Profits before people: new 61 cent fee could earn AT&T $500M a year

AT&T adds administrative fee

Beginning May 1, AT&T sneakily added a new "administrative fee" to the bills of all its 70 million customers.

The fee costs each customer just $.61 a month, totaling at $7.32 per year.

But AT&T stands to earn more than $500 million a year from the fee, The Verge reported yesterday.

Customers may be up in arms, but AT&T issued a statement claiming there's nothing untoward about the new fee.

Repeating history

The money from the adminstrative fee will "help cover certain expenses, such as interconnection and cell site rents [sic] and maintenance" and is "consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers," AT&T said.

As The Verge points out, AT&T competitors Verizon and Sprint also include administrative fees on customers' bills, but this kind of incremental charge increase tends to really piss customers off regardless of any justifications.

Just think back on December 2011, when Verizon decided to tack on a $2 "convenience charge" to all users' bills.

That didn't go over very well with customers, and Verizon quickly scrapped the fee.

Will AT&T do the same? From the statement issued already it seems the carrier may stick to its guns, but if the backlash from customers gets bad enough, anything might happen.

We've asked AT&T to provide additional comments, and we'll update this post if we receive any.

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