new AT&T Wireless administration fee

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Be on the lookout for a new fee on your bill starting May 1. Fee is around 69 cents per line per month if I recall. If you call them, they'll waive the fee for the rest of your contract.

The more important question is: can I get out of my contract because of this? I've heard both sides of the story where everyone is suddenly a lawyer, but I would like to concrete evidence that this will in fact let me out of my contract.

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Sister filed BBB dispute 7/17 got call yesterday that she's out of contract. Thx FW!

belizeans (Aug. 07, 2013 @ 8:10a) |

I am getting at least a few people who are PMing me telling me they are going to arbitration. I just want to reiterate a... (more)

magika (Aug. 21, 2013 @ 8:30p) |

Don't give up. 
I filed past the deadline and got a rejection letter from ATT.   Filed an online complain with my States A... (more)

jmpjr (Oct. 15, 2013 @ 7:46p) |


I think this is a YMMV situation. Depends on who you get.

Thanks for posting such a financy financial financetastic post here in FWF--where the last F stands for finance.

raringvt said:   Thanks for posting such a financy financial financetastic post here in FWF--where the last F stands for finance.

Since when does giving someone a hard time for posting something completely unrelated to finance get red around here? Seriously, a 69 cent fee on a cell phone plan has nothing at all to do with finance.

raringvt said:   
Since when does giving someone a hard time for posting something completely unrelated to finance get red around here? Seriously, a 69 cent fee on a cell phone plan has nothing at all to do with finance.


It does if it gets you out of a contract without an ETF.

I suspect that in most cases, they'll voluntarily waive the fee / unilateral change in contract and then claim they haven't changed the contract.

I'd wait for them to put the fee on a monthly bill, and then claim that they have clearly changed the contract terms and I want out.

Thanks for the info. Fees are going out of hand. What's next? Call center training fee?

Having said that, if they waive the fee if you call, it is unlikely that you can use it as an excuse to get out of contract.

When Verizon did this a year or two ago I tried to get out of the ETF and they would not do it - they would only waive it for the duration of my remaining contract. Sounds like AT&T is doing the same thing. However, I was able to get out of my contract with them by going to arbitration. You will win arbitration assuming AT&T's "material change" clause doesn't discretely define what the term means. You just have to make sure you stick to the argument in arbitration that for you the fee increase materially impacts your capacity to pay your monthly bill and the contract states thats all that is required to be released.

If AT&T is anything like Verizon, once they receive your pre arbitration brief (we exchanged briefs a few weeks ahead of the scheduled hearing) they will settle with you and you'll get a little cash out of it. It probably took me about 3 hours to write the brief, but I do arbitration part time for a living - probably assume 8 to 10 hours otherwise. That type of time investment may not be worth it for you.

kvs25 said:   Be on the lookout for a new fee on your bill starting May 1. Fee is around 69 cents per line per month if I recall. If you call them, they'll waive the fee for the rest of your contract.

....


What's the argument to get them to reverse this.

magika said:   When Verizon did this a year or two ago I tried to get out of the ETF and they would not do it - they would only waive it for the duration of my remaining contract. Sounds like AT&T is doing the same thing. However, I was able to get out of my contract with them by going to arbitration. You will win arbitration assuming AT&T's "material change" clause doesn't discretely define what the term means. You just have to make sure you stick to the argument in arbitration that for you the fee increase materially impacts your capacity to pay your monthly bill and the contract states thats all that is required to be released.

If AT&T is anything like Verizon, once they receive your pre arbitration brief (we exchanged briefs a few weeks ahead of the scheduled hearing) they will settle with you and you'll get a little cash out of it. It probably took me about 3 hours to write the brief, but I do arbitration part time for a living - probably assume 8 to 10 hours otherwise. That type of time investment may not be worth it for you.


would you mind sharing what you wrote (if you still have it)? I'd love to do this

The guy I spoke with tried to tell me that it wasn't a change that affected my bill and that all the other carriers are now charging an "AT&T Wireless administration fee". what an idiot


att (20.38kB)
Disclaimer
also here's the full text

From ATT legal: "IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE SUMMARY..."
Now, my customer service summary does not include the new fee obviously, since it's a few months old. So that means that I CAN cancel without penalty?

1.3 Can AT&T Change My Terms And Rates?

We may change any terms, conditions, rates, fees, expenses, or charges regarding your Services at any time. We will provide you with notice of material changes (other than changes to governmental fees, proportional charges for governmental mandates, roaming rates or administrative charges) either in your monthly bill or separately. You understand and agree that State and Federal Universal Service Fees and other governmentally imposed fees, whether or not assessed directly upon you, may be increased based upon the government's or our calculations.

IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE, BEYOND THE LIMITS SET FORTH IN YOUR CUSTOMER SERVICE SUMMARY, OR IF WE MATERIALLY DECREASE THE GEOGRAPHICAL AREA IN WHICH YOUR AIRTIME RATE APPLIES (OTHER THAN A TEMPORARY DECREASE FOR REPAIRS OR MAINTENANCE), WE’LL DISCLOSE THE CHANGE AT LEAST ONE BILLING CYCLE IN ADVANCE (EITHER THROUGH A NOTICE WITH YOUR BILL, A TEXT MESSAGE TO YOUR DEVICE, OR OTHERWISE), AND YOU MAY TERMINATE THIS AGREEMENT WITHOUT PAYING AN EARLY TERMINATION FEE OR RETURNING OR PAYING FOR ANY PROMOTIONAL ITEMS, PROVIDED YOUR NOTICE OF TERMINATION IS DELIVERED TO US WITHIN THIRTY (30) DAYS AFTER THE FIRST BILL REFLECTING THE CHANGE.

If you lose your eligibility for a particular rate plan, we may change your rate plan to one for which you qualify.

I have uploaded a copy of the brief I used (minus my personal details) here. Few things to note:

- You need to obviously substitute the contract language with the AT&T language.
- Argument D doesn't apply (this was specific to Verizon - they changed the contract language in their favor during the process, which proved they knew they were wrong), Argument A may not apply but is likely to - they will likely claim its not arbitriable.
- You must contact them within 30 days of the fee change (I believe AT&T has the same language) so before the end of this month. Document it very well - get the customer services reps name and ID number. They wont actually fix the problem, they are trained to tell you what they already have, but you need to get it on the record that you are declaring the fee to be materially adverse within the time frame specified.
- Flow of argument is simple: (1) contract provides they wont increase the fees in a way that is materially adverse to you ("beyond the limits set forth in the customer service summary" - obviously check to make sure it doesn't say they can do this first), (2) they did so and you notified them within the required time frame that you found it adverse, and (3) the language involved here is clear ("clear everyday language" are good keywords to use as its a standard often used in arbitration).

Make sure you give the appearance of taking this very seriously to ATT, demand a in person hearing through the American Arbitration Association and request the proposed arbitrator provide a resume. Carefully look over the resume and google them - if you find decisions in favor of ATT on google, reject and keep doing it until you find one that has ruled in favor of consumers. Reject anyone who looks like a full time consumer industry arbitrator (all experience with consumer industry only), it increases the odds that they are in the pocket of the industry. In all likelihood they will settle once they see the brief. If they dont you are still highly likely (>90% in my opinion) to win assuming the arbitrator is fair (a pretty good assumption in most cases if you do what I said above).

You just gotta love these "fees" - buck here, half buck there... They make them just low enough so that you would not bother. Then, since you have some 100 million subscribers, that adds to about $1 billion per year nicely!

(I called and they waved the fee - after a 5 min wait)
I am on the phone with ATT and the CSR didn't know about this new future fee. She had to ask her MGR and she was trained on the new fee. No problem they waved the future fee for the rest of my contract.

One more reason to go prepaid.
NO BS fees like this one.

thetobster said:   also here's the full textAnd here's the rest of it from that link:Additional Charges said: Administrative Fee (Consumer and Individual Responsibility User (IRU) lines only)

The Administrative Fee helps defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, including but not limited to: (a) charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers; and (b) charges associated with cell site rents and maintenance.
What a bunch of crap. They're just passing their regular business expenses on to the consumer.

AT&T has a customer base of 47million. A fee of $0.61/line/month = $344million per year in additional revenue.

When I called, I was told that section 1.3 of the AT&T contract only applies to existing fees. According to my CSR, I am not able to terminate the contract with no ETF if the fee is a new fee. Section 1.3 only applies to existing fees. What a bunch of BS...

Next up - sending a "Notice of Dispute" with AT&T from section 2.2(2) of the AT&T contract:
http://www.att.com/public_affairs/long_distance_news/product_ref... as well as the Customer Service Summary, Contract, etc...

On the plus side, they get an extra $.61 a month from most customers.

On the minus side, some customers force them to not charge the $.61 until their contract expires.

Hmm, I don't see any real minus side to ATT, unless a significant portion of their customer base cancels after ATT's unilateral change/breach of the existing contract.

ATT voided the old contract the day they sent notice of the change in price.

livedog said:   AT&T has a customer base of 47million. A fee of $0.61/line/month = $344million per year in additional revenue.

When I called, I was told that section 1.3 of the AT&T contract only applies to existing fees. According to my CSR, I am not able to terminate the contract with no ETF if the fee is a new fee. Section 1.3 only applies to existing fees. What a bunch of BS...

