Sunday, June 26, 2005

It's 'da fees stupid

Overheard: "Wonder why our phone bill is more expensive this month? We didn't make any long distance calls or anything."

Well, it took all the will power I had not to butt into the conversation with "it's the fees stupid".

Take a close look at your latest phone bills - cell phone, land line, all of them. You're likely in for a rude awakening.

I had the opportunity to price out new cell phone service for someone in the Dallas Metroplex and was astonished. For 1000 minutes w/ unlimited nights and weekends, the monthly fee was great - $45. But then when the bill came we were astonished to find an additional $15 in taxes and fees. That's basically a 33% tax rate!

Here is the detail for the bill in question:

Taxes, Fees and Surcharges

Item Amount

Government Fees and Taxes

Federal Excise Tax 1.29

Federal Universal Service Fund 1.16

State Sales Tax 4.96

State Universal Service Fund 3.02

TIF Reimbursement 0.98

City District Tax 0.80

Local Sales Tax 0.80

State 911 0.50

Regulatory Programs Fee* 0.86

Taxes, Fees and Surcharges 14.37

*Fee we collect and retain to help cover our costs related to funding and complying with government mandates, programs and obligations.

No wonder SBC and Verizon want to keep their monopoly position so radically protected against municiple providers here in Texas. That $4 in Universal Service Fund money goes right back to them in one form or another. Simply amazing.