AT&T And Others Make You Pay For The Privilege Of Paying Your Bill

Want to pay your wireless bill in an AT&T store? That’ll be $2 extra for the “privilege” of handing it to a clerk. Want to pay your credit card bill over the phone? That will be $15.

The disparate impact of policies designed to discourage consumers from paying in cash–like the AT&T’s in-store charge–falls squarely on the poor, many of whom do not have bank accounts. (Bank accounts are not particularly useful if you never have any money to keep in them.) AT&T says the poor should just suck it up and get pay-as-you-go phones.

But these policies are also an indication of how many companies really make their money these days: not from providing the service they purport to provide, but by nickel-and-diming customers with fees at every turn. Heck, some credit card companies have chucked all but the pretense of lending money and turned entirely to generating fees.

Maybe AT&T was just frustrated with its customers who paid their bills on time, and decided this was a good way to squeeze a bit more money out of them, too.