Next up - sending a "Notice of Dispute" with AT&T from section 2.2(2) of the AT&T contract:
http://www.att.com/public_affairs/long_distance_news/product_ref... as well as the Customer Service Summary, Contract, etc...


That is the CSR trained response but as you note it is total BS. The language of "IF WE INCREASE THE PRICE OF ANY OF THE SERVICES TO WHICH YOU SUBSCRIBE..." doesn't specify that the price increase has to be from existing fees only, and no fair arbitrator is going to buy it. Make sure you document all the CSR information, since you have to notify them within 30 days that you don't agree to the change and they may claim you failed to do so. If you are feeling particularly paranoid (and you probably should be), send a certified letter to AT&T stating you have noticed the fee increase, dont agree with it, and request that they follow the contract terms and let you cancel the account without paying an ETF.

My suspicion is when you file the notice of dispute is that they will respond saying its not arbitrable for some reason they will make up (Verizon's reason was "you cant arbitrate future fees - BS when its part of a monthly payment contract), as that is normally the first line of defense in arbitration (causing as many procedural blocks as possible). They hope most people will drop it when they claim its not arbitrable.

By the way if anyone wants help adapting the brief I linked earlier, feel free to PM me (I have to remember to look for that PM notice...). If I don't respond to you in a few days post here that you PMed me, as that means I am probably overlooking the PM icon (I normally never look there when posting on FWF). I might even be able to write a AT&T specific memo if someone could post what the "CUSTOMER SERVICE SUMMARY" is (I don't have AT&T so can't look it up myself) - or is that specific to each person?

The standard contract language does NOT support their position that they can add any new fees they like UNLESS the "customer service summary" has language that effect.

livedog said:   AT&T has a customer base of 47million. A fee of $0.61/line/month = $344million per year in additional revenue.

When I called, I was told that section 1.3 of the AT&T contract only applies to existing fees. According to my CSR, I am not able to terminate the contract with no ETF if the fee is a new fee. Section 1.3 only applies to existing fees. What a bunch of BS...

Next up - sending a "Notice of Dispute" with AT&T from section 2.2(2) of the AT&T contract:
http://www.att.com/public_affairs/long_distance_news/product_ref... as well as the Customer Service Summary, Contract, etc...


Oh now that is interesting. You are contractually required to pay any "new fees" they feel like imposing in the future. That will not withstand arbitration. As someone else said, yet another reason to go prepaid.

KayK said:   One more reason to go prepaid.
NO BS fees like this one.


^This

/thread

magika said:   
My suspicion is when you file the notice of dispute is that they will respond saying its not arbitrable for some reason they will make up


Oh, you're saying, in writing, that the arbitration agreement doesn't cover my dispute?
Thank you.
Here's your court summons, complete with request for certification as a class action for all former users who were assessed an early termination fee between the dates of...

duplicate

magika said:   By the way if anyone wants help adapting the brief I linked earlier, feel free to PM me (I have to remember to look for that PM notice...). If I don't respond to you in a few days post here that you PMed me, as that means I am probably overlooking the PM icon (I normally never look there when posting on FWF). I might even be able to write a AT&T specific memo if someone could post what the "CUSTOMER SERVICE SUMMARY" is (I don't have AT&T so can't look it up myself) - or is that specific to each person?

The standard contract language does NOT support their position that they can add any new fees they like UNLESS the "customer service summary" has language that effect.

the customer summary is essentially a copy of your first (and future) bill which includes the plan rate plus the existing fees that are implemented at the time of signing a contract. You sign the contract understanding the fees won't change (unless its gov-related, then it can fluctuate). I'll try to add an image of my customer summary when I'm on my laptop.

I have a prepaid AT&T phone and was just charged a $0.75 charge last night. WTF!? Anyway for a prepaid customer to stop this?

DarthEnol said:   I have a prepaid AT&T phone and was just charged a $0.75 charge last night. WTF!? Anyway for a prepaid customer to stop this?

What's the reason for the charge? 411? Ringtone download?

thetobster said:   also here's the full text

Where did you see this? I've looked online and can't find it anywhere. My newest bill (which cut mid April and was due May 2nd) doesn't include this fee.

clutchcargo777 said:   thetobster said:   also here's the full text

Where did you see this? I've looked online and can't find it anywhere. My newest bill (which cut mid April and was due May 2nd) doesn't include this fee.


check your last bill before that. I found it near the end of the PDF.

This if from my Bill.

