What's Up with My Phone Bill?

Every month I just look at my local (Bell Atlantic) phone bill and shake my head. I’ve signed up for the ‘low-use’ option, for which the discount rate is $9.72/month.

Not bad, you say. But the actual charges come to $17.33. How can a $9.72 rate have an 80% mark-up? There are nine additional charges tacked on.

And no, I don’t have any options like call forwarding, call waiting, caller ID, video phone, etc…

For that mark-up, I want a phone that reaches out and fondles me or something. :slight_smile:

Just had to vent.

Souvenieeeeers, nov-elties, par-ty tricks

I don’t know but definitely call them and make them justify the extra charges.

We had a phone bill several months ago that had several new services attached. Some of them were as much as $25! All in all in increased our bill by $90!

I called the phone company and they tried to give me some bs about how they couldn’t refund it because it had already been billed, but they would remove the charges for the next bill. To make a long story short I convinced them that they should remove the charges, but be prepared for them to take a hard stance on not removing them!

What more could you expect from somebody who lets people kick him to the head?

I’ve got a friend in Canada I’ve been talking pretty steady to for the last several months. The first month we talked was a nice surprise for me. I found out that my “10 cents a minute, 5 cents after midnight on alternating Tuesdays” phone plan didn’t cover calls to Canada.

Glad I got some cash saved up…the phone bill that month was six times larger than I was expecting.

You say “cheesy” like that’s a BAD thing.

All of the dominant phone companies around the world do that to everybody. Every single fucking one.

In New Zealand we have Telecom who are constantly fucking around with the laws, stratching them way past the limit, paying the Government a bribe to overlook the breaches, and meanwhile making a deadly profit.

In Australia there’s Telstra, doing very similar. And they all learned it from the US with their AT & T, and British Telecom.

Wankers. The lot of them should be tortured and beheaded.

I’ve already called to ask about the extra charges. They are all either taxes, regulatory fees, federal access tolls, whatever.

I mentioned one in particular, a “local number portability surcharge.” Aha, I said, I don’t have a portable phone number. It stays at home all the time. I don’t have a cell phone, additional lines or anything.

No matter, Miss Bell Atlantic tells me, everyone has to pay it regardless, and all the other charges as well.


Your “local number portability surcharge” is one that the Big Bad Phone Companies slipped through various PUCs.

Basically, competition is coming to telephony. Right now, real competition is mostly happening in downtown business districts, and mostly for businesses with more than 5 lines or so.

Initially, when you changed phone companies, you changed your phone number. Not too attractive if you happen to be a business with a Yellow Pages listing, billboards, business cards & stationary, etc.

“Number portability” is the term for being able to take your phone number with you when you fire, in your case, Hell Atlantic. Because the Big Bad Phone Company incurred costs (big ones, as it turned out) to figure out how to port the numbers to someone else’s switch, they passed those costs on to customers.

Even residential customers.

Even though the benefits of the competition are barely available to you, if at all.

Is this a great country, or what?

Don’t even get me started on the Gore Tax.

Consider firing your phone company, if you can.

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

Man you guys should start asking for the kind of deals we get up here in Canada.

For long distance within Canada you pay $.10/min up to a maximum of $20 for all calls made evenings and weekends. $20 Canadian is around $US13.


Save water drink beer!

I live in California, where the Gray Panthers and a consumer agency called TURN succeeded in getting the state Public Utilities commission to cancel the planned overlay of Area Code 424 over the regular 310. For several months now we have had to dial an area code even for local calls!
The “portability charge” and an “Inside line insurance” charge (a lie since, after AT&T was divested, the telephone and the lines inboard from the house terminal are the subscriber’s responsibility) are the next things the Gray Panthers and TURN are attacking. They also urge members–and indeed all subscribers–to contact the FCC to get the phone comopanies to clean up their act.

Yeah, they’re heroes all right. Now a significant fraction of the businesses will have to change their stationary, signage, and business cards and tell everyone they do business with what their new phone number is (probably multiple times), plus have to worry about any business they might lose because of any old (and now incorrect) advertising they may have out there which it’s not practical to change. Also, a lot of the individuals will have to update their contact information with all their friends, and all the companies THEY do business with will need to update their records.

But that’s okay, because now the Gray Panthers don’t have to remember to dial three freakin’ digits when they place a call; that’ll probably save them each nearly an hour per year!

I’m not bitter just because my area code split a couple of years ago and is getting ready to split AGAIN. No indeedy.

You’re wasting your wrath on me, Torq. The FCC bears the blame, because they set up a rule–which seems quite arbitrary now–that fax machines, modems, and cellular phone could not be assigned separate area codes.
This is more my bailiwick than yours. I grew up in a telephone-company family.
If you’re so upset about it, why don’t you go holler at the Gray Panthers that they’ve upset your applecart? You sound like a crybaby.

A couple of nits:

Interestingly, that is why this line item appears on your bill. If you pay this (generally $1.70 to $3/month), your LEC will come and fix inside wiring problems without charging you their outrageous fees. This is an optional expense in most jurisdictions. And a stupid one, because inside wiring almost never goes bad without the customer doing something to make it bad, which voids the “insurance.” But good luck trying to find the right person at the phone company to discontinue the “service.”

Judges? No, I’m sorry but that’s wrong. In fact, several jurisdictions have separate area codes for cell phones, including 917 in my area. This decision is made at the state level.

But powerful forces stand in the way of such a plan.

