right?

      • by socrplayr813 (1372733) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:35AM (#43811709)

        You can get unlimited talk, text, and data through Straight Talk or similar for less than $50 a month. Bring your AT&T phone and just buy a new SIM card, if you like (usually around $15 or less). Or if you're not overly concerned with having the fanciest phones (which these days doesn't make nearly as much difference as it did 2-3 years ago), you can get a phone on Verizon's network and possibly have better coverage.

        Yes, I think you're nuts.

        • Yes, I think you're nuts.

          Me too. Are you sure a new provider would charge that much? When was the last time you checked their plans/rates?

          I have a plan on VZW that is pretty much as loaded out as it can be, which supports several phone lines, and it doesn't even cost $120/month.

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          SIM card? What's that? I haven't seen one of those in a phone in years, over here.

          • Where is that?

            From Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GSM)

            The GSM logo is used to identify compatible handsets and equipmentGSM (Global System for Mobile Communications, originally Groupe Spécial Mobile), is a standard set developed by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) to describe protocols for second generation (2G) digital cellular networks used by mobile phones. It became the de facto global standard for mobile communications with over 80% market share.

            Also (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subscriber_Identity_Module#Usage_in_mobile_phone_standards)

            The use of SIM cards is mandatory in GSM devices.

            In the US, AT&T and T-Mobile both use GSM for their networks, so any phone that uses them (including many prepay companies) will have a SIM card.

      • I pay $100 ($117 w/ taxes and fees) for unlimited talk, text, and web on 2 phones (through Tmobile). I get 2.5 GB of high-speed data and free tethering. It is also a no-contract plan (so if they try to charge me BS fees, I can vote with my wallet). I can get a new phone and pay for the phone over 2 years so, if the phone is $480, I pay $20 per month for the next 2 years (which would bring my total to the same as yours). But, I am happy with my current phone, so I get to pay $20 per month less than you.
      • You can go to Straight Talk (Which is on AT&T network if that is important to you) and get Voice+Data at about $50. Assuming the cost of the phone is $600 every two years, this works out to $25 a month over two years. So a total of $75 a month .$3 a month cheaper and you don't have to add money if you are not using the phone at any point.
        . And when you are done with your phone after two years, you can most likely sell it one ebay for $200 or so (the phone is always unlocked).
    • by gmclapp (2834681)
      The only problem is that AT&T, like Comcast and Charter have a sort of 'geographical monopoly' for some services. I had this problem once when AT&T was my only option for internet. (barring satellite because latency on a good day can be between 900ms and 1200ms). So I had to deal with AT&T. They did suck quite frankly, but I've dealt with Comcast and they suck more for a higher price. The root problem is the lack of real competition between these companies. With the exception of Verizon, Sprint
  • by gl4ss (559668) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:54AM (#43811397) Homepage Journal

    ..which are the expenses you were supposedly paying for already.

    ditch 'em. and sue 'em for screwing the etf.

    what good is the rule, if they just add charges and still have you pay the etf?

    • ditch 'em. and sue 'em for screwing the etf.

      I agree. I'm just they're not screwing the IETF. So long as they're our bedfellows instead, we have a fighting chance.

    • I believe the words "Class Action" spring to mind :)
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        I believe the words "Class Action" spring to mind :)

        And I believe you'll find they've added terms to the contract which prohibit you from doing that, and that the courts have upheld this,.

        You have zero chance of a class action suit against them, because they already updated your terms of service to say you agree you can't do that.

        • Doesn't fly if it's not on the contract you signed. There are no contracts the court would uphold that just allow them to add provisions as they see fit, whenever they want, without even telling the customer. Many states even have their own laws against changing an already-signed contract without approval from all signing parties.

          • by gstoddart (321705)

            Doesn't fly if it's not on the contract you signed.

            Except the contract you signed says they can change things, and if you keep using it you've agreed.

            There are no contracts the court would uphold that just allow them to add provisions as they see fit, whenever they want, without even telling the customer.

            I wish that were true, and I really hope it is ... but I'm pretty sure the courts have upheld EULAs in all their hideous glory, and have upheld the inclusion of waiving your right to join a class action sui

        • by X0563511 (793323)

          How does that work once your contract is terminated?

  • How To (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:55AM (#43811403)

    And here [reddit.com] is a very succinct how to by someone who successfully ended their AT&T service sans ETF.

