AT&T To Start Charging You For Paying Them Money

An AT&T insider tells us that starting March 11th AT&T has begun charging customers in the Southeast an extra $5 if they call in to make their payment over the phone by speaking to a customer service rep. He says this is set to be rolled out nationally starting in May. Please only speak to our robots, otherwise you will be punished, thanks.

(Photo: afagen)

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  1. RIP MRHANDS says:

    This is a non-issue. You have several options to choose from to make a payment without incurring a fee that are easier than demanding a human. Nothing to see here.

  2. jadenton says:

    Payment over the phone won’t involve a human. You call up, navigate the phone tree, and key in your bank account number. Entirely automated and no paper. Actually much cheaper for AT&T than processing paper. The fed will then charge then 4 CENTS for every 10 transactions they process through the automated checking clearing house in this manner. They save big, except for the high fixed cost of setting this up. So really, they are charging you for infrastructure improvements they are making to reduce their overhead.

    Crap like this is why we need to regulate the bastards. Better yet, nationalize the telecom infrastructure. What’s the worst that can happen? Bad Service and high fees?

  3. sleepydumbdude says:

    My electric company charges 3 or 4 for over the phone and its all automated and 6 to do it over the net. Bull crap for 6 to do it over the net.

  4. Triskillion says:

    AT&T will also now charge you the $5 fee if you make a payment to an in store agent.

  5. axiomatic says:

    Hey AT&T can I charge you $5 for every time one of your CSR’s hangs up on me because they don’t know the answer to my question?

    Give me an F….. F! Give me a U….. U!

  6. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    But thats what they always charge more for. Infastructure to improve their service costs you more, while lowering their overall costs and boosting their profits since they can now charge you more and pay less for services.

    I paid once over the phone, took longer to do that than to boot up my computer and log into their website to pay.

  7. greensmurf says:

    Ever since SBC bought out and changed their name to AT&Crap I have been hating them.
    I hate calling in to make a payment so I have to talk to their lame assed computer that I have to say Yes to in clear english 20 times before it understands me.
    The it transfers me to a live person.
    I have complained numerous times but of course they dont give a crap as long as they keep getting my cash.

    I am really just waiting for a reason to leave, the only thing keeping me there is my personal email address and my business email address not to mention the work I would have to do changing all my info at all the numerous web sites and business sites I deal with.
    Big LOOOSSSEEERR… to AT&T and their stupid Computer voice. All I got to say is they can pry the 5 bucks from my dead corpse if I get transfered to a live rep because their computer cant understand Clear English.
    Eat me AT&T because I have lots of fresh beef for you.

  8. redpeppers20xx says:

    Sprint charges you $5 to make a payment at it’s Corporate stores..or at least they did when I had them 3 years ago.

    Spin how you want,it’s Bulls–t. Maybe walmart should charge you $3 to use it’s parking lot?

    A company should never charge you to take your bill payment regardless of method.

    And if you ever pay a cell or cable company in any way that does not produce an immediate paper receipt you are a fool. Too many ‘mishaps’ to ever give them my money w/o on the spot proof of payment.

  9. vildechaia says:

    Don’t they have an automatic billing method in place? I know they have one for mobile numbers. And, isn’t auto pay-through-your-bank available?

  10. greensmurf says:

    @vildechaia: Thats like playing on a busy freeway at night wearing all black, eventually you are going to get nailed and it isnt going to be pretty.
    I never sign up for auto bill pay for phone, cell phone companies. Its just asking for them to screw up. They you are screwed if they over draw and you have to wait for a refund for two weeks.
    Bad news there.

  11. GrantGannon says:

    100% true. I was on the phone with a CSR yesterday and she said she could take my payment over the phone but with a $5 service fee or she could transfer me to the automated line. I suspect it’s so they can’t get humans off the phone and onto other humans. I transferred and just punched in some numbers, it was pretty easy.

  12. qgriffith says:

    Countrywide charges you $15.00 to make a payment via phon e on their automated system.

  13. distractedbyshinyobjects says:

    My Gap credit card account charges me $10 to make a payment over the phone (they use a check that you void for them).

