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Real-World 3G Monthly Cost With Taxes and Fees?

timothy posted more than 6 years ago | from the best-salesman-bluntly-tells-the-truth dept.

Cellphones 483

Kristl writes "I have called AT&T and walked into several AT&T stores to ask 'How much will an AT&T phone plan cost per month with taxes and fees and everything?'. No one can answer this question. They are evasive and become testy when I push them on it. Their answer is they can't tell me what the government is going to charge me as the fees can vary month to month, but I've been an AT&T customer for several years, and my taxes and fees have not varied more than a dollar in all of that time. So I question them: 'Can you just tell me what the taxes and fees will be for a 3G plan in California that has the basic calling plan, basic data plan, and the basic text plan?' I even do the math for them, that's $75. Okay AT&T, what are the taxes and fees on $75? Oh, they can't tell me that, as the taxes and fees can vary from month to month." There's more to this justified rant (below); real-world numbers in comments could help answer the questions that cell carriers seem content to sidestep as completely as possible."Okay ATT, can you tell me what the taxes and fees were on $75 plan last month? No.

Okay AT&T, cn you tell me what my taxes and fees were last month on my current $40 plan ... that only requires reading my bill right? Oh good! They can read! Yes they can tell me what the taxes and fees were on my $40 account last month.

Okay AT&T, we have progress ... can you now pull up a plan that has a $40 calling plan, a $30 3G data plan, and a $5 text plan? The answer? No, they can't do that, that would be an invasion of privacy.

So I ask, can they go through the motions of setting my account up for the iphone plan I described above and then tell me what the taxes and fees amount to? Oh, of course not!

This doesn't seem like it should be so hard. What is the conspiracy that ATT refuses to tell me what the my bill would cost per month were I to switch to a new plan?"

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483 comments

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simple solution (5, Insightful)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257509)

Too expensive or looks shady? Don't fucking buy it. Take your money elsewhere.

Re:simple solution (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257621)

and where is elsewhere? Seriously, when they're all doing it where is elsewhere???

Re:simple solution (4, Insightful)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257691)

and where is elsewhere? Seriously, when they're all doing it where is elsewhere???

There is no there, there.

Re:simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257695)

exactly....

Re:simple solution (4, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257897)

Don't fucking buy it. Take your money elsewhere.

Can I do that with my income taxes too?

Re:simple solution (3, Interesting)

Perf (14203) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258095)

Actually, Yes.

If you live in another country, you can pay their taxes. The first ~$90,000 of your out-of-country income is exempt from U.S. taxes.

Two things to be careful of:
1. In most cases, foreign taxes might be more than U.S. taxes.
2. Might be difficult to get a job or establish residence.

But your cell phone costs will probably be cheaper. e.g. Mainland China - about 2 minutes/US$0.01

Re:simple solution (4, Funny)

Divebus (860563) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257911)

An invasion of privacy? Oh puleeeez. May you should ask the NSA who is tapped into your phone. They'll tell you everything about your "plan" with your own tax money.

Re:simple solution (1, Funny)

chemisus (920383) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258083)

according to my calculations, its 42.

Biased much? (4, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257519)

You know, I don't really like the iPhone either, but this is a bit much. TFS' complaint could be used for any phone, any carrier in the U.S. I'm not saying it isn't crooked, or that the policies are particularly just, just that this was a problem well before Steve ever even thought of the iPhone.
Anyway, direct answer to the question of "how much total for basic calling, data, and text?" is pretty much always about $100 to $120 here in the U.S. For the iPhone, Treo, Blackberry, Voyager, whatever. In case you actually didn't know...

Re:Biased much? (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257535)

Are you serious? $30 in taxes and fees on the $70 plan?

Re:Biased much? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257585)

Which part of "about" confused you?

Re:Biased much? (1)

Free the Cowards (1280296) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257915)

The part where, extrapolating from my $40 plan, I would expect to pay under $80 total for a $70 plan plus taxes and fees. $80 is nowhere near "about $100".

Yeah, that's about right. (2, Funny)

gnutoo (1154137) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257589)

Wiretaping and DPI are expensive.

