If you are an AT&T wireless customer, you will now see a new charge on your phone bill. This new charge is being listed as an "administrative fee," and it will cost you $.61 per month. Sixty cents isn't such a big deal, right? Well, it's a huge deal for AT&T. The company has more than 70 million customers. At just around $7 per year per customer, that small amount will grow to an added revenue stream of just under $500,000,000.
AT&T just padded its pockets with a cool five-hundred million annually from this small admin fee, but customers aren't so thrilled about the new charge. For obvious reasons, paying any extra amount on a cell phone bill is never a good thing, since bills are high enough anyway. But, at least AT&T isn't discriminating. The company is charging the fees to individuals and businesses alike.
Why The New Fees?
When a company tacks on a new fee, customers have a right to know what that fee represents. Whether or not AT&T informed each customer directly remains to be seen, but the company did have something to say about the new fees. Here's what an AT&T rep told press: "[the new fees will] help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents and maintenance."
Does that sound justified to you? Other companies do tack on admin fees. T-Mobile, for example, adds admin fees to all bundles, so you don't actually see the separate charges (but they are there). AT&T is being slightly more transparent about the whole thing - I guess that's a good thing? Still, if you have a high cell phone bill already, adding a small amount to that bill will add up. What can you do? Not much.
Stuck With It
For now, AT&T customers are stuck with the new fees. You can try to switch carriers, but that often ends up costing more. Also, those people that are in rural areas might not have another carrier option. There's also the argument that cell carriers aren't making enough money, and some of them are barely turning a profit trying to keep up with data across large countries. Adding a few extra cents to every bill is a way to bring in the added dollars.
Do you have AT&T currently? Has your bill changed lately? This seems to be a common practice that carriers and other companies (cable and satellite companies are doing this too) are starting to do more frequently. I'm betting that you aren't too thrilled about the new changes if you do have AT&T, but just remember that other companies charge these fees too -- even if they are hidden inside of a package price.
How to Shop Around
Most of the time, you will have to wait for your cell plan to expire before you shop around effectively. But, you may be able to find a carrier that's willing to give you an amazing deal. If you're locked into a contract, this will be tough. My advice? Stick it out until the end of the contract, bring up the new fees, and make them lower your rates.