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2.07.2012

UNSCRUPULOUS SURCHARGES

I hate bills.  Who doesn't?  It's not just that I hate paying them, seeing money leave the checkbook.  It is that I am sick to death of fees for this and fees for that.  No doubt there is a lot about utility and phone industry fees and government regulations for that industry that I am not abreast of.  I do know I am sick to death of being nickle and dimed over this fee or tax charge or that administrative or regulatory charge.  Sure, it's not a ton of money when you look at the surcharges breakdown.  But it is on every utility, phone and Internet bill I pay!  These are the charges listed on my Verizon cellphone bill under the heading Verizon Wireless Surcharges:

Fed Universal Service Charge        3.11
Regulatory Charge                         .32
Administrative Charge                  1.98
State Utility Receipts Surcharge    1.30
State Telecom Relay Surcharge       .06
State Universal Service Fee            .29
State PUC Fee                               .07

You may say, that is only $7.13.  But that is on top of a data package fee, a line access fee, and insurance the phone (replacement without it would cost $600). I understand deregulation and laws that govern the disclosure of fees to consumers.  It helps me clearly know what I am paying for so I can more easily throw a hissy fit!  I just checked my bill and I am being charged a Michigan 911 and Michigan State Use Tax.  I DON'T LIVE IN THE STATE OF MICHIGAN OR HAVE A MICHIGAN CELL PHONE NUMBER!  I feel bad for the economy of the state of Michigan, but don't feel I need to bail them out!   A few weeks back we added my husband's work cell phone to my plan.  Not too many days later Verizon sent two letters regarding both of our phone numbers.  It was a plan summary of sorts.  I am quoting this directly from Verizon, "Note:  Federal Universal Service, Regulatory and Administrative Charges are Verizon Wireless charges, not taxes.  Taxes and Verizon Wireless surcharges may be between 10%-38% of your monthly bill."  That is literally unbelievable!  I am all for capitalism.  I think it makes things competitive and probably better in terms of choices.  Companies need to make a profit.  No issue there.  There has to be though, some reasonable margin in profits to customer pricing.  Today I will make a phone call to their 800 number to question the Michigan fees assessed my account and give my thoughts to someone on the other end that does not set the policy for charges.  It will be a somewhat futile attempt to make a splash with my pebble in an ocean of corporateness.   

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