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Old 07-16-2003, 11:50 AM   #1 (permalink)
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The sham of the surcharge... yet another tax on us.

Last night my wife is looking at bills. We both have a cellphones and both have the same plan for 34.99 for blah blah minutes, free nights and weekends. She says to me that neither of us went over our minutes, but she's paying more on her bill. She looks at it and discovers she's paying more tax than I am. How can that be??? We should be paying the same amount of tax.

Here's the break down of the taxes.

my bill:
FEDERAL TAX 1.14
STATE TAX 1.66
LOCAL TAX 1.57
911 SURCHARGE 1.20
LOCAL WIRELESS SURCHARGE .30
UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY CHARGE .73
GROSS RECEIPTS SURCHARGE 1.23
TOTAL TAXES, SURCHARGES & REGULATORY FEES 7.83


wife's bill:
FEDERAL TAX 1.17
STATE TAX 1.60
LOCAL TAX 1.65
911 SURCHARGE 1.20
NY CITY UTILITY G.R. SUR .72
LOCAL WIRELESS SURCHARGE .30
UNIVERSAL CONNECTIVITY CHARGE .73
GROSS RECEIPTS SURCHARGE 1.23
TOTAL TAXES, SURCHARGES & REGULATORY FEES 8.60

WTF is this Local Wireless Surcharge? WTF is this Gross Reciepts Surcharge? and WTF is this Local NYC G.R. Surchage?

I call up customer service and ask why the difference in taxes for the SAME SERVICE and SAME PLAN. We should be paying the SAME AMOUNT!!!!

Roxanne the customer service agent cannot answer my questions and keeps me putting me on hold while she's researching this "Surcharge" stuff. I'm googling my butt off and she comes back EMPTY. She's no idea as to why it's on the bill but we are required to pay it. I inform her of what I found, and why I'm pissed off.

First let's define what a surcharge is... Surcharge is an additional charge to be applied to the customer's bill for telecommunication services. This charge is not a tax but an additional charge that has been approved by the appropriate regulatory body.

Let's now breakdown the surchages and extras:

911: This charge is generally imposed on the consumer using wireless telecommunications, either as a tax or as a surcharge to fund a 911 emergency system.

Gross Receipts Surcharge: A tax on the privilege of doing wireless business in the state measured by the gross receipts received from business done in the state. This tax is typically imposed on the wireless telecommunications provider; however, some states allow the provider to pass on the tax to the consumer.

Statutory Gross Receipts Surcharge: A tax on the privilege of doing business in the state measured by gross receipts received from business done in the state. This tax is typically imposed on the telecommunication provider; however, some states allow the provider to pass on the tax to the consumer.

Universal Service Fund Surcharge: A surcharge imposed on wireless telecommunication providers that may be passed on to customers for the purpose of providing the availability of basic telecommunication services for all at an affordable price.

The Local Wireless Surcharge I was not able to get a suitable answer.

So far I've been on the phone for at least 2 hours trying to hunt down why she's got an extra US$.30 charge for the NY Utility GR Surcharge and I don't. The customer service people all stated the same thing to me, take it up with your local government we don't know why you are getting charged differently, but you are and that's all that I can talk to you about this according to my local policies and procedures. Why in god's name are they allowed to PROFIT from me and then PASS TAXES that they should pay right back to me??????

If there is a mistake like this small one, times ONE MILLION customers, it's an extra US$300,000.

