Businesses don’t always behave in an ethical fashion. It’s sad to say, but it would be silly to deny that some organizations simply exist to build the wallets of executives and investors. Take a look at Walmart, as an example. The company employs roughly 2 million people, most of which are working low level positions and making wages that easily qualify these individuals for government assistance programs. The company’s profits are down to a lowly $3.78 billion for the last quarter. Despite this minuscule profit [sic], it’s doubtful that executives are having trouble paying for utilities and feeding their families.
It has been said that most crimes are committed because an opportunity presents itself. For some, money is main motivating factor to undertake most anyventures. Though money can’t buy happiness, some argue that it is easier to be happy when living expenses can be comfortably covered and material possessions can be purchased at will. Unfortunately, this is often done at the expense of other equally deserving individuals.
Adding up the $$
A few months ago AT&T caught some bad publicity for a business decision made a few months back. The company decided that it would introduce a new fee to all mobile customers. The Mobility Administrative Fee appended to customers’ bills totals $0.61 per contract. If you are an AT&T customer, you will notice this new charge has been wedged into the taxes and fee section of your bill.
Though it doesn’t seem like a lot, this will up AT&T’s revenue about half a billion dollars a year. Most won’t mind (or really notice) the extra charge but it is still a somewhat sneaky maneuver. It actually becomes kind of funny when you take into account their earning report released for the first quarter of 2013. This number is almost exactly the value of the diluted EPS from the first quarter of last year meaning that amount was the likely the inspiration for the new fee.
It should also be pointed out that the company profited a total of $3.7 billion after a total earning of $31.4 billion for the quarter. This is pretty good considering the company is investing so much in the fiber network expansion in the US. Stacked against Walmart, it’s clear that AT&T has a stronger business model considering that Walmart would rank 19th in the world if fit were a country comparing their revenue to other countries’ GDP figures, yet profits roughly the same amount as a company that earns less money.
Fortunately, AT&T is striving to make the customer experience better. Do they absolutely need the extra revenue? Probably not. At least the company is distributing their new fee in a way that won’t emphatically affect clientele. Hopefully, it will be used for customer benefit and not for executives’ yachts or sports cars.
Rocking the trust boat
AT&Ts tax will likely annoy some people but fortunately that is the extent of the harm felt by consumers. In Canada, consumers of telecom services are possibly the most mistreated of any developed country. Journalists and bloggers are beginning to speak out on behalf of all Canadians, demanding a more just model.
According to a case study conducted by OpenMedia.ca, Canadians pay some of the highest prices in the world for cell phone service. In order to combat this perception, the three largest telecom providers, Bell, Telus and Rogers, joined forces to launch an advertising campaign to sooth the raging Canadians. This coalition (which collectively owns 94% of the Canadian market) are attempting to coerce consumers into complacency over the service pricing inflation.
To be fair to these companies who are exploiting consumers, Canadian provinces have some of the highest paid citizens in the world. Alberta, for example, has an average per capita GDP of around $75,000 which makes it 4th in the world based on the CIA World Factbook. However, these actions have cause enough outrage that efforts are in place to educate consumers on the unfair trading practice further making strides to change this pricing schema.
Actions against the big, bad businesses
Thanks again to the efforts of OpenMedia.ca, consumers have a toolkit that can be used to combat the companies and gain higher ground in the battle against Canadian telecom. The centerpiece of the page has a form that works like a petition. A web petition’s effectiveness is debatable but it doesn’t hurt to make the effort to list yourself as opposed to the unfair pricing.
The page also provides advice for other actions that can be taken against these providers. Links are provided to alternative services consumers can use for internet and calling which may send a message to these larger companies. The toolkit page also contains links to other pages that give insight on successful negotiating techniques for reclaiming some of the money charged by these companies. If all else fails, there is direct link to a complaint service from the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services.