back to article AT&T adds 61¢ 'Mobility Administrative Fee' for users

US subscribers to AT&T's mobile network are getting an extra 61¢ "Mobility Administrative Fee" on their bills beginning in May. That's not a lot of money for individual users, but it adds up to over $40m a month in additional revenue for AT&T – around half a billion each year. The company has reportedly said its administrative …


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  1. Ryan 7

    I can't help but think

    they'd never get away with that sort of thing on this side of the pond.

    1. M Gale

      Re: I can't help but think

      Nope. They'd just increase the price opaquely and call it "inflation".

      1. DavCrav

        Re: I can't help but think

        "Nope. They'd just increase the price opaquely and call it "inflation"."

        There's nothing opaque about it. You get an e-mail or letter saying your charges are going up. At this point you know how much it costs again. There are no extra charges, no sales tax added on after the headline rate, you have the headline rate and that's it.

        However, I might not appreciate them being able to do it during my contract, although Vodafone couldn't put the charge on my contract up nearly as much as they seem to have done for new customers now, so it's not so bad.

      2. and-job

        Re: I can't help but think

        LOL, something that American companies seem to not grasp. Verizon tried it and then backed down. Then did it anyway several months later than schedule when the dust had settled. We Verizon customers are paying the 'administrative charge' but they just tacked it on months later and said it was always there. They just didn't say that the 10 cent fee was 12 times higher.

        If they would be just honest and say this is the charge all inclusive and be done with it then it would be okay but they have umpteen lines of taxes and miscellaneous fees they all add to the cost they advertise. Jeesh just tell us what the cost is out the door and not before the added gazillion taxes and fee's you tack on and we would all be happy as larry!

    2. goldcd


      Whilst the land of the free normally seems to get the non-shitty end of the stick in most situations, their phone system/charges are just 'weird'

      I was always a little confused when say Samsung announced a new handset for $500 say, I'd see these weird comments that they would never consider buying any phone over $99. Finally twigged that they hadn't actually considered the phone/contract could be separated (although in a world of non-GSM, that's probably not too far off).

      GSM really is a quite marvellous thing and a lovely example of why vertical integration/walled-gardens DON'T benefit the end user.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Yep

        trouble is AT&T is GSM, so is T-Mobile. It's just Verizon and Sprint that have the non-GSM systems but wait...

        ...Verizon, as they switch over to total-LTE will be GSM as well, it uses a Sim Card too and LTE is an extension of the GSM system. The CDMA system will eventually be switched off that Verizon uses as they switch people over to VoLTE for voice and data which is expected to be completed by the end of 2014.

        The only compatibility issue they have is that while they will use LTE they are not compatible with Europe because they use a different frequency.

        Though Verizon strange enough the Apple iPhone 5 is compatible is with the GSM 3G system while the AT&T iPhone 5 that is a pure GSM device is not compatible with the European 3G nor the European LTE system and only the old 2G standard.

        As always its a case of SNAFU.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I can't help but think

      Yes they do get away on this side of the pond.

      BT does exactly the same when you don't pay with direct debit, they charge over £3 for a processing charge

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I can't help but think

        Odd, I see it the other way round, you get a discount for paying by Direct Debit rather than be charged for using other methods...

    4. JeffyPooh

      Re: I can't help but think

      Well, to start with: it'd be sixty-one pence.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    Admin fee?

    Then just where the hell is the rest of the damn bill going to? Who's been administrating it? Flying fucking monkeys?!

    <obvious ain't it?

    1. Ole Juul

      Re: Admin fee?

      It's all just con talk. Now why can't I charge them an admin fee? I go to a lot of trouble making phone calls and feel that I should be compensated. After all, if I didn't do that, the telephone company wouldn't exist, so in a sense I'm working for them. Of course I have the advantage of being able to take my business elsewhere, and they don't, so I guess I should feel sorry for them.

      1. Gavin King

        Re: Admin fee?

        So you will charge a pity fee as well?

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      Re: Short Memories

      Given the state of at&t's customer service I think you owe flying monkeys an apology!

      You are however entirely correct, this is just a back door price rise to keep headline pricing static but still make more money. Scumbags. Yes it's only 61c but it's still as dishonest.

      1. and-job

        Re: Short Memories

        and that 61 cents amounts to more than $1billion to them a year collectively for all their customers. Supposedly to support the improvements to their networks.

        If it was a normal company then people would ask, Why can't you support the expansion of your service through normal charges without tacking on back door charges?

        It's bad enough that they forced customers to pay for unlimited talk minutes and text messaging even though these were services that are declining with mobile service. Yet more back door increases in their service charge.