Here is a journalist's take on the whole situation

Quote:
MP Digest Nov 2002

Talk about “taxation without representation”...have you ever REALLY looked at all the various taxes tacked on to your monthly cell phone bill? It’s mindboggling. For instance, consider the Federal excise tax, which hits you up for 3% of interstate cell charges. Here’s the rub: this tax was imposed in 1898 to help fund the Spanish American War. “How can that be?” one might ask, logically, as there certainly were no cell phones back then. The tax, levied on interstate telephone calls, was never repealed and was later grandfathered onto cell phone bills. I find that quite amazing. Actually, I don’t know why I’m surprised. This sort of nonsense happens across the board, thanks to outrageous tax laws like this one that fall through the cracks when some intelligent person tries to have them repealed. It’s even worse in New York City, where you have the State gross receipts surcharge of 3.9%, which was originally a tax on regulated monopolies passed on to consumers. According to the New York Daily News (Oct. 6), this tax was originally imposed on the New York Telephone Co., “a precursor of Verizon, when telephone service was a regulated monopoly. ‘It was a tax on total profits that was passed along to consumers,’ said Mark Carey, spokesman for the state Finance Department. Soon a city gross receipts surcharge was added, also on telephone company profits.” And here’s a really good one: “Most mysterious is the NY Local McTD tax on wireless bills, sometimes spelled out, depending on the carrier, but often folded into local taxes...Turns out that NY Local McTD sales tax goes to funding transportation needs in 12 counties in the metropolitan area, Niagara Falls and Albany, according to the state controller’s office. The acronym stands for Metropolitan Commuter Transportation District.” I thought it was bad enough when surcharges on my landline phone went to benefit our local commuter railroads, but this borders on ridiculous!
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:04 PM   #2 (permalink)
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That's exactly why I dumped my cellphone into Boston Harbor.

I'll tell you another extra tax, too; shipping and handling charges. I ordered something last week and paid $5.95 for Shipping and Handling. Yet, I noticed the UPS sticker showed that it only cost $4.25 to actually ship the item to me.
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:12 PM   #3 (permalink)
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payments for services rendered is one thing, but that's a load of horseshit. makes me even more leary of getting a cellphone. sorry to see that kind of shady shit still going on.
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:19 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by Cynthetiq Roxanne the customer service agent cannot answer my questions and keeps me putting me on hold while she's researching this "Surcharge" stuff. I'm googling my butt off and she comes back EMPTY.


I know why she put you in hold. She was probably trying to ask someone who has been working there for 3 months or so because she has only been working there for a week and dosn't have a clue what you are asking. She is probably also in Ohio or some snit. I work in a call center btw.
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:38 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I'll have to post my SBC Ameritech bill for my land line. I have the cheapest service available, which charges 1.98 for basic service, and I pay for any time I use. Pretty simple right?

By the time all the taxes and charges are added up, my phone bill is over $25.00. All for the privilege of paying per minute for it's use! Just to explain, we keep it as a central point of contact and so that there's a phone number attached to the address, and don't use it otherwise. We use cell phones for everything else.
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Wisconsin, USA
Quote:
Originally posted by warrrreagl
I'll tell you another extra tax, too; shipping and handling charges. I ordered something last week and paid $5.95 for Shipping and Handling. Yet, I noticed the UPS sticker showed that it only cost $4.25 to actually ship the item to me.
There's a few mail-order computer companies that do even worse. They have the lowest prices around for their stuff. Shows up on Pricewatch on a regular basis at unbelievable low prices.

That's because they charge $65.00 and up for S&H on anything.
That's right, anything.

Amazing they're still in business, and there IS more than one.
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Old 07-16-2003, 12:58 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: The sham of the surcharge... yet another tax on us.

Quote:
Originally posted by Cynthetiq
[B]So far I've been on the phone for at least 2 hours trying to hunt down why she's got an extra US$.30 charge for the NY Utility GR Surcharge and I don't. The customer service people all stated the same thing to me, take it up with your local government we don't know why you are getting charged differently, but you are and that's all that I can talk to you about this according to my local policies and procedures.
Did anyone else catch the fact that the customer service people couldn't answer the question of why are my bills different instead of why am I paying this surcharge?
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Old 07-16-2003, 01:41 PM   #8 (permalink)
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well after talking myself forward I finally got to a supervisor who did some searching and figured out that my wife was being charged taxes as if she was in NY County and I was being charged as if I was in Nassau county. They made the adjustment and then rebated me US$.30 for 24 months of service totally to US$7.20. I worked hard to get that... add that to my US$5, for her account and for mine. I'm up US$17.20!!!

I do advise you all to call them on this and also call your local representative. There is no reason we should be subsidizing these corporate taxes on their profits.
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Old 07-16-2003, 01:50 PM   #9 (permalink)
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here's a site that I just found to help locate better phone deals and plans away from the big 3.

www.telcobusters.com

(Some carriers may use different terms)
Federal Tax (Federal Excise Tax)
Appears on both your local and long distance phone bills. Charged as a percentage of your total bill regardless of your telephone carrier. It is 3% of long distance calls and 2.7% of local calls.

