If you're an AT&T customer and you've ever read your wireless service bill in detail, you may have noticed something called an "Administrative Fee" featured as one of the line items. Up until early this year, that "fee" was typically assessed at $0.76 per postpaid line - not nothing, but over the course of two years of service, it ends up being a little over $18.
AT&T has now very slyly almost tripled the cost in the last six months. Most recently, subscribers getting their statements for June are finding an Admistrative Fee charge of $1.99 per line every month. That brings the two-year cost of this "administrative fee" to almost $50 for each line on your account.
The fee was raised earlier this year incrementally in March (by $0.54), but this new hike comes just three months after the first one, and it's not even clear why. AT&T is likely hoping subscribers just won't notice their per-line bill is going up $1.23 a month versus where it was a few months ago, and in the process, could net almost a billion dollars in additional revenue according to one analyst. This could allow AT&T to finance up to $10 billion in new debt to expand its ever-broadening media empire.
And unlike your typical monthly service fee, this isn't something you can really fight or avoid - AT&T is assessing the fee against all postpaid subscribers, regardless of their service plan or any grandfathering. Everybody pays. What is it in the first place? AT&T explains it as being related to its cost of doing business, in terms of interconnect fees with other operators and cell site rents. In other words: It's something that should be factored into the cost of your wireless service - assessing it as a discrete fee is just a way to raise your bill in a way you're unlikely to notice.
AT&T is probably hoping nobody really sees this, and given the "small" increase in real terms, it probably wouldn't have been paid much attention were it not for the revenue implications being noted above. It's scummy, it's slimy, and subscribers should be raising hell about it.