Sat, Mar 31, 2001 EST
fundsnav.gif (2552 bytes)
account management
business home

AT&T; to Start Charging Fee for Including
Long-Distance Bill with Local Bill

By Matt Moore   Associated Press
  E-mail This Story

NEW YORK — Moving to trim costs, AT&T; Corp. will start charging customers an extra $1.50 a month if they want to continue receiving their long distance bill with their local phone bill.

AT&T;, the nation's largest provider of long-distance service, began sending out notices to its customers earlier this month of the change in policy, effective April 1.

Mark Siegel, an AT&T; spokesman, said Thursday that the company decided to charge the fee because the costs for printing it and adding to local providers' bills was becoming ungainly.

"There is certainly a cost issue in having billing done by a local company," Siegel said. "The joint bill made sense once, but given current competitive realities, it makes less and less sense."

Customers can avoid the charge by requesting their bill be delivered separately or paying online.

AT&T; isn't the first to tack on the fee.

Last year WorldCom's MCI long-distance division, the nation's second-largest long distance company, introduced a $1.50 fee in an effort to cut costs, too.

And Sprint Corp., the nation's third-largest long-distance company, introduced the same fee in January.

Monica Evans-Trout, a Sprint spokeswoman, said the cost of the company's long distance bills being printed as part of a local bill increased 30 percent from last year.

"These agreements are negotiated with the local telephone companies, but they've just increased dramatically," she said.

David Burks, an analyst with the brokerage J.J.B. Hilliard, W.L. Lyons in Louisville, Ky., said the additional fee imposed by all three companies could lead to better communication with their customers because most would opt for a separate bill or pay it online.

"Anything they can do to strengthen their relationship with their customers is obviously a long-term plus," said Burks. "It would give them a chance to, in effect, have direct communication with the customer and tout their services."

Ken Kurtz, an AT&T; customer in Lexington, Ky., said he will start getting his long-distance bill mailed to him separately.

That, he said, "will allow me to save $16 a year," by not getting the bill with his phone bill from local provider Verizon.

More Marketwire More MarketWire News Top of Page

© 2000, News Digital Media, Inc. d/b/a Fox News Online
All rights reserved. Fox News is a registered trademark of 20th Century Fox Film Corp.
Data from Thomson Financial Interactive is subject to the following Privacy Statement
© 2000 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.