    (Note it still did take 2 hours)

  • Ain't it great? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 (1118935) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:55AM (#43811407) Homepage

    "the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year"

    So, have I understood this correctly? If you have a contract with them, they aren't violating it, because they aren't raising your rates. They're just adding a separate administrative fee. Reminds me of the game airlines play: your flight is cheap, but you have to pay the fees for the airports, for fuel, for your luggage, for having wings on the airplane...

    This is great for the bean-counters and marketeers, but it's unethical as hell. Why do big businesses lose their ethics? Does MBA stand for "Must Be an A**hole"?

    • At least the airlines have to advertise the full cost of a ticket (minus luggage which is legitimately an optional expense). If I go to United.com and their ad or search engine says I can fly to SF for $292 then it's going to be $292, with a base fare of maybe $240 plus fees and taxes. The phone bills are so much more frustrating because the advertised rate might be $39/mo but then you have no clue what will be added on top of that, and then they can add even more down the road.

      • If I go to United.com and their ad or search engine says I can fly to SF for $292 then it's going to be $292, with a base fare of maybe $240 plus fees and taxes.

        That's a good one.

        My last airline ticket costed me 515 Eur. That's what it was advertised for, and that's what I paid. Not out of range for a transcontinental flight. And can you imagine how my jaw dropped when I checked the passenger receipt and I saw that the price was composed from 125Eur airfare and 390Eur fees and taxes?

      • I am pretty sure there was a law passed relatively recently (maybe a year ago) that requires airlines to show the full price including all taxes and fees. Before that I remember it being quite difficult to comparison shop between airlines (because their fees, which were not shown with the price, were different).
    • by Shavano (2541114)

      "the new administrative fee is a key component for accelerating revenue growth for the rest of the year"

      So, have I understood this correctly? If you have a contract with them, they aren't violating it, because they aren't raising your rates. They're just adding a separate administrative fee. Reminds me of the game airlines play: your flight is cheap, but you have to pay the fees for the airports, for fuel, for your luggage, for having wings on the airplane...

      This is great for the bean-counters and marketeers, but it's unethical as hell. Why do big businesses lose their ethics? Does MBA stand for "Must Be an A**hole"?

      There's a big difference. When you buy an airline ticket, they tell you when you make the contract (i.e. buy the ticket) that there is an extra charge for baggage. What you agree to at the time you make the contract is part of the contract. This is not part of the contract. This is stealing.

    • Re:Ain't it great? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ATMAvatar (648864) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:06AM (#43811491) Journal

      Why do big businesses lose their ethics?

      That's rather easy to explain. Businesses never really had ethics. They're out to make money, and these kinds of situations are simple risk vs. reward calculations. The activity brings in more money, and any laws to curtail corporate misbehavior have long since been rendered toothless. The only consideration is whether customers would leave en masse, but between the early termination fees and the fact that most costumers have some pathological fear of standing up for themselves when a corporation jerks them around, that's rather unlikely.

    • Does MBA stand for "Must Be an A**hole"?

      If the holder of one went straight for it instead of having a real job then probably yes. Those who had a real degree first and then later in their careers got it so they could move into management positions probably no.

    • by microcars (708223)

      So, have I understood this correctly? If you have a contract with them, they aren't violating it, because they aren't raising your rates. They're just adding a separate administrative fee.

      If it is a separate administrative fee, tell them to bill you separately. Meanwhile, pay your normal bill.

    • That's why, in Chile, all negotiated prices are all-including. Nothing of this "plus taxes and fees" crap that can mean anything. If the advertisement says 10, then you pay 10 and anything, even taxes, should already be included. Here in the US you can only hope your bill will be what they sold you and cross your fingers. With Verizon I got fees and surcharges for 300% of the agreed price for a phone line. The amount I agreed to? It was not even in the actual bill.
  • I love this show (Score:5, Insightful)

    by paiute (550198) on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:56AM (#43811413)
    Congressperson: That's fucked up. I should introduce legislation which would allow the consumer to get out of their contract if the carrier breaks it like this.
    AT&T lobbyist: (Opens suitcase full of cash.)
    Congressperson. Free market!
    • by Sockatume (732728)

      I'm picturing the Congressperson doing the Fonzie two-thumbs-up stance in the last line there.