    Only had to use it once when I was out of town when the bill came and by the time I got it, the check would have been late, and I would have gotten a $25 late fee. The way I see it, I saved $15.

  14. valthun says:

    I really don’t see an issue with charging to speak to a person to pay the bill. If there are three other ways to pay the bill for free (internet, automated phone, snail mail). Why should a live person take the call? By charging this fee, people will forgo speaking to a rep to pay the bill, which will open up that rep for other issues which will in turn lower the wait times. Its being put in place to discourage calling in and talking to someone on the phone to pay your bill.

  15. wwwhitney says:

    As long as they clearly announce this to their customers, I don’t think it’s a big deal. My water and electricity providers charge a similar fee. It is a waste of resources to process a credit card through a live representative when a computer can handle it perfectly fine.

    On the other hand, my electric company charges $5 for making credit card payments over the Internet. Now THAT is ridiculous.

  16. greensmurf says:

    @valthun: Its not that, I love paying my bill to an automated TOUCH TONE bill payment system. What I hate is spending 10 minutes on the phone to a voice recognition system that cannot recognize clearly spoken English. And I am talking about the word YES. I dont have an accent so I dont get why the program is so crappy. Having to repeat the word Yes 10 times is a friggen joke.
    All I ask is they give the option for touch tone, Good luck for those that try yo pay their bill in a noisy area because you are shit outta luck.

  17. rachaeljean says:

    I don’t see how this counts as a “leak”… I’ve been getting notices on my monthly bill for at LEAST 2 months. I know that for a fact because this month’s bill had a clarification printed on it. I live in the Northwest.

    It’s not a fee to pay on the phone via the automated system, it’s a fee to wait in the queues and pay it with a human. Which is a dumb deterrent, but then again it’s dumb to insist to pay it with a person when there are so many other options available that don’t hog up CSR’s and increase wait times. Also, it potentially exposes you to identity theft. :p

  18. consumerd says:

    @wwwhitney:

    On the other hand, my electric company charges $5 for making credit card payments over the Internet. Now THAT is ridiculous.

    I agree that is rediculous, so far I haven’t been charged anything paying mine online, over the automated phone thing, or anything like that. PHH mortage charged me $15 just to pay it online before it was due on the 16th. Now if the statement was dated on the 1st as due and the late charge was after the 16th, why does it cost me an extra $15 to pay it on say the 5th or say the 10th?

    No one over there could explain that one to me, so I switched mortage companies on the re-rate of my mortgage and for the most part I am happy.

    As long as I don’t pay these people right on the 16th they are happy. Ironically I have their system auto-pay on the 13th, and I have not heard a peep from them otherwise.

  19. krom says:

    Look, the guy who did all that work laying off the domestic employees and signing the contract with the South Asian CRM contractor has to get paid somehow.

  20. Rando says:

    This really isn’t news… A lot of companies do this and I 100% agree. Quit being DBAGS and wasting company resources for something the VRU can do for you.

  21. ghettoimp says:

    They don’t let dry loop customers (like me) pay online, either.

  22. PermanentStar says:

    I have to pay to pay with a person, or online with my gas company, my electric company, and I think comcast charges a “convenience fee” too…but I can’t remember. I had to cancel them a few months ago since my computer can’t even run windows, and I can’t afford to replace it right now…

  23. SkipToMyLou says:

    During an earlier discussion of this topic, a predication was made that at some time in the future companies will charge customers to leave the recorded information/voice mail/automated robot/voice activated menu loop and talk to a human. I forgot to mention that there already is an organization that does precisely this… the American Embassy. If you are a non American citizen calling the American Embassy in an overseas location and want to ask someone questions that cannot be answered by info from the website or voice mail it’s money up front to talk to a human. The last time I had to do it, it was $11.95 for ten minutes. And of course they gave what turned out to be very, very wrong immigration advice.

