|Parody of AT&T's "Deathstar" emblem|
AT&T claims it’s necessary to help “defray certain expenses AT&T incurs, including but not limited to: (a) charges AT&T or its agents pay to interconnect with other carriers to deliver calls from AT&T customers to their customers; and (b) charges associated with cell site rents and maintenance.”
An AT&T spokesperson defends the new charge by telling CNET it’s ”consistent with similar fees charged by other carriers.” To that end, Sprint and Verizon charge $1.50 and 90-cent administrative fees, respectively.
Some readers are wondering, and appropriately so, whether this surcharge will allow them to get out of their AT&T contracts without an ETF. It doesn’t seem so, as Consumerist reader Eli writes that the common response to that question has been that because it’s a fee and not a rate change, it doesn’t count.
He says he was told by the Death Star itself: “The rate for the service is the same, i.e., if it was $69 a month before, it’s still $69 now. There’s just a new fee, which isn’t the same thing as a higher rate.”