A faithful reader is in a snit after getting his phone bill (AT&T) today. I don’t have one at hand and can’t otherwise comment, but he’s a reliable sort. Anyone have any insight on this complaint?

If you got your AT&T bill today take a look at page 3, where it says “Rate Change.”  Turns out the “Basic Local Service-Residence” rate should have been $13.74 since Jan. 1, 2006.  Instead, they’ve been charging $16.85 a month all year.  That’s right, they’ve been overcharging customers by $3.11 each month for 12 months, or $37.32 total.

Keep reading.  You will notice that AT&T, unbounded in its generosity, will start the new lower rate on Jan. 7, 2007, more than a year after it should have started.

Hmmm.  What’s missing?  Would it be a credit or a refund for the $37.32 that I’ve already paid them?  And what would be the interest rate on that over-payment by thousands of customers over 12 months?

Also, my best wishes to you in calling the 800 number to get an explanation or a resolution to the problem.  I was on hold for ages (at first they told me I didn’t even have an AT&T account, even though I was holding the AT&T bill in my hand and have had the phone number for more than two years.)  Then they said they’d have somebody call me “before
the end of the day tomorrow” to work this out.

Ah, the good old days of Maw Bell are here again.  Just in time for the Christmas season.

UPDATE: This is a puzzler. Several people have received these bills, but an AT&T spokesman can’t yet explain it and he’s still working on it. This is my own speculation based on what I’ve heard so far. LR base rates have been and will continue to be $16.85. But AT&T, in some smaller exchanges around Arkansas with lower base rates, is putting a small rate increase into effect that should have taken effect Jan. 1 2006. The new rate will be $13.74. That rate increase notice has been going out this week. It sounds to me like it may have erroneously been included in some LR bills. But that’s just speculation..

UPDATE II: Question answered. Our speculation was correct. The announcement about an overlooked rate increase, to $13.74 a month, for a small number of exchanges in Arkansas was incorrectly included in an unknown number of bills sent to people who are already paying a higher basic rate ($16.85 in the case of the first person of many who called us.) He and the others will not be getting a rate cut. They will continue to pay $16.85. A corrective message will be sent in next month’s bill.