I remember the first time I ever learned about taxes. Growing up, my parents gave us an allowance in exchange for household chores. We could spend our money how we wanted (within reason) and I usually chose to save enough money to warrant a trip to the toy store.
On this particular visit, I saved $25 for a giant stuffed dog. The dog was priced at $24.99, which meant I had a cent more than needed. My dad and I brought the dog to the cashier, who rang it up and told us that the total was definitely more than $25. My face started to feel hot because I only saved $25 exactly. Of course, my dad paid her and it wasn’t a big deal. When I explained to him back in the car that I didn’t have more than $25, he told me it was okay, it was just taxes and he would cover it. Then he explained that taxes are what help pay for things like good roads, schools, and a lot of other things.
Of course, young me just didn’t understand. That’s all well and fine, but why didn’t they just include that amount in the first place? Why didn’t they just say the dog would cost $26.42 instead of surprising me with that amount at the register?
Lesson learned. From that moment on, I knew I couldn’t take a price tag at face value. There was always going to be some undisclosed taxes and/or fees attached to things. Later I would learn that phone plans were no different.
At this point in my life, a few extra bucks here and there isn’t devastating like it was when I was 7. However, smart phone taxes and fees usually amount to be much more than “just a few extra bucks”. It can be tens of dollars more than quoted, sometimes even a hundred dollars or more with access line fees, overages, or random surcharges that just seem to appear out of thin air sometimes. It just depends on how many lines you have on your account, and how close you’re paying attention to the different charges on each line.
Fortunately, that might be yet another “pain point” that fades away soon thanks to the efforts of a few carriers employing the use of “all-inclusive” plans, which include plan features, fees, and surcharges in the advertised price.
T-Mobile is the most well known for their all-inclusive plans, which they unveiled at their Un-carrier event during CES earlier this year, but they’re not the first nor the only carrier to do so. Cricket Wireless also went all-inclusive last November, and recently Boost Mobile switched to all-inclusive as well.
Although just three out of many U.S. carriers have switched to all-inclusive, the seed has been planted. People know that they can get no-nonsense pricing with their phone plans. As somebody who has dealt with this issue as both a customer and a representative, it’s one of the most appealing changes that have come to the industry in my opinion. Trying to estimate what a bill might look like monthly by guessing what surcharges might be on the bill was a nightmare and never worked out well for anybody. Offering a flat rate is a much better solution, and it just makes sense.
T-Mobile has influenced the industry for the better in many ways, and those major changes don’t happen overnight. Hopefully, other major carriers will pick up on it, or maybe it will just stick to pre-paid carriers. Either way, at least the idea is starting to catch on, and that’s an important step.