Re:Biased much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257865)

I agree! I love sarcasm as much as the next asshole, but w

Re:Biased much? (4, Informative)

geekboybt (866398) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258165)

My Verizon plan was $79.99 + $10 txt + $5 insurance. That's $94.99. With taxes, which varied, it would come out to ~$98 or 99. So, while the original OP exaggerated a bit (especially for the iPhone, which would cost ~$10 month less), it's not difficult to spend that much per month. I switched to the iPhone, and saved $5 month + $5 insurance (=$10). All this conversation about "OMFG THE IPHONE IS SOOOO EXPENSIVE" is really just a way to get visitors to the site - it applies to every single 3G phone out there, and (as I've shown) even more in some cases.

Re:Biased much? (5, Funny)

n dot l (1099033) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257605)

...this was a problem well before Steve ever even thought of the iPhone.

What? Did the universe even exist back then?

My 2c as a former Sprint retail employee (5, Informative)

aztektum (170569) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257649)

The answer is: They honestly have no idea. They're trained to say what corporate tells them.

Training typically focuses on trying to sell you on gizmo features and plan upgrades. They simply ARE NOT given that sort of info and, in my experience, the people that work these jobs are not the type to go the extra mile to figure it out or in some cases don't want to say the wrong thing and have an angry customer come back and throw the phone at them (seen it happen over the most marginal shit.)

Re:My 2c as a former Sprint retail employee (5, Interesting)

strabes (1075839) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257847)

That is definitely true for T-Mobile as well. The main difference is that whenever I call T-mobile their reps seem to be 20-something flirty females. I've asked questions about how much plans cost and when our contract expires, etc, and it seems like they'll do anything to get you to stay. One time I called to ask when my family's contract expires, and the girl immediately started telling me about how we just became eligible for free phones and such. I was sort of surprised so I asked her how long we had been eligible and she hesitated for a moment and then said "uuhh like a week." She definitely made that up.

Re:My 2c as a former Sprint retail employee (2, Interesting)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257951)

You don't think that T-Mobile is kicking customer retention into high gear because people are leaving for ATT+iPhone, maybe? That's what it sounds like to me. Like how you can get your APR lowered on a credit card by hinting that you're considering to cancel your card...

Re:My 2c as a former Sprint retail employee (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258069)

that's why I go to car toy's. or another 3rd party retailer, they actually tell you this kind of stuff.

Re:Biased much? (2, Informative)

letsgolightning (1004592) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257895)

I'll admit my example may be pretty rare (and to be completely honest, I'm not sure if this plan is still offered) but my phone plan, with data and text is only $30 a month, with about another $4 in fees and taxes.

So for roughly $34 a month, I get:
-500 'anytime' minutes
-Unlimited text/pic/video
-Unlimited data
-Unlimited Sprint-to-Sprint calling
-Free nights start at 7pm
-Free nationwide roaming (i.e., no 'Local calling area')

As I hinted earlier, this was not an advertised plan, and did involve some work on my part, but my 45-60 minutes of work seems worth it seeing as most pay double or triple for similar plans, even within sprint.

Mt point is, while most advertised plans may be $100-$120, I see that much more like the sticker price on a new car, than say the price of a TV at walmart.

What iPhone? (1)

shmlco (594907) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258059)

What iPhone? The OP mentioned AT&T and 3G. And mentioned data and text plans. But she (Kristl) didn't mention the iPhone.

As you say, those could be for ANY smartphone sold by AT&T. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Re:Biased much? (1)

Lunatrik (1136121) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258191)

I disagree. I use a Centro (a fancy-appeal-to-the-masses Treo) and used a Treo 650 prior to it. I have never paid more than $60, including unlimited text messages, internet and no less than 450 minutes (I had 750 for a while, even). Where are you getting the 100-120 number? Maybe thats true for the iPhone, but not for everything else as you indicate.

3G??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257523)

I use wifi you insensitive clod!

75$ (0, Troll)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257525)

What's that in real money? I guess around 30 euros, what a deal!

I know, I am sad as well.

Re:75$ (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257661)

You misread it. The cost is $75. This is the number "$" of the unit "75". Unless you have a conversion factor between euros and 75s, you can't convert.

Re:75$ (1)

megaditto (982598) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257737)

I use RPN.
For example do #dc -e "1 2 3 + - p"

Re:75$ (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258129)

Dollars are real money, they are the only currency that we use. Now, if you have some way of getting service with the AT&T network on US soil in Europe, I would love to hear about it.

