It has been made clear that AT&T hates its customers. After being given a corporate tax break from the Trump administration, which led to layoffs and price increases, AT&T still makes the habit of making their customers pay for things they have no right in charging. Not to mention their ability to gouge consumers by claiming a low-price offer to only add additional fees to their services under “utility fees”.
In two separate stories from Ars Technica, AT&T has been making consumers in Portland pay a fee that their consumers are not legally forced to pay. Here’s the skinny: Portland passed a new Clean Energy Surcharge that would charge a 1 percent tax on retail sales in the city. In April, AT&T started charging their mobile customers the tax. There is one problem: utility companies (such as AT&T) were exempt from charging the tax. Not only that, but it wasn’t to go into effect until the following September.
Portland’s website says on one page that the utility exemption and other tax changes were “adopted following their public hearing on April 3, 2019.” But the page describing the utility exemption says it was adopted on September 10. Based on that, it seems that the change was made public in April and implemented in September. Businesses don’t actually have to pay the taxes until April 2020.
The fee, listed on AT&T bills as a Portland Clean Energy Surcharge, was as low as 5¢ per month. The Oregonian wrote that one of its employees “reported being charged 23 cents in April, 7 cents in May and 5 cents every month after until September. After learning of the mistake, AT&T claims that refunds will be offered “in the coming months.”
In another example of how AT&T hates its customers, AT&T is charging their business customers a 7 percent fee to recoup the amount that AT&T pays on its own property tax. The tactic started in mid-2017 but starting this month, AT&T was increasing the charge from 2.92 percent to 7 percent of their total monthly charges.
A consumer received this notice on his July 1st bill:
“Effective October 1, 2019, there will be an increase in the AT&T Cost Assessment Charge used to recover AT&T property taxes. The monthly rate will change from 2.92% to 7.00% of your total AT&T Business Internet, Phone and/or U-verse TV monthly charges. This charge is not a tax or fee that the government requires AT&T to collect from its customers.”
If it isn’t a fee or tax that is required by the government, why are the people paying for it? It isn’t like when you go to a grocery store to buy some milk, then you have to pay the sales tax and then the grocery store’s property tax. Any increase like that is reflected in the price of the item or service being purchased.
It may be unfair to say AT&T hates its customers, but their actions seem to reflect that. Not only that, but if you’re unhappy with that fee, you need to pay a $225 early termination fee. Of course, that tax isn’t reflected on the bill or the price of the service.
This is an old tactic used by companies that give the illusion of the lower price. No one looks at the “hidden fees” that AT&T is known to charge. Personally, I use Spectrum for my internet and never got hit with a hidden fee. Their price is what you pay. However, how long you pay that price may be subject to debate, but you need to ask the right questions.
To say AT&T hates its customers may be unfair, but they have a lot to pay for. The botched purchase of DirecTV. The ridiculous purchase of Warner Bros. The crazy debt they accumulated because of these deals. So who has to pay for it? The consumer does. Since the governing bodies are run by lobbyist of such firms, there is no oversight to work for the consumer. Also, with limited competition, consumers are stuck having to deal with these sort of antics. SCAMerica seems to be the word of the decade.