  24. tme2nsb says:

    This was reported already…

  25. tme2nsb says:

    @tme2nsb: And here it is: [consumerist.com]

  26. bravo369 says:

    charged to pay by phone, charged to pay online and then there’s some companies out there that will charge a paper fee if they still have to mail you a paper bill. What recourse does one have if a company starts charging for every single method of payment?

  27. irfan says:

    Chase cards charge you $10 for a phone payment. lots of companies do this, why is it news?

  28. myasir says:

    Our gas and electric company charge $10 and $15 to pay over the phone respectively. The gas company also charges $10 to pay over the internet unless you use their autopay system. AT&T is not breaking any new ground here.

  29. digdug says:

    This article reminded me to check on my AT&T bill. Here’s what I got when I tried to do it online:

    Temporarily Unavailable
    The server you are attempting to contact is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later. We apologize for the inconvenience.

  30. FLConsumer says:

    Tampa Electric’s been charging $5 to pay over the phone or internet. As an added insult, they cap payments at $500 per transaction, complete with an extra $5 per $500 charge.

  31. DevPts says:

    Fail

    Not new. A significant number of service providers [regardless of service] do this.

    Sometimes the fee will be waived by simply asking, regardless of numerous notifications to the contrary: “Is there a fee for this transaction?”

    If the answer is yes ask the CSR to justify the fee. More often than not after hearing the justification coming from their own mouth they reconsider and waive it.

    The cincher is the fee for using the automated voice line that rarely works without inciting a great deal of frustration leaving the caller begging to speak to a human.

  32. eblack says:

    I wish we could do this at work. People always call and ask stupid questions, or want something that’s really simple to do through our web site. There are only two of us answering phones, and when someone takes 30 minutes of my time for an issue they could solve themselves, it really cuts into my productivity.

    We already charge people more to place an order by phone, I wish we could stack some more fees on top of that.

  33. bobbrich says:

    Incompetent people/company is too soft of a word to use. There is no word to discribe how bad this company really is. One person wrote about spending 45 minutes on the phone trying to solve a problem, how about over 34 hours over a three month period, and three lost days of work.
    Attempting to add my step son and his wife to our “family plan”, the new AT&T added over $200 of extras to all four phones that were neither asked for or even mentioned during the order, AND they sent and charged for extra equipment tht was not ordered. Normal bill with the so-called “bundle” – $185, add two family plan phones for $10 a month each plus taxesn next bill $587. No customer service rep or service rep manager could explain the bill to me. My final question to them was “Exactly what do I owe you today?” I was told $247 and immediately EFT them that amount. Next bill was $727, I went ballistic. I had returned the extra equipment, at my cost, called and spent five hours trying to get an explanation. Not only did they not remove the added services, but was told by both a trained customer service rep and his manager, that someone had added $200 to the account , but could not explain why. Serveral more phone calls and hours, I could not get an answer, but each time I would ask the same question, how much do I owe you today and the amount was immediately sent. As I was told by the manager’s boss, the bill comes from the wireless division and when bundled with other services, the money is divided up. I was actually told that the worst thing I could have done was bundle the services. This boss, Tanya Taylor, said that AT&T did not know where the payments went to or how the money got to the other services. She gave me her direct line, joke! Try to call back to someone’s direct line and their mailbox is full for over a week. At that time I called the other services and had my land line, and internet service disconnected, of course not without a fight. Do not get a bill for over month, so I take it upon myself to call, get an amount and pay. Now, over two and a half months without a bill, but serveral phone calls from AT&T threatening to cut our cell service if we don’t pay over $500, my wife begged them not to and sent them our last dollar from our checking account which at that time was only $200 over the phone. More phone calls to supervisor’s supervisors, Mac Lawson and Tom Clarke the “Executive Escalation Response Case Manager”, each leaving a phone number that they will not answer because they work different hours than my wife and myself.
    I could go on forever, but what good would it do, I think you get the picture. But one last kicker, I had my landline disconneted over two months ago and am still being billed, although I do not even have the same phone number.
    Yes, I am writing the FCC and so should everyone else that has this so called service. Also post your blog on every site that you can find, just cut and paste. Hope some people get this. Thank you for reading.