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AT&T to gain over $730m annually from monthly admin fee

The FTC claims users were mis-charged

US operator AT&T has caused uproar with customers after it imposed a $0.61 monthly fee on its postpaid users, standing to gain around $732m per year in extra revenue as a result.

The Mobility Administrative Fee was introduced this month. In a statement, the operator said: “Consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers, the monthly fee of $0.61 per line will help cover certain expenses, such as the charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers; and cell site rents and maintenance.”

The charge applies to postpaid users of which, according to Informa’s WCIS, AT&T has just over 100 million as of March 2013. So the resultant net revenue the firm is likely to see as a result stands at over $732m per year.

The operator  was inundated with online messages from customers complaining about the fee and threatening to report it to the US Better Business Bureau (BBB), Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

On AT&T’s online community forum, one customer wrote: “The fact that other companies charge it is irrelevant.”

“Three or four wrongs don’t make a right. On the contrary the fact that the big wireless companies take turns matching each other’s increases is an old story and is the closest to collusion they can get without going to jail. In competitive markets such as Europe prices are going down. The fact that they are breaching a contract by making up a baloney name for the fee, is the crux of the matter.”

Another customer commented: “Can you explain why AT&T can charge a new fee that is not mandated by the government without letting customers get out of their contract without an early terminsation fee (ETF)?  What’s from stopping AT&T from adding an additional $50/month fee and not letting customers out of their contract?  I’d really like an answer for this.”

In its latest financial quarter, which ended March 31, 2013, AT&T’s consolidated revenues totalled $31.4bn, down 1.5 per cent year on year. Operating expenses were $25.4bn for the quarter.


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