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  Introduction to Dirty, Little, Secret Lives of Phone Bills
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A Letter from Bruce Kushnick, Chairman, Teletruth, Author.

The Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction.

You can't read your phone bill, can you? This is nothing to be ashamed about since virtually no one can read or understand all those dirty little secret charges. Were they put on your bill to nickel and dime you to death as you may suspect?

This is a fictional story of Valerie Simpson, a consumer reporter who is about to investigate why all those little charges exist, how they got on the local phone bill and the deep dark secrets the phone company and even the regulators and politicians don't want you to know about.

Our position: Every tax and surcharge on the phone bill should be reduced or removed immediately and no new charges should be added to any new service until there is a full investigation of the total amount customers pay each month.

By the end of this book you will understand:

  • How to read your local phone bill and all of the charges.
  • What to look for when you purchase a "package".
  • How to determine if you've been slammed, crammed or double-billed.
  • Why every tax and surcharge is suspect and should be investigated.
  • How to file a complaint when you get annoyed.
  • The role of the regulators in this mess.
  • The "Dirty, Little Secrets" including the skunk-work consumer groups that are paid to harm you, the failed audits and the broadband scams that cost you hundreds of dollars and harmed America's "Digital Future".

This book is also based on actual data, articles, company financial statements and is directly related to the Teletruth "Phone Bill Independence Report", the non-fiction version of this book. That report is based on a survey conducted over the last two years of Verizon phone bills for New York and New Jersey. Most of the phone bills in America have the same issues. While this is a novel, we have footnoted many passages that were taken directly from the actual sources in order to avoid legal repercussions.

We write this with the hope of not only making this information accessible to the average phone customer who pays a phone bill, but also to get every customer to understand what has happened to the local phone bill. We believe that the charges are a national disgrace that needs to be exposed and confronted. Note: this book is about local phone bills. Other books in the "Dirty, Little Secret Lives of" series cover wireless, long distance, and broadband.

We also need to point out that this book (and its companion report) comes at a time when new services, such as Voice-Over-the-Internet (VOIP), which allows a caller to bypass the local phone companies networks and only use the Internet for a phone call, and even the Internet itself are under siege with cries of adding new taxes and surcharges. Meanwhile, almost every state phone monopoly is proposing increases to local phone service charges or increases to the costs to competitors to access a customer's phoneline.

Since no regulator has ever examined the total phone charges on your phone bill - not the FCC, Congress or even the state commissions, and since you, the customer will be paying for any new increases, corporate greed has already cost you hundreds of dollars. Enough is enough. Read the book and let's fix the current problems and block any new charges added to your bill by the whims of the phone companies, supported by their various politicians and regulators.

Also, though we have made every effort to keep the data in our analysis current, we recognize that even as you read this report, phone bills will have changed. For example, there have been increases in the FCC Line Charge, the fluctuating Universal Service Fund price as well as and price increases on numerous items, which also impacts the taxes and surcharges on those items. However, this does not affect our primary concerns or the accuracy of the story being told.

Teletruth was set up specifically to fix the problems with phone bills and telephone charges and we appreciate you buying this book. I wish to thank the various persons who helped to develop this project: Tom, Marcus, Larry, the Simpson family, Valerie, Jane, Eric, Joe, Dan, Jean, Bob, Jim, Kate, Jane, Kaarli, Chris, Sue, Arnold, & the gang at Teletruth. Cover design by Vicki Blake.

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