Phone Company Explains Inspection Fee on Customers’ Bill

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(Memphis) Every dollar matters to Melodie Sulcer.

She is fighting leukemia and living on a fixed disability income.

After reading her AT&T phone bill she was surprised to find a new, $2.00 fee for no apparent reason on her home phone.

“For elderly people or anyone on a fixed income, what is this charge,” she asked. “What are you charging me for, that you’re not just trying to rip me off or something and then you’re going to keep charging me for stuff and you’re not going to question it?”

Sulcer called the company to find out about the extra charge for an inspection fee.

They couldn’t explain it initially, but after a couple of hours on the phone she was able to get an answer.

“It may seem trivial to some people,” she said. “I’m not a cheap skate. It’s the principle that you’re trying to charge me and not tell me what it’s for.”

The fee is to pay for regulation inspections the state of Tennessee imposes on phone companies through the Tennessee Regulatory Authority.

By law, AT&T can pass the cost onto its customers.

The two dollars was a one-time, retroactive fee for the last couple of years.

An AT&T spokesperson says a recurring fee is coming to pay for new inspection costs. Sulcer says she can handle paying a little more, but wants to make sure she knows where her dollars are going.

“I feel like the public needs to know,” she said. “They should have put an explanation on the bill because I guess they expect people to just pay the bill and not ever question the fees.”

AT&T IS not sure how much the new recurring fee will be or when it will go into effect but it’ will be sometime this year.

There is legislation making its way through Nashville that would drop the rate private phone companies have to pay the state.

That could mean lower prices for anyone with a home phone.