Deadman's picture

    MOLFT: Episode 2 (Cell phone taxes, fees and surcharges)

    I'll get back to the regularly scheduled My One Favorite Things soon enough, but right now I got a bone to pick with my cell phone company, T-Mobile.

    I mostly have positive vibes toward T-Mobile as their customer service has been very helpful and their network seems to have continually improved in New York City, but I'm annoyed with the numerous 'surcharges' the company tacks on to my monthly bill.

    T-Mobile probably isn't alone here, but I think it's a crime that these charges - which earn the dubious award of being My One Least Favorite Thing of the week - now add up to more than $10 a month, approximately 21% of the cost of my plan.

    What's worse, I just got a note in my most recent bill that T-Mobile was raising the rate of something they call a Regulatory Programs Fee to $1.21 a month. The company says the RPF is used to recover the costs 'associated with funding and complying with a variety of government mandates, programs, and obligations, such as enhanced 911 programs, number portability and governmental requirements concerning the construction and operation of our network."

    Meanwhile, the other fees and taxes on my monthly bill include:

    • Federal Universal Service Fund
    • State Gross Receipts Tax
    • State Sales Tax
    • State Telecom Excise
    • County Surcharge
    • County Telecom Excise
    • MCTD Surcharge
    • Local Sales Tax
    • State 911
    • County 911

    Are you kidding me? I mean, I understand that many if not all of these charges are due to taxes or other government-related charges, but why exactly has cell phone service - now basically a necessity for most Americans - been chosen as the revenue gravy train for state, local and federal governments.

    I just have a few questions - Is it the same everywhere around the country or is it worse for me because I live in New York City? Does every wireless carrier charge this much in monthly fees or is T-Mobile being overly exuberant here? Please let me know what your carriers add on to your monthly bills.

    And for anyone in the industry or familiar with its development, please tell me how and why this happened? Should I really blame the government as T-Mobile seems to want me to do??


    Here in Charlottesville, VA, we have none of that. In fact, much like how Alaska pays its residents to live there, our city pays us to use cell phones.

    Actually, in all seriousness, I'm not sure what extra fees we pay on our cell phones. Verizon gave us a figure as to what it would cost us, and that's what we're paying. I'm sure part of that includes those fees, but as long as the bill doesn't change from month to month, I don't even look at it. (I pay it electronically.)

    I only have 4 items on my AT&T bill:

    • 9-1-1 Service Fee
    • Local Wireless 911 Surcharge
    • NY State Sales Tax
    • City Sales Tax

    My fees are about 10% of my bill, but I also pay about $10 in fees, so my bill is a lot more than yours.

    The weird thing is that I'm still getting "NY State Sales Tax" even though I'm officially a PA resident now. Guess that I better ask about that.

    Latest Comments