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Thread: Help with new E911 Fee

  1. #1
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    Help with new E911 Fee

    On my most recent Alltel bill I was notified of a new "E911 Carrier Cost Recovery" fee. This is in addition to my State/Local 911 fee that I already pay. The notice about the new fee on the bill says this:

    "Attention Alabama Residents
    Alltel Wireless is required to provide E9-1-1 service at the request of the local 9-1-1 Public Service Answering Points as described in Federal Communications Commission Order 94-102. To help offset the cost of providing this service and effective with this billing statement, Alltel will collect a monthly surcharge of $0.22 for every wireless subscriber whose place of primary use is in the counties listed below:

    AUTAUGA, BALDWIN, BARBOUR, BIBB, BULLOCK, BUTLER, CALHOUN, CHAMBERS, HILTON, CLARK, COFFEE, CONECUH, COOSA, COVINGTON, CRENSHAW, DALE, DALLAS, ELMORE, ESCAMBIA, GENEVA, HENRY, HOUSTON, LEE, LOWNDES, MACON, MOBILE, MONROE, MONTGOMERY, PIKE, RUSSELL, TALLAPOOSA WASHINGTON, WILCOX

    This service is regarded as a valuable asset for the safety of our community. Thank you for your cooperation. For additional information regarding E9-1-1, please visit alltel.com/corporate/e911.html. "

    Then on the explanation of Taxes, Surcharges, and Fees it describes the new fee like this:

    "E911 Carrier Cost Recovery: This fee is charged by Alltel to recover its costs associated with the construction, maintenance and upgrades of 911 services and related facilities on its network not otherwise reimbursed through state or local E-911 funds. This is not a tax required by law."

    I love Alltel but DO NOT want to become an AT&T customer. I am in an area that will become AT&T when the acquisition is completed. I have four lines on my account. Two lines are no longer under contract and are not an issue. Two lines are under contract.

    I called Alltel about the new fees and requested to have my lines disconnected without paying ETF's on the two lines still under contract. I was given a HUGE runaround about the fees being imposed by the FCC. I told them that I found it hard to believe that the FCC would impose fees on only on certain counties in the State of Alabama. Then they said that the local 911 board must have imposed the fees. I told them that the law in Alabama states what the 911 fees are set at and may only be changed by the legislature and that I knew for certain that the fees have not been changed by the legislature. They then basically told me that they weren't going to allow me to cancel my two lines without paying the ETFs.

    This is the very short version of the story as I have spend about an hour and a half on the phone with Alltel and although nobody there can tell me what government authority mandated the fee, Alltel insists that it is a fee mandated by some government body and will not let me cancel without the ETFs. I feel certain that they are wrong but can't seem to get anybody at Alltel listen.

    Any advice? (Sorry for the long post).

  2. #2
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    Each wireless customer is subject to federal, state and local taxes that vary by usage and location. In addition, Alltel charges each wireless customer and retains all or a portion of:

    A Regulatory and Admin Fee, which helps Alltel recover costs incurred by the company to provide government-mandated services and complete calls to and from other carriers' networks. This fee is set by Alltel and is not a tax required by law.
    A Federal Universal Service Fund (USF) fee, which varies based upon a customer's wireless usage, used to offset Alltel contributions to the FCC's USF.
    In certain states, a State Universal Service Fund (USF) fee is charged, the amount of which varies by customer usage.
    911 fees of up to $3.30
    These additional fees may not be taxes or government-required charges and are subject to change.

    From the Alltel Terms & Conditions-

    We may change these Terms and Conditions, including any change in any charge or fee, or the imposition of a new charge or fee, at any time if we give you notice in advance of the change. If we make a change to these Terms and Conditions that is material and you do not wish to accept such material change, you may terminate your Agreement for the affected Service by giving us notice within thirty (30) days, in which case you will not be subject to an early cancellation fee. You will, however, still be responsible for all charges for Services and Equipment made before you terminated your Agreement for that Service. A material change is ONLY a change that (a) terminates or substantially reduces the availability of a Service for you or (b) results in the increase of any charge by more than ten percent (10%) of the monthly access charge for that Service. Material changes in your Service DO NOT include the increase in, or imposition of: (1) any charge required to be collected by any governmental authority, or (2) any charge permitted to be collected by any governmental authority to recoup our expense for the provision of a service required by that governmental authority

  3. #3
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    Thanks for the reply cclay. Perhaps I misunderstood something then. When I look to the Federal side of things regarding E911 everything I see says that the Federal Government is going to leave recoupment of expenses for phone carriers up to the States to determine the maximum amounts and pass legislation to do so. I looked to the law in the State of Alabama and the maximum amount allowed to be charged by a wireless carrier for the recoupment of E911 expenses is $0.70 per month. This is the amount of the State/Local E911 tax already charged on my wireless bill on each line. The statute in Alabama also says that the only body that is authorized to change this amount is the State legislature and they have not done so.

    The way I interpret the new charge (and please let me know if I am interpreting something incorrectly) is that Alltel is already charging the maximum amount they are authorized to under the law of Alabama and now they are, on their own, charging a little bit more and calling it something related to E911 and attempting to try to make it appear as a government fee. By charging more than is allowed by the government I believe they are outside of the "any charge permitted to be collected by any governmental authority to recoup our expense for the provision of a service required by that governmental authority" term in the contract. My only reasoning for this is the fact that the State allows a maximum collection of $0.70 for E911 costs and they are charging an amount in excess of the legal limit in Alabama.

    Does this make sense?

  4. #4
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    Yes it makes sense, however if you dig deep into the FCC documents regarding the phases of E911 deployment there is much more information. Originally a cost recovery mechanism (state or local government) that included carrier cost recovery in addition to PSAP/government cost had to be in place before a carrier was required to begin e911 deployment. The commission removed that rule because it was slowing down deployment. Many states refused to pass legislation that included a mechanism for carrier cost recovery so carriers simply didnt have to begin e911 deployment. The commission stated that since wireless carrier rates arent regulated they were free to implement their own cost recovery mechanisms. They also stated that their ruling does not prohibit state and local agencies from creating a cost recovery mechanism that included just the govenment portion of E911 or both the government and carrier portion. As a result most carriers have their own cost recovery mechanism, ie the line item you are now seeing on your bill.

    I cant speak for Alabama without digging deeper but if they are like many other states then the line item previously on your bill goes entirely to the state for their own costs for e911 and nothing is returned to the carrier. (except for a miniscule portion related to the cost of collecting the tax/fee)

    Personally I have three line items related to e911 service for each of my numbers because both the state and county enacted their own e911 cost recovery mechanism but neither include Alltels cost. As a result Alltel implemented their own line item.

    State 911 Fee $.61
    Local 911 Fee $.08
    E911 Carrier Cost Recovery $.15

    On a side note, Alltel has a VERY good legal team. If the line item was prohibited by state law then they would not be charging it.

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