This is a slightly HUGE increase bill in my monthly home phone bill: From $1.17 per month to $215.65!

A slightly HUGE jump in my monthly phone bill

I resigned from AT&T (as a state “education advocate”) back in July of 2008. As an employee, I received free local phone service with all the optional services / bells and whistles. Because we live outside the AT&T DSL service area, we obtained our high speed Internet access via Cox Cable of Oklahoma. (If we were in the service area, I could have received free DSL.) After I resigned I figured it would take awhile for the AT&T billing department to figure out I was no longer an employee and eligible for the concession on our home phone. Turns out it took them eight months.

AT&T bill changes

It’s amazing to see how much the “optional” services AT&T started charging for us (after discontinuing my concession) actually cost per month. Today I called to get our bill “fixed” and was told we’d need to pay $26.69 per month plus taxes for JUST local phone service. For just dial tone and local calling. Since we could add another cell phone to our AT&T wireless family plan for just $10 per month and share minutes, this seemed and still seems QUITE ridiculous. We have a Skype phone which we can plug into our home cable modem if needed, to have a landline for calling, so that was a possibility I considered when making negotiations today with AT&T.

I ended up talking with a representative of the AT&T “retention unit” who was very helpful, and he worked it out so we can pay just $16 per month plus taxes for our basic local service, including caller ID. That seems much more reasonable. AT&T is wise to have a “retention unit” that is able to extend “credits” like this (in our case it’s a credit of $5 per month for 24 months) so they can keep us as a landline customer. To get that final price, the rep put us on a bundled plan which was $21 per month before the $5 per moth discount. After the new iPhone is released this summer (as I guess it will be) we may drop our landline entirely and just add another cell phone to our wireless account.

Several other things and charges revealed in these discussions seemed ridiculous as well. It took 58 MINUTES overall to make all these changes over the phone. Ugh. So much for fast customer service. I was glad and satisfied with the final outcome, but it was silly this took so long to change. For long distance, we just want to use our cell phones, so we don’t want long distance. To block or stop long distance calls from being made on our home phone with AT&T, however, requires a monthly charge of $3.25. A monthly charge to NOT have long distance service! When I tried to pay my “recommended payment” online, I was not allowed to because the amount is past due. When I called, I was told I’d have to pay a “$5 convenience fee” for paying over the phone rather than online. I was not going to do that.

I’m glad my bill has been straightened out, and $16 per month plus tax seems much more reasonable than $26.69 for just local dial tone. Still, I have a feeling our family’s days of local phone service from ANY service provider are very limited.

I’m planning to wait to pay my bill online now until the applied “credits” apply to our account. The last phone rep I spoke to said that could take up to 90 days. So much for business “at the speed of creativity!”

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On this day..

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  • Craig

    Part of the telco’s challenge is being caught between new technology and old regulations. They have a lot more leeway in working with you on “information services” (Internet, VoIP, etc.) than they do when it comes to “telecommunications services” (local, long distance, etc.)

    It’ll work itself out in the end, but with RCAs, PUCs and FCCs it is going to take some time. :-p

    -Craig-

  • http://www.theventurousedge.com Heather Voran

    I totally understand…when we moved into this house 5 years ago, I told AT&T that I wanted only very basic service, no long distance, and caller ID. We also get our Internet through AT&T, at something like $30/month. Our total phone and internet has been over $140 per month, which is ridiculous! But because we wanted to keep DSL, we went ahead and paid it.

    I decided to call last month and see if there was ANYthing we could drop to lower the price, and lo and behold…for the EXACT same services we were receiving before it is now just over HALF the price! $75, including TAX. And has been for months! I want to know how they can get by with that…if I had not called, it would never have been changed!

    I guess they figure what we don’t know won’t hurt us, but it really ticks me off!

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