TX: Bundling Telecom Services May Not Always Save a Bundle

Posted on June 5, 2007 - 8:00am.

Note: More evidence of the 'triple ploy'.

from: Houston Chronicle

Bundling Telecom Services May Not Always Save a Bundle

June 5, 2007
By Vicki Lee Parker

Bundling is the buzzword in the telecom industry these days. Cable TV companies, phone companies and Internet providers want to sell us all sorts of services for one price. It’s a big price, but cheaper than paying for each separately, they tell us.

For a busy consumer, bundling seems cheap, fast and easy.

But are you saving a bundle?

Not nearly as much as you might think.

Consider a recent AT&T Triple Choice promotion: telephone, Internet and your choice of cable or cellular phone service for $99.95 a month. The ad says you’ll save $156 a year.

But if you need more long-distance minutes than the promotion offers, there’s an additional charge.

Other upgrades or add-ons such as voicemail also are not included in the promotion. Those cost extra.

Since a lot of the extra fees and taxes aren’t mentioned in the promotions — or are printed in small type — many people are confused when they get their first bill.

Beverly Baskin of the Better Business Bureau said her office has received 199 calls about bundling packages in the past 12 months.

Baskin said that a number of the complaints were legitimate billing errors. The bureau was able to resolve more than 98.8 percent of those issues satisfactorily.

But the bulk of the complaints were from people who regretted their purchase.

“They have buyer’s remorse,” Baskin said. “What sounded like a very good package in reality was not what they wanted to sign up for.”

Baskin said that the bureau has not identified any pattern where any business deliberately misled customers.

The problem is that many people are not taking the time to compare prices, Baskin said. Also, people are not asking the right questions when they inquire about bundling specials.

( categories: AT&T | State Franchises | TEXAS )