So I Looked at the Bill...

When Verizon Fios came to our neck of the woods, we were one of the first to sign up for it.  Tired of our previous provider (ComCrap), we were anxious for Fios.  We were put on a waiting list!  So we waited and were installed several months later.  I believe that this was 10 years ago (give or take) and though we've had our problems with Verizon, I'm still happier with them than I am with the crap we'd been saddled with before.

The cost of this bundle has been pretty consistent over the years.  That's not to say it's cheap; it's not. Our little "bundle" (internet, tv and phone) is over $150.  While I'd love to pay less, I've paid more, so this post is not a complaint.  (Or much of one!)

Recently, our contract expired (which happens every two years) and my husband was able to renew it with "better" internet service for about the same price as we've been paying.  (Someone has to explain to me in baby terms what 50/50 is and why 75/75 is better. When do I get 100/100?)  Because it was a new contract, I wanted to make sure the price was what had been quoted (which it was) and ended up taking a "good look" at the bill.  (I usually just open it, make sure the amount is correct, see when it is due and pay it.) Which leads me to the following questions:

  • What is a Federal Universal Service Fee?  If it's Federal, how can it be Universal?  Should it be instead a Universal Federal Service Free?
  • What is a Video Franchise Fee?   Does it serve coffee like other franchises I know? (I'm thinking of you 7-11)  How do I get the coffee?
  • What is a CATV Universal Access Fund?  What am I funding?  Shouldn't this be an optional item and can I get a free tote bag if I donate?
  • What is a Regulatory Recovery Fee - Federal used for?  What has been lost?  Can I help recover it and not pay the fee?
  • Why am I paying for a regional sports network fee when I don't watch regional sports?  (At least I don't think I do...I don't watch sports at all, but then we've got that "package".)  What is a regional sport?  Is it different for each region?  What is my region and how did I get here?
  • Why is there a Fios TV Broadcast fee?  Shouldn't Fios be paying this?  What are they broadcasting that requires an additional fee?  Is this some sort of secret broadcast that only I can see because I'm paying the fee?
  • What is a FDV Administrative Charge? Should I have sent flowers on administrative professional’s day?

Ok, I know these are all silly questions.  (Although if someone could answer them in easy to understand language, I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say.)  In total, it's not that much money.  (The Regulatory Recovery Fee - Federal is less than ten cents a month!  Certainly that is a bargain!)  I'm sure if I called Verizon there would be someone who could explain it all to me.  (But I don't know if I'm willing to sit through some long winded explanation and I'm certainly NOT up for a couple of hours of bad on hold music!  Which brings up another there such a thing as GOOD on hold music?)  

If I'd been a good consumer, perhaps I'd have looked at this a long time ago.  But does anybody really look at these "tack ons?"  Does ANYONE really know what they are and why they are there?  (And if you do, have you won a prize for doing so?)

Look, I'm going to pay what I'm going to pay for my service.  Why not just call it a price and have at it.  Verizon, you charge me X and then pay all those fees yourself, ok? Don't be tacking all this crazy stuff on my bill that I can't decipher.  (And I don't want to!)

Of course now that I've done this with my Verizon bill, maybe I should look more closely at my cell phone plan...who knows what secret fees I might uncover?  What strange plots there might be!  (And why are they Verizon any way?  What was wrong with the "old" name and why have they dissed Alexander Graham Bell???)

Am I reading too much into this?  Are the owls not what they seem?  (Have I been watching/re-watching too much Twin Peaks?).  What do you think?


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