    • Actually, if the Congresscritter in your example was supporting the free market, they'd have stood by their initial stance. Despite the name, the "free market" isn't a synonym "companies can do whatever the hell they want". The "free market" is a place where exchanges are carried out by two parties by mutual consent. It's in contrast to the mercantile model that preceded it, where frequently you had no choice but to deal with a particular company, as the government had granted that company an exclusive char

  • Ahhh at&t (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:57AM (#43811425)

    Ok, so no kidding:

    A while back my company was trying to resolve a billing issue.

    We were under "foundation" billing. Whatever that means.

    So the customer service dude on the phone gave us a URL where we could check our "foundation" billing. In this web portal, we were able to see all the other foundation accounts bills.

    As in detailed bills of other people and companies, including call logs. There were thousands of these, all in PDF for the download. With everything you'd expect on a bill, like name, address, phone number, ammount due. I suppose anyone could have seen our bill too.

    It reminded me of the at&t ipad "hacker" case.

  • Evil Company (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @08:58AM (#43811429)

    AT&T overcharges many customers on every bill anyway. I have to call in every month to receive a credit to my account because of their business practice of overcharging and hoping customers don't notice. I've been an AT&T customer a few times over the years, and EVERY time they do this. It's not a mistake on their end, it's a deceptive business practice.

    This new "surcharge" is just the tip of the ice-berg of AT&T's deceptive business practices. I know people who work there and most of them I've spoken with actually agree with me, thought they wouldn't go so far as to call the company "evil" as much as greedy and mis-managed.

  • Just wondering... How is it possible to add a surcharge on top of the contractually agreed charges? If it's not in the contract, then why pay? And if the contract stipulates that AT&T can add whatever surcharge they like, why are customers complaining?
    • by Rich0 (548339)

      And if the contract stipulates that AT&T can add whatever surcharge they like, why are customers complaining?

      Such a contract would likely be unenforceable as a matter of law, or at least it should be. By their very nature the terms of contracts cannot be modified except by mutual consent. Contracts can include variable rates, but usually they need to be very well-defined. A contract that says you'll pay whatever expenses we happen to incur without any choice in the matter wouldn't qualify.

  • by anthony_greer (2623521) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:03AM (#43811467)

    Part of what we pay for with state taxes is an Attorney General who amongst other things, is supposed to stand up for tax paying citizens in these sorts of situations - This is a clear david vs goliath contract law issue and a state AG or two suing these motherfuckrs could help...

    I agreed to a particular price, if they can not offer the service and make profit for the price they offered it to me at, its their own bad business decision...

    • by VortexCortex (1117377) <VortexCortex@ p ... r e trograde.com> on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:35AM (#43811705)

      I agreed to a particular price, if they can not offer the service and make profit for the price they offered it to me at, its their own bad business decision...

      Not only that, but the prices should never go up for the same service. It's not like the machines want better working conditions (yet). Growing revenue with a surcharge is not a valid way to grow revenue. You grow revenue by getting more customers, providing a better service, using more efficient hardware, PROGRESS. This is a pure example of profit for profit's sake. It's stealing, plain and simple. Taking from me without giving any benefit in return is stealing, even if the amount is too small for us to notice individually, in aggregate it's outright theft.

      If I came home with a big pile of cash the question would be: "Wait, where did you get all this money?!" If I was AT&T my answer would be: "Uh, from customers?" "What did you do for them to get the money?!" "Nothing!" THAT'S STEALING. It would be one thing if they actually had higher costs to operate, the answer could be "I provided them with a service that cost more to provide", but that's a lie. Costs they're citing have actually GONE DOWN.

      So long as it remains more profitable for companies to simply oversell and raise the prices to make profit vs using some profit to do the work to provide better services then you can expect this to happen again and again. What happens if you spend a bunch of profit to provide a better service? Your stock price goes down. Blame the fucking stock market.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:06AM (#43811485)

    There's a good thread here [fatwallet.com] detailing other AT&T customers experiences with getting out of their current contract without paying the ETF. That thread also contains extremely useful info about how to go to Arbitration with AT&T if they won't budge.

  • Why are cell phones not covered under public utility law like water, power or land lines?

    The power company could ever pull this shit without state legislature approval and/or public PUC hearings.

    At this point, there needs to be much tighter regulations since we have for all practical purposes an oligopoly in the USA.

    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      Your power company has a legal monopoly over you. So does your water company, and your sewer company. You cannot vote with your wallet. That's why they are regulated.

      With cell phones and Internet, you CAN vote with your wallet, because there is free competition.

