State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

Summary: Wireless companies want to advertise cell phone plans without including the full monthly cost, which includes hefty taxes and fees to state and federal agencies. The Supreme court declined the case.

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Wireless companies want to advertise cell phone plans without including the full monthly cost, which includes hefty taxes and fees to state and federal agencies. The Supreme court declined the case.

From Cnet by Anne Broache: Supreme Court rejects cell-phone tax case

The case at hand, which pitted Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA against state utility regulators, centers on whether states should be allowed to forbid wireless carriers from breaking out various state and local taxes as line-item fees on a customer's bill.

...The wireless companies, naturally, maintain they should be able to establish a visible separation between the base prices of their services and the fees required by various regulators. States and localities have increasingly been passing laws prohibiting those line items expressly in order to "hide" arguably unpopular taxes and fees from consumers, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile said in their brief to the high court.

I have no sympathy for either side. Cell phone rates are way to high anyway.

The wireless companies show those "teaser" rates when the full price is always much higher. Let's have truth in advertising and show the full cost of monthly service.

The state and federal agencies are in cahoots with each other anyway, to make sure that no technologies get around their stranglehold on wireless communications. Regulation means you have the government on your side and competition is pushed well to the outside because of onerous requirements.

This stranglehold enables a digital divide that is bad for innovation and bad for Silicon Valley, imho.

Topics: Wi-Fi, Banking, Government, Government US, Hardware, Mobility, Networking

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28 comments
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  • Show the taxes on the bill!

    Allowing governmental bodies to squash the explicit listing of taxes on cell phone bills would be like allowing them to forbid gas stations from posting those signs on the pump which break out the various taxes which contribute to the price of a gallon of gas. Tax the hell out of the citizenry, and let private industry take the heat.

    On the other hand, what cell phone companies do is like a gas station advertising on the sign and the pump only the price of the gas itself, and then when you go inside to pay you get told "And with taxes that comes to..."

    Make the cell companies state the true total price, and don't let the bureaucrats and legislators hide how much they pick our pockets.
    mmoran@...
    • Who is hiding this?

      Keep in mind that in the USA we get the government we elect (at least we like to hope so), and so the folks hiding their taxes are doing basically what we want them to do.

      The fairest and most visible way to pay taxes is on income, and that's the one people seem to want to see cut, to replace it with hidden taxes and fees.

      Anyway, I agree: taxes and fees must be listed separately on the bill, cell phone costs are plenty high enough. I'd like advertising to be required to list the actual cost right next to the promotional cost. If they just want to put an asterisk in the ad to indicate "other taxes and fees apply," that's ok - for the ad. But I hate just seeing the promotional cost listed. That's never struck me as fair.
      hmoulding@...
  • Full Disclosure for Cellphone Price Advertising

    Absolutely, the full cost (monthly, annual, hourly, or whatever) should be included in cellphone ads. But, the applicable Federal, State, or local fees/taxes should also be broken out -- stop hiding governmental costs.
    MentorCtl
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    YES, next question!
    ConnieS
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    Who cares what the cell phone company does with the money? Disclose 100% of the cost!
    cpa1227
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    Yes, They sould give to average state and fed. taxes, for each program. They present.
    tkdanner@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    I guess we can hope the class action going on in california over contracts and early termination fees bares some fruit. Cell phone companies have paid for their networks years ago there should be no more rapacious fees for early termination. I understand they're subsidizing the cost of the phones but they're ending up with a windfall all the same. At least for me the cell is a better value than the landline but it's still way too expensive.
    suemccartin
  • Sometimes the taxes are quite alot........

    I had that experience with a local provider. Bill was X amount but they don't bother to mention the additional 12 bucks in taxes, over a year that's more than 150 bucks just in taxes undoubtedly a ripoff but it made the plan less of a deal than it sounded like.
    suemccartin
  • Full disclosure...

    At the very least... the companies should be required to:

    * State the monthly promotional cost of the service -- with a link to their web site that shows the cost + taxes and fees (could be in the form of a "calculator")

    * State the monthly cost AFTER the promotional period ends... also with the link...

    * Itemize their own charges, and all taxes and fees imposed, on the bill...

    * Eliminate cell phone service contracts and early termination fees... unless one rents equipment (and who ever heard of cell phone rentals???)

    The States should:

    * Fully disclose on their own web sites taxes and fees and where the money goes and how it is used -- in an easy to understand, 6th grade English level

    Full disclosure at all levels.
    casachs
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    Yes. That's why we pay $75 for a $35 plan.
    mhoppe@...
  • Good grief!

    Why can't everyone read the fine print? All telecommunications has taxes, and no one's required to state explicitly what the tax amount's going to be because it's different depending on where you are. Sometimes it's different from one side of town to the next! What we really need is tax uniformity and parity such that any cell, landline or other carrier could say "29.95" and mean it. Right now, can't be done.
    monkity@...
    • Good Grief!! Absolutely

      What is it that people are simply too lazy to do their "homework", read the fine print and do a bit of research...

      It's all become too easy... spoonfeed me please... Oh and while you're at it, could you ring this number for me too.... :)

      Shame!
      Jacdeb6009@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms .....

    I just paid my landline bill. Let's see:

    Residence line 16.09
    Federal Subscriber line charge 6.50
    That's for monthly service 22.50

    Now the fees and taxes:
    Federal excise tax 0.68
    Local communications services tax 1.00
    State (FL) gross receipts tax .38
    Telecommunications relay service .11
    County 911 Funding fee .50
    Federal universal service fee .66
    Fees and taxes total 3.33

    Landline charges 25.93

    Taxes = 14.8% of my landline charges

    And we wonder why we get [b]nickled and dimed to death!![/b]

    If the states and localities don't like it; AFAIAC they can [b]stick it!!!![/b] Let them explain [b]why[/b] we have to pay all of these dammed fees and taxes.

    Never the less; doing this will shed some light on the expense of cell phones; since the companies can not blame their high rates on taxes and fees.
    fatman65535
    • Full Disclosure

      My phone taxes are not technically hidden, but are listed on my bill. However, they are difficult to decipher as to where they go, why they are charged, and who or what benefits from them.

      These 'fees' are taxes just like any of the rest of the taxes (a skunk by any other name still stinks). These items P me off every month! I believe the companies should be forced not only to list the taxes before purchasing the service, but to also define the fee taxes and the rest of the taxes as to where they go, why they are levied, and who benefits and how. They should also be required to list the same each month on their bill. All fees and taxes are a cost of doing business and should be disclosed. wh
      brasspounder.wk@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    All cell phone companies shud be made to cancel all contracts renewals and do away with contracts for new uses and go from day to day to the user.
    This will make them more competitive and truthful in advertising and spoken word.
    xrayman@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    Its just crazy how a cell phone company can sucker you into a two year contract at $39.95 a mo. But when you get the bill its closer to $75.00. Also contracts should be nullified if the company dosn,t deliver all the services it says it can.
    xrayman@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    I think every company not only cellphone should disclose the total bill up front or the customer should be able to back out of the contract.
    cen61347@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    Damn right and not only cell phone companies but anybody that sells services to the public that are susceptable to state, local and fed. taxes
    jimdavis3@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    absolutely show all costs!
    randy2b2@...
  • RE: State and wireless firms squabble over blame for high cellphone rates

    YES ALL STATE AND LOCAL FEES SHOULD BED BROKE OUT
    tim_d30@...