Here’s what I hate about carriers: It’s all about you when they’re at risk of losing your business. The second they have the chokehold on you, you’re theirs and if you want to leave you’re going to have to pay the price – and a lot of the time, it’s a really hefty price. Sometimes, though, you get lucky. Sometimes the carrier messes up, breaches a contract, and if you try hard enough you can get out scot-free.
According to recent news, mobile carrier AT&T added a new “Mobility Administrative Fee”, totaling at $0.61 each month for AT&T customers. The explanation for this charge is to "help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance,” reports The Verge. They continue to on to say that the fee is "consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers." It’s cool and all, until you realize that your seemingly small inconvenience fee turns into a monster profit pool for AT&T in the long run – a monster the size of about $875 million per year coming from all 70 million plus of AT&T’s customers. That’s a lot of money for a company that suddenly needs this money out of nowhere.
When I first read that they would be charging the extra money I didn’t think much of it. On the surface it seemed like AT&T would only be charging $0.61 per account – but in actuality it affects each individual line. For a single line it will total up to $7.32 per year; for a family of four it totals to $29.28. For a family of four who decides to be loyal customers for the next ten years that’s nearly $300 down the drain for a simple charge disguised as an “Administrative Fee”, and that’s not something I can agree with.
I think the biggest kicker for me was when I read that quote about “consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers.” That right there tells me that you, as a company, are only doing this just because. Well, these companies can do it so why don’t we? Both Sprint and Verizon have higher administration fees than AT&T – they could have used this to their advantage! This could have been one of those smaller, quieter victories that AT&T could have kept humble about instead of making this huge mark-up for whatever greedy reason it has decided to do so. In the very least, they could have made a significantly smaller mark-up and still made enough money to rub it in people’s faces without looking like as big of jerks.
AT&T isn’t the first company to pull shenanigans like this. Carriers like to do this kind of thing because, well, why not? It’s easy money. Tack a fee at the end of a bill, call it “administrative”, and rack in the dough. But as I mentioned previously, it could also be considered a stroke of luck if you’ve been looking for an excuse to break your contract without paying those pesky ETFs.
While it’s never guaranteed to work and it could take hours of your time in order to get anything done, surprise fees provide the perfect opportunity to show yourself the door from a company. Well, maybe not perfect; but it’s an opportunity with a much higher chance of succeeding rather than failing miserably. You have a valid argument on your side that the carrier has breached their end of the contract, and that’s bound to be good for something.
Also, even if you’re not interesting in ending your contract you can still try to get credited for the extra fees. Save yourself $7.32 a year. Buy yourself a Happy Meal!
My point here is that while an increase in charges is imminent in many cases and you can’t win them all, some of them do come off a little more ridiculous than others. Does AT&T really need to charge each line $0.61 a month in order to get what they need? Maybe, but I’m sure they’re getting a nice profit out of it too. I find it annoying that companies use the “just because” excuse to take money from customers. Is nothing sacred anymore?
Readers, have you ever fought companies for extra charges added after you’ve already signed a contract? How do you feel about this $0.61/line monthly charge coming from AT&T? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!