MOBILITY ADMINISTRATIVE FEE
Effective May 1, 2013, the Administrative Fee will be $0.61 per
line per month for Consumer and Individual Responsibility User
(IRU) lines. For more information about the Administrative Fee,
please visit att.com/additionalcharges.


I may look into prepaid... I don't really do that much with my phone to justify almost $90 a month.

Ok - certified notice of dispute sent!
It cost me a little less than $4... Now I'm committed!
I'll update here when I get a response.

After learning about the fee on this PM, I called AT&T right away. The first time I called and mention the fee, I got transferred 2 times and got disconnected. I called back the second time and asked the rep to either waive the fee or I wanted to speak to someone who will let me cancel all my lines without any ETF. The rep I spoke to refuse to give me the option of cancelling w/o ETF but he offered $10 discount for my sms package which will add up to $120 discount per year. I will subtract 25% from $120 per year due to the new ADmin impose fee, I net $90 per year. Thank you!!!

scripta said:   thetobster said:   also here's the full textAnd here's the rest of it from that link:Additional Charges said: Administrative Fee (Consumer and Individual Responsibility User (IRU) lines only)

The Administrative Fee helps defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, including but not limited to: (a) charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers; and (b) charges associated with cell site rents and maintenance.
What a bunch of crap. They're just passing their regular business expenses on to the consumer.


I'm wondering if this has something to do with rural phone exchanges that charge high interconnection fees (more particularly, a few of them in Iowa). The purpose is to help fund the higher cost of providing phone service in remote areas. But in recent years, some have taken advantage of this to offer "free" services, like conference calls and international calling. Needless to say, AT&T wasn't too happy about it and has tried to get out of paying for calls to these services. Maybe they've just resorted to putting it as a line item on customers' bills? (See wikipedia article on "traffic pumping")

Has nothing to do with rural charges.

And, everything to do with AT&T's ongoing efforts to prevent class action suits for its crooked activities by forcing arbitration on its customers. The out-of-the-blue addition of phoney fees to your bill would surely draw a class action suit or two--but, AT&T thinks it has that beat and it can do whatever it wants.

This fee is only a test. If it works, AT&T will be adding more and more "fees."

Good time to switch to prepaid. I love my prepaid service. No added fees or taxes and no cramming of illicit charges and services.

I have been on prepaid since 8/2008. the best decision so far and along came google voice. i've spent less than 500 in US phone bills since 8/2008.

refill my balance by going to callingmart and buy the refill card from there. they used to offer close to 10% off the refill card value, but no more now. i still save on the taxes.

I just got my AT&T iPhone5 contract cancelled ETF free. Thanks OP! They tried to weasel their way out.

AT&T: We did notify you 30 days in advance.
Me: Notification or not it's an adverse change.
AT&T: This is being charged off all our customers.
Me: You're charging me. That's what counts.
AT&T: All the other carriers charge this fee too.
Me: This contract is between you and me. I don't care.

I also got transferred and hung up on a few times. But now it's done.

Small warning: the manager who cancelled my service did so in the middle of my call without warning, which added another disconnect. It also means that I can't use my phone for another week or two until I get my final invoice and can get it unlocked and throw a T-Mobile SIM in. They are supposed to cancel at the end of the cycle which would have given me time to prepare.

Still. Small price to pay. $30/month pre-paid: here I come!

If they cancel the contract, does it terminate the service? I just got into a 2 year contract and don't want to lose the number if they cancel immediately.

TheWalL said:   If they cancel the contract, does it terminate the service? I just got into a 2 year contract and don't want to lose the number if they cancel immediately.

It did in my case. I don't know if I would have had the option to keep the contract. The lady turned my phone off in the middle of the phone call. I could hear her mumble: "OK. Write not here. Where's the toggle for ending service. Ah!"

*beeeep* -No carrier-

I don't think she actually meant to do that so I don't know if there would have been another option.

Beginning with the May 2013 bills, there is an Administration Fee in the amount of $0.61 per line. The Administrative Fee helps defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, including but not limited to the charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers, and charges associated with cell site rents and maintenance.



Charging the Administrative Fee is not considered a breach of contract. For some time some of our competitors have been assessing this type of charge to defray various costs, including network-related costs. They typically have done so with an administrative fee or charge. Until now, AT&T has not charged such a fee. The Administration Fees we collect will help defray a small portion of certain expenses. We are using a name for the fee that has become common in the industry.



Sincerely,


The above was from at&t when I asked for it to be waived.

Skipping 271 Messages...
Don't give up. 
I filed past the deadline and got a rejection letter from ATT.   Filed an online complain with my States Attorney General's a couple weeks ago. 

They gave ATT 10 business days to respond with supporting documents..... My contract was cancelled and I am allowed to go month to month. 



 



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