A study sponsored by utility-watch-dog group Utility Consumers' Action Network, and conducted by auditors with Teletruth, the New Networks Institute, and LTC Consulting found that phone bills are more than expensive. The study of 703 consumers found that many San Diego consumers are paying far more for long-distance service and wireless service than they -- and regulators -- believe.
The consultants reported that "Unlike Federal regulators, who have evaluated phone bills with number-fiddling and third-party data, we used true cost accounting to examine every charge for more than 700 San Diego phone bills."
Finding in the report include:
- Deregulation has increased phone costs for low- income families. For some local services, these increases were as high as 346%.
- For the past 8 years, the FCC has used deceptive statistics from questionable third-party sources to create an illusion of lower phone prices and regulatory success.
- Long distance charges have increased, on average, to 55¢ a minute. Only about 8% of land line customers pay less than 10 cents per minute for long-distance calls. The majority pay well over 10 cents per minute, with 20% of people paying more than 50 cents per minute and 10% paying more than $1.
- The average cost for a wireless call is $3.02 per minute. Wireless costs have increased for many customers because customers are only utilizing 32% of their plan allowance
- 90% of all AT&T and Verizon phone bills are improperly taxed.
- There is no meaningful phone competition for San Diego households.