Federal Subscriber Line Charge (Subscriber Line Charge, SLC)
Similar to the PICC. Regulated and capped by the FCC. It is not a charge by the government, it is not a tax. The number of calls you place or receive does not affect it. The money is paid to local telephone companies and will be charged to your local phone bill. The SLC fee pays local phone companies some of the costs of telephone lines connected to your home or business.
The current charge for primary residence lines and single-line business customers is $4.35 and will increase to $5.00 on July 1, 2001. The second and additional lines for residential service are considered non-primary lines and are subject to a higher line charge cap, even if the bill is in a second name at the same address.
The Subscriber Line Charge for non-primary lines is capped at $7.00 per month thru June 30, 2005.
For multi-line businesses the maximum charge is the telephone company's average cost of providing a line in that state, or $9.20 per line per month, whichever is lower.

Monthly Fee (Monthly Service Fee, Access Fee)
Some companies charge a fixed monthly fee paid to your carrier regardless of your usage. Pay this in addition to the cost of your calls.

Municipal Charge
Charged by your local municipality to offset the costs of community services such as 911.

Number Portability Service Charge (Local Number Portability, LNP)
FCC approved fee that pays local telephone companies for the expenses of allowing a consumer or business to retain their existing telephone number when switching long distance carriers. This is not a tax and the fee goes to the local telephone company.

PIC Switching Fee
Charged by the local provider when you change long distance carriers. The fee is normally $5-10 and charged on your local phone bill. After your service is switched, some carriers will reimburse the switching fee. To credit the fee, the carrier will probably request a copy of the phone bill with the switching fee.

PICC (Presubscribed Interexchange Carrier Charge, National Access Fee or Carrier Line Charge)
Long distance companies pay local phone companies a flat fee for access to their local phone network. The FCC regulates the price, but this is not a tax and the commission does not require long distance companies to pass these charges to consumers. Each long distance company pays the same flat rate per line and it is up to the company how to distribute this charge. Pay attention the PICC because each company charges differently. Some companies do not charge for the PICC. The PICC charge appears on your long distance bill.

USF (Universal Service Fund, Universal Service Charge)
A national policy to promote telephone service to all households. Telephone service is a vital link to emergency services, government agencies and surrounding communities and the USF is a subsidy to make phone service available for all Americans. This includes consumers with low incomes, schools and libraries and rural health care providers. All carriers are charged the same USF%. However, pay attention to this fee because companies have flexibility in passing this fee to customers. The charge ranges from no charge at all, a flat fee, % of interstate and international usage or % of entire bill. The company keeps the difference between the fees they receive and the charge they pay.

Taxes
You can't escape taxes by changing carriers. Taxes vary by location but they are the same for all providers. Taxes apply to both local and long distance companies operating within a state. Tax dollars go to the local governing body. To obtain information about state and local taxes listed on your phone bill, contact your local and state tax offices. These offices should be listed in the government section of your phone book.
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Old 07-16-2003, 02:03 PM   #10 (permalink)
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very useful info. glad you found a resolution to your liking, and thanks for the heads-up cynthetiq
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Old 07-16-2003, 02:20 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally posted by warrrreagl
That's exactly why I dumped my cellphone into Boston Harbor.

I'll tell you another extra tax, too; shipping and handling charges. I ordered something last week and paid $5.95 for Shipping and Handling. Yet, I noticed the UPS sticker showed that it only cost $4.25 to actually ship the item to me.
The difference is for the "Handling" IE: box it came in and time to insert it. A 1.70 is pretty cheap too. I pay at least a 1.00 for most of the little boxes I buy.
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Old 07-16-2003, 04:22 PM   #12 (permalink)
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"A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well."

theres a tax for everything just because tehres silly laws for everything.
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Old 07-16-2003, 04:23 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I'm trying to figure out how i pay 34.99 for the plan, $10.00 for internet, text messaging, etc. and manage to get billed for 44.17.
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