AT&T is Doing It Again

On my March 2007 bill from AT&T there was a new charge.

The charge for $1.09 was called Other AT&T Long DIstance.

I called AT&T Customer Service at 1-877-469-2355 and asked the representative why I was being charged an extra $1.09.

She said it was a new tax required by the FCC.

I told her she was wrong and read to her from the back of the bill where it said:

Carrier Cost Recovery Fee:
This fee helps recover costs for providing long
distance service including national regulatory
fees and programs, connection and account
servicing. This fee is not a tax or charge
required by the government. For more information,
please call the number on your bill.

Here is that section of the bill.

She didn't know how to respond so she said she would have a supervisor call me, sometime in the next 24 - 48 hours.

Since I have a strict policy against sitting by the phone waiting for someone to call me, when the supervisor did call he left a message which said the charge had been made in error and that it would be reversed on my next bill or the one after that.

This is the real AT&T supervisor's message.

The April bill came and the charge had not been reversed.

Then the May bill came and the refund was not in that one, either.

I called AT&T (May 25, 2007).

The Representative was a real ice queen.

She said to reduce my payment by $1.09 and that there was nothing she could do for me.

I pointed out that I had been told it was supposed to have been taken care of already, and since it wasn't, why should I believe her?

She refused to discuss it further and offered to have a Supervisor call me (sometime in the next 24 - 48 business hours).

SBC really has put the old AT&T back together, including their snotty attitude.

I called back and talked to another Representative.

She looked at my account and found no record of a refund having been entered.

She entered it, but the other information she gave me contradicted the other information I had been given so I asked to talk to a Supervisor.

This time, one was available.

She was not very helpful, either, other than to confirm that even though AT&T owed a refund to everyone in Nevada who had AT&T service, their policy was to not give it unless the customer asked for it.

I asked to talk to her Supervisor. Supposedly, she will call me sometime next week.

I called again and got another Representative.

She went back to the old explanation that it was a tax required by the FCC.

I corrected her.

When she asked what she could do to resolve the situation I told her that I wanted everyone who has been overcharged to receive a refund without having to ask for it.

She said she couldn't do that.

Then she read me a memo that all the AT&T Representatives had gotten in March. It said the AT&T charge was an error and that everyone should be given a refund (without asking for it) in the next three billing cycles.

Note that the Supervisor who left me the message in March said two billing cycles.

I asked her if she would email me the memo and she promised she would.

An hour passed and no email.

I called again.

By then the AT&T Representatives in Nevada had gone home so I was connected to a Representative in California, who was friendly and helpful. They should put him in charge of Training.

He looked up the memo and emailed it to me.

Here it is. Out of regard for the Representative's privacy (and mine) I have removed the actual email addresses. Also, because he had to cut-and-paste it from an html file on AT&T's internal web site the headings might not be exactly right.

AT&T LD Carrier Cost Recovery Fee - Billing Error

Impacted States: CA & NV

Internal Impact: All Frontline Representatives

Date Defect Occurred: March Bill Rounds

Title: AT&T LD Carrier Cost Recovery Fee - Billing Error

MetPro Reference:

CA: AT&T Long Distance

NV: AT & T Long Distance (Consumer)

EORS Reference:

Key Word Search: at&t ld tax

Select Matching the Exact Phrase

Defect Notification: * Effective 2/22/07, AT&T Long Distance began billing the Carrier Cost Recovery Fee (CCRF).

o The rate of $0.99 is applied each month a customer is billed for AT&T LD Interstate and/or international charges (usage and/or MRC).

o CCRF helps recover costs for providing long distance service, including national regulatory fees and programs, connection, and account servicing.

* AT&T LD customers with the following plans have been billed the CCRF fee in error:

Plan Name USOC TeLD Code Res LD Default (MTS) - with no billed Interstate and/or International usage N/A

RESBASMTS SBC@home Employee Discount N/A

RESEMPBOT Block of Time 600 Minutes (Retirees OOF/OOR) N/A


* AT&T Long Distance is in the process of issuing adjustments for the CCRF billed in error.

o Credits will appear on customer's bills within 2-3 bill cycles.

* Other instances of the CCRF being billed in error are under investigation and will also be included in the recovery.

* Service Representative responsibilities:

o Apologize for any inconvenience and explain that they will see credit within 2-3 billing cycles.

o Do not make adjustments on the accounts where CCRF was billed in error.

So, there you have it.

If you live in California or Nevada look at your March AT&T bill. If there is a charge for $1.09 (or $0.99 or whatever) call AT&T and tell them you want it refunded. There may be some plans where the charge is proper, but don't tell them. Make them prove it.

If they tell you ok, just reduce your payment, don't fall for it. If they mess with you the way they messed with me their system will report that you have underpaid your bill and hit you with late fees which will be difficult to deal with later.

If they say it was a tax required by the FCC tell them they are wrong and read them the memo that they were supposed to read, and obviously didn't.

If they want to know where you got the memo, direct them to this article ( and tell them, "Jed says Hi."

BTW, AT&T Long Distance tried this same thing several years ago when I was living in San Jose. I dumped them and went with SBC Long Distance.

Now they are doing it again.

Unfortunately, SBC bought AT&T and there isn't much of an alternative other than to go with VOIP.

Jed Margolin
Virginia City Highlands, NV
May 25, 2007