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Phone Bill Independence Report

"Phone Bills DO Lie"

A MUST READ Why is this report so important now? Other Related Stories.

. This report comes at a critical time. We are calling for an Investigation of Every Tax and Surcharge on the phone bill because many are unmarked revenues to the companies and NO regulator has added everything up to date.
  • State Battles to Raise Rates? Many states are fighting phone-rate increases. This report says --- No regulator has bothered to add up the current taxes and surcharges and other fees that are revenues and profits.--- No rate increases are necessary!.
  • Taxes on VOIP? ---Discussions abound pertaining to the proposed taxation of new services such as VOIP. This Report says --- Customers are already paying too much. No New Taxes on New Services.
  • Raise FCC Line Charge? The FCC is preparing to propose raising the FCC Line Charge to $9.00. This report says --- Where's the cost support? Every Customer should be outraged!
  • TELRIC Increases?--- There are a myriad of issues surrounding the costs to competitors to use the networks. This report says --- The Bells are "cross-subsidizing" many expenses that raise competitor rates.
  • Truth-in-Billing? NASUCA, the consumer advocate association has also shown there to be problems with long distance and wireless charges as well. This report found 59 other Truth-in-Billing violations in just two Verizon states.
  • Truth in Billing? Commissioner Copps has proposed the "Always On" campaign to address Truth-in-Billing and other issues. --- As members of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee, Teletruth is calling for a complete investigation of the phone bill and backing Commissioner Copp's Always On Campaign for customers.
  • Phone Customers Being Harmed? This report says you're being harmed in numerous ways and you should get the facts.
  • Lawyers, Regulators, Accountants? We've unearthed years worth of new cases and new ways of looking at the data.

Based on a two-year survey of Verizon local phone bills, this report clearly indicates that before ANY new increases or taxes are applied to any new service, regulators should be investigating what customers are already paying.


Over 90 Problems Identified.


Highlights from the Report

  • 59 "Truth-in-Billing" (TIB) violations including missing information, charges that do not add up correctly, mislabeling, etc. (TIB is a set of guidelines created by the FCC to ensure that phone bills are readable.) Example? The word "surcharge(s)" on the NY bill lacks any description of how the charges are applied.
  • Taxes and surcharges on the NYC bill are 112% higher than the 'dial tone' charge.
  • Many of the taxes and surcharges are unmarked revenue to the phone companies, such as the FCC Line Charge, which does not go to the FCC, (the common belief) but goes back to the local phone company.
  • The FCC Line Charge went from $3.50 to $6.50 with no cost support. In fact, based on cost studies, the FCC Line Charge should be investigated and reduced 85%.
  • Quintuple taxes applied -- The FCC Line Charge has Federal, state and local, Universal Service Fund charges, and 'surcharges' applied, adding 27% in NY, 18% in NJ and most of the US is about the same.
  • The Spanish American War Tax (Federal Excise Tax) was applied to phone bills in 1898 to fund the war and was never finally removed.
  • Because of deregulation, NO regulator examines the entire phone bill for revenues or profits. Multiple jurisdictions have been allowed to add charges.
  • The Universal Service Fund (USF) is a multiple-fund creation that is "out of control", with various claims of fraud, lack of oversight, and lack of competitive bidding.
  • The Universal Service "High-Cost" funds are being given to Very Profitable rural and urban telcos regulated by "Price Caps", that no longer examines profits.
  • Packages --- an estimated 15-25% of the population are on the wrong package which cost them more money. Most households do NOT benefit from a package.
  • The taxes and surcharges on Verizon packages adds 36% to the total advertised price. (the price doesn't include the FCC Line Charge, for example)
  • Calling Features -- The cost of Call Waiting is less than a penny yet the companies charge retail of $4.00--$5.30 a month
  • "Idiot Items" appear on the new "easier-to-read" phonebills, which are services that cost $0.00. An example is the touchtone line item on NY bills. Touchtone was removed in the mid-1990's.
  • Cross-subsidization? The 'Consumer Education" Inserts have turned into what appears to be free advertising for Verizon's other products, from DSL to wireless.
  • Competitive ISPs are paying "broadband taxes" that Verizon does not charge its own clients.
  • Misleading statements to the press and public. Verizon NY and NJ claims that they hadn't raised rates, but they never include various items in this analysis, such as the FCC Line Charge. They redefined the word "Basic Service".
Buy it Today

"The Most Controversial Report On Phone Charges Ever Written!"

Phone Bill Independence is being being offered as an 'e-book', Price $50.00, 131 pages, 60 Exhibits, 8/12by11 format, PDF format The proceeds fund Teletruth.

Orders are being handled through Pay Pal, including major credit cards. All proceeds help fund Teletruth.



What's in the Report

Over 90 Issues have been identified that need addressing.

New York --April 21st, 2004- Teletruth, a national, independent customer alliance and a member of the FCC Consumer Advisory Committee, today announced the results of a two-year investigation based on a survey of Verizon New York and New Jersey phone bills. Titled "Phone Bill Independence", this new report outlines the dismal state of phone bills in America and the Verizon territory. The report is being accompanied by the release of "The Dirty, Little Secret Lives of Phone Bills"; a fact-based novel/expose based on the reports' finding.

"Verizon's phone bills get an failing grade," says Tom Allibone, Director of Phone Bill Audits at Teletruth, and President of LTC Consulting. "They are still a convoluted, unreadable collection of misnamed charges and taxes, hidden phone company revenues, mistakes in tax calculations, missing discounts, and quintuple taxation --- without any proper oversight. Can you read the phone bill and answer basic questions?"

Accompanying the release of this Report is "The Dirty Little Secret Lives Of Phone Bills" based on real phone bills, and the scandals highlighted have been documented.

Class Action Suit Settlement

Mistakes are very common. Our survey found multiple mistakes on customer phonebills. Teletruth has helped to initiate two class action suits based on the survey results. On Wednesday, March 30th, 2004, the first case against Verizon was settled. Our survey found that 40% of the small businesses under 5 lines in New Jersey were missing their discounts. Our second case found that at least 10% of small businesses were paying for non-existent 'special circuits', such as an alarm circuit. To read about the cases and the settlement see:


Teletruth's solution: Congress and the FCC should do an "End-Result Test"


No regulator has ever examined all of the charges on the phone bill collectively, and as Teletruth demonstrates, all of the various charges, including taxes and surcharges, are not only revenue to the phone company, but the total is "unfair and unreasonable". Teletruth will also be filing a series of Complaints in both New York and New Jersey, as well as the FCC over the excessive Truth-in-Billing violations, which makes the phonebills even more unreadable.

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