This week we got yet another letter from the company we used to have home internet service through. They were advertising internet plus phone service for $19.99 a month for 12 months. Sounded quite reasonable. Then I started to read the fine print.
First of all, we would have to sign up for paperless billing and automatic payments, otherwise the price went up by five dollars. Well, that was fine, and I read on. The fine print on the back side added that the actual speed of the internet service varied, and was not guaranteed to be the advertised speed. The speed was based on 2016 FCC testing. There would be extra charges, like equipment, installation, taxes, fees and “other applicable charges”. They did not elaborate as to how much each of these would be. Internet service was limited to a single outlet. And finally, the offer was only for new residential customers. And alas, we are not new customers.
This reminded me of our electric bills. The past month’s bill was a prime example of the bill not being what you think it should be. We actually only used $34.88 in electricity. But by the time the utility company got done adding all their taxes and special fees, the bill came out to $76.27! Ten dollars of the bill was for a manual read of our meter (we declined the “smart meter” that would collect detailed personal data on our energy usage), but that still leaves $32 for other line items! Items like system access, distribution, energy efficiency, power plant securitization, taxes, and a low-income assistance fund.
The electric company has its customers over a barrel, having a monopoly on its service. Unless we want to live like the Amish, or be off-grid with solar panels, we are stuck paying what they charge us. Internet service is still optional, however. I will keep reading the fine print on these offers, until I see one that actually is a good deal for our family.