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Their just might be a hidden reason companies are encouraging you to “go paperless.” Without an actual piece of paper in your hand, you might not be able to go through the bill line-by-line.

However your bill arrives, I encourage you to take a careful look at everything listed. My Internet bill is a perfect example.

My CenturyLink paper billing comes out to four pages per month. It would be SO easy to just find the final dollar amount and pay it. I am glad I tool a closer look.

SinCenturyLink is charging us an extra $3.99 per month for something called an “Internet Cost Recovery Fee.”

If it sounds like an official government tax of some kind, it is not. It is just an extra charge CenturyLink has added to increase profits. Its website innocently proclaims, “This fee helps defray costs associated with building and maintaining CenturyLink’s High-Speed Internet broadband network, as well as the costs of expanding network capacity to support the continued increase in customers’ average broadband consumption.”

Back on June 14 2013, Karl Bode wrote in dslreports.com, “CenturyLink-Tacks-On-New-Nonsensical-Fee. Users in our CenturyLink forum say that they’re being notified of a new $1 “Internet Cost Recovery Fee” for the first time this month.”

Bob Sullivan @RedTapeChron wrote on May 8, 2014, “Attack of the tack-on fees: Tiny, but annoying. Tack-on fees help companies make their monthly charges appear lower than they actually are. Critics say they are just a sneaky way of simply raising prices, particularly when line items are broken out that seem to be an inherent, nonoptional part of a service. Consumers today are often confused by the real price they pay for monthly services, and why it differs from advertised prices. Such confusion—these tack-on gotchas—often serve as pure profit for companies.”

CenturyLink wasn’t satisfied. Since they got away with the initial hike, they kept after it. What started out at .99 in 2013, is now $3.99 in 2016.

On April 20 2016, Bode wrote, “CenturyLink Hikes Sneaky ‘Internet Cost Recovery’ Fee. One of the most misleading practices in the broadband industry is the tactic of adding sneaky, below the line fees to artificially keep the advertised rate the same. It’s effectively a form of false advertising, in that consumers sign up for one rate, then wind up paying significantly more after an ISP saddles their bills with various nonsensical fees. Many of these fees, like the “regulatory recovery fee” or broadcast TV fee are simply the cost of doing business, and are not government mandated despite being designed to sound like it.

“Case in point is CenturyLink, who for a few years now has been charging its customers something called an ‘Internet cost recovery fee.’ This is the explanation for the fee CenturyLink provides over at the CenturyLink website: ‘This fee helps defray costs associated with building and maintaining CenturyLink’s High-Speed Internet broadband network, as well as the costs of expanding network capacity to support the continued increase in customers’ average broadband consumption.’

“The problem is…that’s what the rest of your bill is for. Again, all CenturyLink is doing is using a misleading fee to artificially keep advertised rates low(er). Were regulators doing their jobs this wouldn’t be allowed.”

Anything the consumer can do after going through each bill line-by-line?

I wrote to CenturyLink asking for relief. The answer was (insert insult here).

“Thank you for your recent e-mail inquiry to CenturyLink. . . . . As of April 1, 2016 the Internet Cost Recovery fee, which helps cover the costs associated with the building and maintaining of the Internet network will increase from $1.99 to the new rate of $3.99. . . . Thank you for choosing CenturyLink. Have a great day! Sincerely, Richard Cor. CenturyLink”

I also contacted the FCC,

The FCC wrote back, “Your Ticket No. 1039896 was served on CenturyLink on Jun 20 for its review and response. CenturyLink will likely contact you in an effort to resolve your issue. A response is due to the FCC no later than 30 days from today. CenturyLink will respond to you directly by postal mail.”

Around and around we go.  Where we will stop, nobody knows.

It’s disgusting.

-30-

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