  3. Anony-mouse

    Typical AT&T to screw their customers

    And that's part of the reason why I dumped AT&T for Verizon, then dumped Verizon for a Straight Talk pay-as-you-go plan. Fuckers keep adding more and more nickel and dime charges which together add up to some noticeable money extra each month. And the beauty of my Straight Talk plan is that I use AT&T's network for unlimited everything.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Typical AT&T to screw their customers

      However since March of this year AT&T have decided the "unlimited data" is 1.5Gb per month if you are using Straight Talk by their count with no appeal.

      I'd add that if you've ever had to navigate the AT&T web site to try and do something to your account then you will find that it's a total farking nightmare - but at least it's better than calling them up on the phone. That's even worse.

      AT&T is a disaster on wheels - "Customer Service? No, we haven't hear of it"

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Typical AT&T to screw their customers

        "Customer Service? No, we haven't hear of it"

        Of course they have, but the idea is to discourage people calling up, without discouraging them so much they take their business elsewhere.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Typical AT&T to screw their customers

        "Unlimited" = 1.5 GB per month? No, a certain Canadian telco secreted defined "Unlimited" as being not more than 5GB. In the end, after involving the CCTS, we reached a perfectly lovely agreement.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Typical AT&T to screw their customers

          Verizon was always 3Gb. Even when they first introduced 3G it was 3G then when they started getting heavy traffic through their substandard 3G system it became an undisclosed limit that suited Verizon.

          Limits on unlimited is merely a game. Most Wireless telco's are like a sideshow shell game, it is always in their favor!

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just dropped those clowns

    Nothing but headaches with AT&T for the past three years. Even had to take them to the PSC, which forced them to stop over-billing me. Would not recommend them to anyone based on my experience.

  5. Herby

    A billion here, a billion there...

    Pretty soon it adds up to "real money".

    Put this in the category of a "tax", where AT&T (a modem test command!) is both the tax collector and the beneficiary of the tax. Yes, it will be raised. This is just a nice way to up the price. The problem now is that we've gotten used to it.

    So, this just drops to the bottom line.

  6. William Boyle
    Thumb Down

    Death of a thousand cuts

    You don't notice one little nick, then the next, and the next ... pretty soon you are bleeding to death!

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Lance 3

      Re: Death of a thousand cuts

      It's just a flesh wound.

  7. OllyL

    Unless they're slow updating their website, I note that they've not added this tax to their pre-pay service (GoPhone)...One would have thought the Administrative fee would be higher for non-contract users (which also doesn't seem to fall victim to the hoardes of other fees lumped onto contract users)

    1. Mad Chaz

      You'd think so, until you stop a second to think about it. The contract user can't leave easilly, or without a stupid high penalty, where the pre-pay service can just not get a card next month.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward


        Price increase for those "on contract"? Really?

        I'd call that a broken contract. Opportunity to walk away without penalty, although you can discuss what to do about the phone. Wipe it and hand it back to them is one option.

        Rogers in Canada tried to impose a new $2 monthly fee for continuing the paper billing (paper billing that is part of my contract). After I explained the implications of them breaking our contract (including a formal complaint to the CCTS [Canada specific], they waived the new fee. Contracts work BOTH ways.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    It ain't exactly Dane-geld

    But the sentiments fit well enough:


    And that is called paying the Dane-geld;

    But we've proved it again and again,

    That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld

    You never get rid of the Dane.


    It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,

    For fear they should succumb and go astray;

    So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,

    You will find it better policy to say: --


    "We never pay any-one Dane-geld,

    No matter how trifling the cost;

    For the end of that game is oppression and shame,

    And the nation that plays it is lost!"


    Not of course that AT&T seems generally thought of as a blushing virgin, easily led astray. Great Whore of Babylon, drunk with the blood of saints, maybe...

    1. Tom 13

      Re: It ain't exactly Dane-geld

      Except it ain't Dane-geld. In this case it's more a case of government-geld, and they're just passing along the cost. I suppose to put it in the Kipling context it would be Brit-geld.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm done with this game...

    After 20 years in the good ol' USA. Thanks and good bye f*ucking the little guy over....

  10. David Kelly 2

    DST Fee?

    They forgot to charge a fee for the cost of administering Daylight Savings Time. It must cost something awful to have to change the clocks on all those towers nationwide.

    1. Rukario

      Re: DST Fee?

      They don't need any more ideas!

      1. Ole Juul

        Re: DST Fee?

        I'm sure it's already on their to-do list.

    2. Rampant Spaniel

      A deliming fee for cleaning bird crap off towers?

      I understand seperating out govt imposed charges but otherwise it should be a simple charge otherwise we end up with the airline situation where a 99p flight costs 200 quid.

      1. h3

        I think the price should be set for 2 years (If that is the contract). After it ends then they can do what they like increase it or whatever but increasing it during the contract is complete crap. When they are deciding what rates to use they should take stuff like inflation over the term of the contract or whatever into consideration.