First, you won’t be surprised that mobile telephony providers think this is a terrible idea. Back in the early days of cell phones (<10% penetration), cellphone providers believed that a separate area code would be a major selling barrier. The convinced virtually all PUCs to keep area code continuity for mobile service. Now, it’s new entrants (Sprint PCS and others) who believe they would be at a competitive disadvantage if such a rule were implemented (which would effectively give established providers the familiar area code and leave the new guys stuck with the new one). But it’s happening from time to time.

Second, many business PBXs can’t handle incoming calls from two different area codes. Why should they? One location, one area code, right? So businesses successfully lobby PUCs to keep a single area-code solution for their non-voice applications. Telco central offices have been upgraded to handle overlays (thus the situation in CA, and also with 646 here).

BTW, your friends at the Gray Panthers are inconveniencing businesses only to delay the inevitable. 10-digit dialing is coming.

DIVEMASTER, wwhat country are you in.

Im in Calif, USA, AT&T. Most of the stuff on the statement I can understand but one thing for $1.52, or so, has next to it, ‘call for an explanation of this charge.’

Also for the rest of ya most water comp’s in the USA have discount rates if you don’t make a lot of money [in my area that is under $17,000]. Here they shear off that ‘water service charge,’ which is often more than the water itself [$15 water, $18 service].

handy, I think the Divemaster is talking about his local phone bill, not long distance (he lives, according to his profile, in Maryland. This is bolstered by the fact that his local provider is Bell Atlantic).

Your local provider is almost certainly not ATT unless you switched to them in the last 18 months or so. I’m not even aware that T is providing local residential service to your area yet. But if they are, I’ve got about a gazillion questions for you, so please re-post.

And did ATT really put a line item on your LD bill with no explanation other than “call us?” That’s beautiful! Heck, maybe I’ll just start sending out bills to people. To see what happens. (Yes, I’m kidding)

Livin’ on Tums, Vitamin E and Rogaine

That was more or less my point, too.

The Gray Panthers feel it’s such an inconvenience for them to press three extra buttons when they make a call that it justifies forcing businesses to spend actual cash money reprinting and to face a potential loss of business, instead of going with a scheme that will probably eventually happen anyway.

I’m assuming one or several of the following:

The Gray Panthers are hoping they’ll be dead before the 3+7 scheme finally blows up for good;

The Phone Companies think it’s easier/cheaper to do a split than an overlay and are clandestinely stirring up the poorly educated to lobby the PUC;

Printers are behind it all; or

(now I have a new one, thanks manhattan!) Businesses with outdated PBX systems are deciding that it’s cheaper to reprint everything than to upgrade their PBX (and, if they’re lucky, they don’t even have to reprint… I suspect that most businesses with large PBX systems will be in the areas selected to keep the old code anyway); sometime between now and when the 3+7 system fails altogether they’ll probably need a new PBX anyway and they can upgrade then.

I dunno… I’ve had that insurance save my ass a few times. Once when the line from the pole to the house went through a tree and got totally screwed up, and once when I needed a bunch of jacks in the house fixed (out of about 9 total, only one or two worked) and they needed to run new wire through most of the house. Saved me about $300 or more and it only cost me like 80 cents/month.

“Cluemobile? You’ve got a pickup…”
OpalCat’s site: http://opalcat.com
The Teeming Millions Homepage: fathom.org/teemingmillions

OpalCat the telephone company is responsiple for the connection to and including the outside connection box. The first wouldn’t have been your responsibilty. The second deffinatly saved you money.

I sympathize with Dive - I’m in Md too and it kills me every time I get the B.A. bill with all those charges tacked on. Get this: when I moved into my present apartment,I discovered the phone jack in the living room didn’t work.The computer’s sitting on a desk in my living room. I had to run the computer wire up a corner of the room, along the ceiling and into the kitchen to use that jack. The apartment people gave me a run-a-round, then finally said it’s my problem. B. A. tells me the former tenant probably had a different line in the living room and if so, it will cost me $70 bucks to get it fixed. I told them to send someone out. The guy said that’s what it was, I told him to go ahead and fix it (what was I gonna do?) - it took him (no kidding) 2 minutes of tinkering with the jack. He didn’t charge me. I long for the day B.A. has some competition.

I recently noticed my phone bill was due 2-3 days earlier each month; on the 23rd one month, then the 21st the next, then the 18th-- you get the picture. I did the math and discovered that the phone company was charging me a monthly service fee for 13 MONTHS EACH YEAR!!

It seems they use a 28 day billing cycle, which in their mind is not fraudulent (or even arrogant-- after all, they are the PHONE COMPANY and can invent a new calendar if it suits them, right???)


“Believe those who seek the truth.
Doubt those who find it.” --Andre Gide

manhattan, yes such a line is on my statement from AT&T. I would like to call it but I think that its some stupid idea of theirs to find out who would call & then offer them something.

Hey, the TTY fund for deaf people in Calif, USA, is on the local phone statement. IT used to be 3 cents but is now one penny. At least something did drop in price :slight_smile:

I hope to God none of the Teeming Millions is hoping the Gray Panthers will be dead. (That sounds like Hitler or Stalin or Mao.)
The issue is that many local carriers have been issued phone numbers in blocks of 10,000, far more than they need, but what they get because of an arbirtrary FCC rule. Therefore, the area codes get “used up” when in fact most of the numbers within those area codes sit unused because of the FCC rule.
According to my Gray Panther friend–81 years old and sharp as a sword–the three-digit addendum causes confusion. That’s all the detail she gave me. For more detail contact their website: www.stopoverlay.com
I have a good mind to take up the ‘maybe they’ll be dead’ remark with Cecil’s legal counsel.