What are these F*cking Charges?

Like a lot of people, I have an iPhone 3G. Sadly, I stayed with the AT&T network. AT&T is not the worst network in the world, they’re the second worst. So I was looking over my bill and decided I wanted to break down all these nonsense fees I seem to have and make sense of them all, because they add up. On any given month, I seem to have between 10 and 15 dollars worth of fees, which is in the neighborhood of 150 dollars a year! That’s nothing to sneeze at, let me tell you, especially in this economy. So let’s see what I’m getting for my money. (I searched various links via search engine and since I’m not a journalist, I’m not citing sources, take my word for it or look it up yourself.)

Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge
“The purpose of this charge is to recover our costs. The fee will help AT&T recover those costs associated with providing state-to-state and international long distance service, including expenses for national regulatory fees and programs, as well as connection and account servicing charges.”
In other words: AT&T is passing the buck on this one. Although an occupational hazard of owning a telco, they are making the customers pay. Although I said I wouldn’t cite sources, this comes from AT&T themselves. http://www.consumer.att.com/ccrf/faqs.html

County Gross Receipts Surcharge
“Also known as state/local surcharge, or state tax surcharge, applies to calls between states and some long distance calls within the state. The interstate surcharge is approved by the FCC. This is not a tax imposed on the customer, but a surcharge to recover the higher taxes…”
Ok, so telcos have to pay a tax and somehow that translates to us receiving not the tax, but a surcharge. Got it.

Federal Universal Service Charge
A.K.A. Carrier Universal Service Charge: “Because telephones provide a vital link to emergency services, to government services and to surrounding communities, it has been our nation’s policy to promote telephone service to all households since this service began in the 1930s. The USF helps to make phone service affordable and available to all Americans, including consumers with low incomes, those living in areas where the costs of providing telephone service is high, schools and libraries and rural health care providers. Congress has mandated that all telephone companies providing interstate service must contribute to the USF. Although not required to do so by the government, many carriers choose to pass their contribution costs on to their customers in the form of a line item, often called the “Federal Universal Service Fee” or “Universal Connectivity Fee”.”
Again, passing the buck to customers.

MTA Telecom Surcharge
“This surcharge recovers telephone company expenses associated with mandated New York State temporary metropolitan transportation business tax surcharge (Section 184-A Tax), and applies to customers located in the New York metro area only.”
Oh, the joys of city living, although the stretch of the “metro area” is also a good portion of surrounding area to the 5 boroughs. Apparently this tax has also been temporary for a long time.

State Telecommunications Excise Surcharge
“The Federal Excise Tax was introduced in 1898 by the federal government as a temporary tax to support the nation’s efforts in the Spanish-American War. The tax revenue from the Federal Excise Tax goes directly into the Federal General Fund.”
Yes, when I did research on this tax, this was the CLOSEST thing I could find that seemed to fit what this tax was. It may not be, but the lower on the bill we get, the more shady these “taxes” become.

9-1-1 Service Fee
“Most states require all telephone subscribers to pay a monthly fee that is used to expand and maintain emergency service. The fee is either an amount per line or a percentage of revenue. State law mandates the fee. ”
Ok, fine, it’s 911.

Local Wireless 911 Surcharge
…this one has me stumped.

NY State Sales Tax
Ok, fine, it’s sales tax.

NY State Telecom Tax
This one, I could find nothing on, it almost appears to be named this way on purpose as all of these taxes are “telecom tax.” I do need to note that this is one of the most expensive on the list.

City Sales Tax
Ok, fine, it’s sales tax. …even if redundant.

City Telecom Tax
Again, like its state counterpart, this one is shady. It’s actually more expensive than the state telecom tax. I wonder if these telecom taxes are just being pocketed.

City District Telecom Tax
This one completely has me stumped. Seriously, what is the difference between this and the above?

If anyone has ANY insight to what some of these are, please email me, leave a comment, something! I really don’t understand why it’s okay to increase bills between 15-20% on people with charges that seem completely made up. There seems to be no explanation. I “thumbed: through this out-dated piece of crap: http://www.tax.state.ny.us/pdf/stats/policy_special/telecommunications/2000/local_telecommunications_taxes_and_fees.pdf Good luck finding more recent accounts of what these charges are if you can: http://www.tax.state.ny.us If I turn up anything, you’ll be the first to know. Here’s another list of some explanation I turned up: http://www.dps.state.ny.us/TelecomTaxesSurcharges.html, but plenty of the charges appearing on the bill are not present here. (Wow, I ended up citing some sources after all.)

I guess the lesson here is simple folks, if you run your own business, add a surcharge of some sort. Make it $5. If you can get 5 dollars from every customer just because they’re your customer, think of the extra money you’ll make over the years.

6 thoughts on “What are these F*cking Charges?

  1. Thisis very imformative I have had AT&T for the last 7-8 yrs and the service has gotten worse ,,the real reason I went with AT&T was because of the Rollover minutes which they have now disbanded…My question is this are all the carriers the same as far as tax add ons here in NYC? ,I was seriously considering changing to Sprint or Verizon

  2. I use Simple Mobile currently, I’m pretty happy with them. I’m pretty sure several of the other companies (Metro PCS, Virgin, etc.) are much more straight forward with pricing details.

  3. Thank you for this info. I live in New York state upstate and I have these charges! Including the ones that are only if you live in the city! My number isn’t a city number either.

  4. These charges are theft, MTA adds no value to telecommunications! They are charging people to expand their budgets for no other reason than to get more influence

  5. Just Contacted AT&T…

    MTA Telecom Surcharge has gone up 1 cent every bill for the last couple of months. Among under charges like the State Telecommunications Excise Surcharge

    Asked if they had knowledge why these fees keep going up.
    All they can tell me is that by law they are required to charge us these fees.

    But they did explain that the MTA Telecom Surcharge is also being charged to counties outside the 5 Boroughs. (Westchester, Putnam, Dutchess, Rockland, Orange…etc.)

    And in part is used to pay for commuting…

    What the *#@% does my cell phone have anything to do with MTA keeps me scratching my head.

    I will be contacting my local Congressman, Legislator and so on.

    But then again, it may be used to pay them?

    Stay Tuned

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