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Incorrect Cellular Surcharges


Incorrect Cellular Surcharges

Background info:

I live in Arizona, my wireless bill reflected surcharges for Washington D.C. I did use to live in D.C., but moved to AZ in April 2009. When I first noticed the discrepancy (late 2009, early 2010), I called into customer support and was told 'change your billing address, once done, we'll change your primary location on our side'. So I changed my billing address at that time, but as I noticed again tonight, the charges still reflected D.C. rates.


Fast forward to my recent call:

Let me preface this by saying the person I spoke with, Geraldo, was professional in taking my phone call. I explained the situation and it was determined that although my billing address was correct, my primary location had not been changed; apparently an option only available for AT&T to change. There are multiple surcharges billed for each phone line but two in particular I was referencing, 1) the location-specific 911 fee and 2) the state-specific cellular surcharge. I then expressed my desire to have the difference in charges credited back to the date I had changed my billing address (i.e. when I caught the issue).


Geraldo immediately was able to identify the difference between the 911 surcharges, $0.76/line per month in D.C. and $0.20/line per month in AZ. He then offered an approximate $60 credit: $0.56 x 3 (I have three lines/mobiles) x 12 months x 3 years. For the last piece, he rounded up to my moving date. I didn't ask for this, it was offered. However, the generosity is not lost on me.


"Great," I said, "now what about the cellular surcharge". Given the 911 fee was 350% higher in D.C. versus AZ, and that the cost of living is much higher in our nation's capital, I expected a larger credit per month to be identified for the surcharges. I was surprised and disappointed at what happened next. 


Geraldo couldn't find the information (it sounded like he was just searching the web). When I asked to speak with someone who did have the information, he then put me on hold to speak with his superior(s). The following reply from the resolution manager is paraphrased but it gets the gist of the statement across:


"We don't have access to that information. Tell the customer he can call his local tax collector to identify correct surcharge percentages. For resolution, he can either take the currently offered $60 credit, or if escalated, will only be offered a $25 credit from that point forward."


I was shocked that was the reply from a manager. There are three major problems with this statement:

  1. Correct information is unavailable. How is this possible? Cellular surcharges are billed to millions of AT&T customers each month, I'm willing to bet there's software that dictates the correct surcharges based on location. Why is this not available to resolve location issues with customers? I understand the department these two work in may not have access to the information, but I specifically requested to be put in contact with someone who does.
  2. Contact a tax collector. If you want the correct information, go find it yourself. Unreal, I've effectively been told I should go find out what AT&T should be charging me... then call AT&T back and let them know. Really?!?! I'm the customer. I'm not on the payroll, if I were, then maybe I'd be looking for the information. There's a certain amount of trust customers must have that the company they're buying from is charging the correct applicable state/federal service charges. It shouldn't be unreasonable to expect said company to have that information readily available. If you're going to bill me for it, make sure you can back it up.
  3. The billing credit ultimatum. Translation: Take the $60 credit and shut up. If you press the issue, we'll drop the credit to $25. I can't express the amount of disbelief I had that this statement came from a person who manages customer resolution. It amounts to nothing more than a game of chicken. I'll reiterate, Geraldo was professional in attempting to rectify the situation. I was embarassed for him that he had to relay such a ridiculous statement.

To finalize, the surcharges are still unresolved. My last option is to wait until next month's bill is posted, then identify the difference in surcharges between bills. And I realize this went unfixed for way too long. I'll be honest, I don't look at my AT&T bill every month. Lesson learned.


In posting my situation, I'm expecting someone at AT&T to read and offer additional help on identifying the correct surcharge. There's a gamble to this also, Arizona may have higher surcharges. If that's the case, fine; let it wipe out the previously offered credit. Just bill me the correct amount.


If this doesn't find the eyes of an AT&T representative able to help, then I hope other customers can glean insight from my experience when dealing with their own billing issues.


Message 1 of 3

Re: Incorrect Cellular Surcharges

Wow, I'm not sure is have offered the same resolution. There are resources avail to reps to find the correct information. Is maybe call care back and hopefully get a correct resolution? It does pay to look at your bill every month, I had the same issue moving from one state to another. And I hope that the usage address was corrected as well so that this doesn't happen again. Smiley Happy good luck.
Employee Contributor*
*I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent AT&T's position, strategies or opinions.
Message 2 of 3

Re: Incorrect Cellular Surcharges

i know this doesnt really answer your question about the customer service issue refering to local gvt to dispute taxes and sur charges is not good customer service experience.  There are some things we can credit this would be one of them. More than likely,flat  credit would be prefered instead of rerating the taxes which would take customer care for ever to find the tax information lol Smiley Tongue





Federal Universal Service Fund =  4.4523%
State Telecom/Sales Surcharge  = 6.6%
County Telecom/Sales Surcharge = Varies by locality
State 911 Fee                  =  .20/month per mobile phone
Local Public Utility Surcharge = Rate varies by jurisdiction
City Telecom/Sales Surcharge or
City District Telecom Surcharge = Varies by locality

washington dc

Federal Universal Service Fund =  4.4523%
State Sales Tax                =  6.0%
DC Cellular Surcharge
 Residential                   =  10.00%
State 911 Fee                  =   .76/per month per mobile
DC Cellular Surcharge
Non-Residential                =  11%


I am an AT&T employee and the postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent AT&T’s positions, strategies or opinions.
Message 3 of 3
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