      You agreed to the ETF when you signed your contract. It was not foisted upon you against your will. Neither was your choice of carrier made mandatory to you.

      That's the difference.

      • I agree that I agreed to the ETF at signing the contract, but I also agreed to pay a fixed and pre established monthly cost for services rendered. They are increasing the cost without revision of the contract - that would nullify it would it not? Or can I simply pay them (Bill Total LESS Amount of new fee) each month and wait till they ding my credit score for non payment of those fees when I switch carriers in a few months...

  • by TWiTfan (2887093) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:13AM (#43811549)

    They have to administer all that new money coming in, don't they?

  • "An AT&T spokeswoman said the fee covers 'certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell-site rents and maintenance."

    So my question is, is then why have you just now started to add this fee? Haven't you always had to pay for cell-site rents and maintenance? Simply adding the "surcharge" because you feel like it should be illegal.
  • Needs to stop (Score:4, Informative)

    by markdavis (642305) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:25AM (#43811627)

    >" Normally, consumers could vote with their wallets by taking their business elsewhere"

    Hate to tell you this, but I think they all do that. Sprint has, Verizon has... not how T-Mobile does it. They all have one or more mysterious "fee" lines on the bill. It is a sham and why you can't believe any advertising from any cell company about the price of the plans. It is bad enough that in MY locality, wireless is taxed at something like 22%, then add "carrier surcharges", E911 fees, administrative fees, "Federal Univ Serv Assess Non-ID" fees, "State Gross Receipts Surcharge", "State Special Revenue Surcharge", "Regulatory Charge", and even f*ing sales tax (how can the state charge sales tax on a SERVICE???)

    Then don't forget to add that data add-on charge and insurance protection in case you drop that $600 phone.

    Before all the above, my plan for two phones is $107.99. And after- it is $159.48. 48% higher than the shiny number being advertised.

  • Simple fix (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:25AM (#43811631)

    Simple fix

    Call up AT&T and switch to a pay by check through the mail. The cost of billing and postage will cost them more than the 61-cents.

  • by AxemRed (755470)
    I understand the need to add fees or increase rates. But it would have been a lot smarter just to add the fee to all new contracts or at contract upgrades rather than sticking it to everyone at the same time.
  • AT&T has decided its customers just have too damn much money.

  • Not the only ones (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Junta (36770) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:30AM (#43811667)

    I think you can find instances of every carrier sneaking rate hikes onto customers with contracts. The contract only helps the carrier, never ever the consumer.

    Thankfully, my contract is up next month. I'll be off to T-mobile no-contract plan.

  • http://www.theverge.com/2013/4/23/4253874/att-new-1-2-million-smartphone-q1-2013-financials [theverge.com]

    They added almost 300,000 subscribers, sold 6 million phones and they grossed $16.4 Billion (up 3.4% from Q1 2012).

    Yeah they really need that extra cash.

    • Of course!
      All those damn new customers with their self righteous need to use our infrastructure and not have their phone calls drop as we only have 1 tower to cover a county!
      And data?!?!? They want to get emails on their phones while they are at it!

      Who is going to pay for towers for all those new people to use service?
      It certainly can't be AT&T since all that new earning is obviously profit, not an expense.
      Greedy customers!
  • Wish more people would not take this kind of stuff lying down. Especially in cases where the business is not a monopoly. For instance, I don't understand why anyone still banks at Bank of America. They don't have a monopoly, far from it, and they treat their customers like wolves treat cattle. And why does anyone pay for cable TV? Can't be for the absence of ads!

    Cutting the land line doesn't help save money, not while the price of cell phone service remains outrageous. Internet service and phone ser

  • 76F34BB0EF7 849 Thu May 23 12:57:02 icinga@example.com
    (host mx.cingularme.com[209.183.32.63] said: 452 Insufficient system storage (in reply to MAIL FROM command))
                                            6035551212@txt.att.net

  • Imagine if AT&T were the only game in town (Monopoly). Your only option would be to put-up-or-shut-up. Fanboism drives this sort of thing. And I'm not just picking on the iPhone crowd. Any corporation that can drop something shiny and have a customer base so willing to bend over for it would love to be sitting in AT&T's place. Think about how your future purchases are affected when "everyone is doing it". Be glad you can turn to many different alternatives right now. Alternatives are the only t

  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Friday May 24, 2013 @09:42AM (#43811791)

    AT&T...it's just not worth it...

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