  11. Hoe

    Caller Display...

    This reminds me on the caller display charges fixed line companies produce over here for "Administration" reasons, honestly that tick box that a BT Employee has to tick does cost £3 p/m to "Administer" monthly at least as we all know computers are incapable of remembering something for longer than 30 days and it certainly doesn't go through the same system anyway, oh wait.

  12. alan buxey
    Thumb Down

    we'll see, noone will leave for this sub $1 fee? but it adds up...and smallest changes can break the camels back - in this case, this little 'smart trick' might lose them customer goodwill...and actual customers. its not a 'smart trick' to gain money if eg 10% of your customers jump ship...ask Sky or Virgin about customer churn when they mess around their current customers and up fees.

    1. skeptical i

      All you have to do is be perceived to suck slightly less than the competition, [Re: we'll see]

      no one wastes time and effort trying to win gold stars anymore.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    seen worse

    Try Globe telecom in the Philippines. They recently charged an extra ~2000PHP to all contract customers who were signed up to an internet package. They said it was a billing system upgrade error and affected all customers. Those billed automatically by bank have to wait 2 months for a system update at which point they'll get a credit, not even a refund. Nice way to earn some major cash.

  14. Terry 6 Silver badge

    It stinks

    Selling, of any commodity, in the capitalist system, is meant to work on the basis of exchange, cash for product. You make an agreement between you to exchange the goods for an amount of money, determined by the market.

    But these mega-corps have sneaked a different system in. In this system you have to pay them for the costs of dealing with them. Effectively we are paying to do business with them, as well as paying for the product. As if the cost of doing their business is nothing to do with them; it's our fault they have to pay for administration, because we are making them do it.

    Are the public really that stupid?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: It stinks

      > In this system you have to pay them for the costs of dealing with them.

      I humbly suggest that any company that didn't include their costs in their bill would very quickly go out of business.

  15. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    Fido Canada

    Adveritise a $30/month plan

    Then 99c 911 fee (probably fair enough)

    Then $7.95/month for caller id - well it's expensive to write to each caller asking them their phone number

    Then $7.95/month for voice mail - plus the minute used to retrieve it

    Then a $7.95/month "system access fee" - for access to the system presumably

    But at least it's better than the rival's $50/month plan

    1. Rukario

      Re: Fido Canada

      Meanwhile on Fido PAYG...

      911 fee... 75c

      Caller ID... free

      Voicemail... free (other than the minutes)

      System access fee... there isn't one.

  16. Slx

    Sounds exactly like what banks do. A few cent for this and that adds up fast when you've millions of customers!

  17. Linux Rules

    Cingular (aka AT&T) - "Raising the bill"

    Cingular (aka AT&T) had the "raising the bar" campaign - now it's the "raising the bill" campaign.

  18. Losmeme

    Not a surprise

    But then again things like this are why I swore off AT&T decades ago. If they became the last phone company on the planet, I would buy a few cans and some string. No one is forcing you to use their services

  19. and-job

    I remember when

    I remember when those not so nice people at Verizon Wireless added $1.20 administrative fee. Then there was uproar....

    ...they revoked it but...

    ...a few months later they slipped it in anyway when the dust had settled and nobody noticed that they had done it. They learned a lesson that day to just do something and let people not realize it was happening rather than announce it to the customer and have everyone shouting and screaming about it.

    Maybe AT&T should have followed their lead and just added it in instead of telling the world of their money grubbing ways. LOL

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All companies should by law only be allowed to charge one fee for a single named service, with administration fees or any fee that is ancillary to the product you thought you were purchasing (since i'm not really in the market for administration) are added at risk of death by lethal injection to the manager who implements it.

    It should not matter how much you slice it, compound it, whatever you call it, there should be only one fee + tax. That would result in the only honest pricing i can think of: it answers the single question "well how much does it fucking cost me then, eh?"

  21. FuzzyTheBear

    Self regulate

    Shows how much the republican tenet that the industry can self regulate and needs no oversight is totally bonkers.The companies use that lack of oversight to do as they please. And they do . They rip off their customers left and right and since noone's there to oversee this mess , they are free to do anything they like. What is needed is strong oversight , not less.

  22. Grammapodiola

    So how much money is enough?

    Don't they have enough already?

    Greedy, unregulated corporations .. and some greedy, unregulated people .. will never freakin' get it ..

    ... you will *never* see a U-Haul behind a hearse ...



  23. Tom 13

    I say Good for AT&T

    Frelling politicians always claiming they can get you something for free. If every company in the world explicitly called out the costs for these "freebies" in the bill they hand to consumers we might see some reduction in the stupidity.

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