Until then the currency is the only real currency applicable to the situation.

ever fill out a tax form? (4, Informative)

TheSHAD0W (258774) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257533)

Figuring out the taxes on a phone line is rather complimakated, difficult enough that providers have made mistakes on it in the past and had to refund overcharges or eat the difference in undercharges. I'm not surprised that the salespeople don't know, and I'd bet nobody on phone support will know either. This is a brand new service, and once customers start receiving their typical monthly bills you'll be able to find out.

Re:ever fill out a tax form? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257933)

They used the "that would be an invasion of privacy" cop-out on that one (finding out from an existing account's bill.)

IMO, anybody who uses "that would be an invasion of privacy" as an excuse to hide something they don't want to reveal deserves a full legal investigation into what else they might be hiding.

Re:ever fill out a tax form? (4, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258145)

So in other words, you would be fine with customer service reps randomly looking up your account records to answer this sort of question?

I can not imagine a way in which that isn't an invasion of privacy, and I would not be doing business with AT&T any longer were they to allow that sort of behavior. It's bad enough that the NSA may or may not be listening in, do you really want some underpaid salesperson snooping as well?

Re:ever fill out a tax form? (5, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257977)

Figuring out the taxes on a phone line is rather complimakated

And yet they manage to send out hundreds of thousands of bills every month that calculate it down to the penny. Sure, they might make mistakes and have to offer refunds or disclaimers, but there's no excuse for them to not be able to tell you exactly what a $79.99 plan in a given ZIP code would have been billed after all taxes/fees were added last month.

This is basic customer service, not some advanced alien technology beyond the reach of AT&T.

Re:ever fill out a tax form? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258065)

You fail to grasp that all of those taxes are handled by business rules on the back end, and there are analysts/whatever-ists whose job it is every month to look at any changes the local/state/fed government has made to taxes and apply it. ALL of that logic is handled in the back end billing system. It's not a button a sales rep can push on their till.

I work for a major US cell company, and I'd like to say, on behalf of all of my brothers and sisters in the industry, even the competing carriers: If we tell you we can't pull these figures out of our ass on demand, IT MEANS WE CAN'T. STFU AND GTFO ABOUT IT.

Re:ever fill out a tax form? (1)

Chris L. Mason (3425) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258189)

Figuring out the taxes on a phone line is rather complimakated

And yet they manage to send out hundreds of thousands of bills every month that calculate it down to the penny. Sure, they might make mistakes and have to offer refunds or disclaimers, but there's no excuse for them to not be able to tell you exactly what a $79.99 plan in a given ZIP code would have been billed after all taxes/fees were added last month.

This is basic customer service, not some advanced alien technology beyond the reach of AT&T.

Yes, and besides, it's not like they don't have some type of electronic device in front of them that would do all those calculations for them automatically.

Re:ever fill out a tax form? (1)

hpa (7948) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258135)

Figuring out the taxes on a phone line is rather complimakated, difficult enough that providers have made mistakes on it in the past and had to refund overcharges or eat the difference in undercharges. I'm not surprised that the salespeople don't know, and I'd bet nobody on phone support will know either.

They don't know, because corporate doesn't want them to know either how to do it, or for that matter, the result. They're supposed to make it as hard as possible to compare prices.

It depends on the state... (2, Informative)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257537)

Every state has a different way of taxing communications service. Florida is the worst of them all from what I've read. Take your current cell phone bill and estimate off the taxes currently on it. Some of the taxes and fees will be a fixed amount per line, others will be based on a percentage of the total bill (sales tax typically).

Also the way cell companies figure out how to tax you differs. Some (such as Sprint) base your taxes on the billing address, others (like Verizon Wireless) base your taxes on the area code your wireless number is located in.

Re:It depends on the state... (2, Insightful)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258049)

Ah the joys of requiring advertised prices to include sales tax.

And yes I do realise that that will never work in the US due to your infuriatingly complicated tax system.

I don't get the question (2, Informative)

Rob Kaper (5960) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257541)

What kind of taxes are we talking about here? I can't think of any other than VAT/sales tax and those are pretty straight-forward. Are there any other taxes for cell phones in the US which are directly charged to the consumer?

Re:I don't get the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257639)

It's not simple like the UK :)

There's E911 tax and others like local gov screwing you tax.

US Wireless Taxes (5, Informative)

sjbe (173966) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257685)

Are there any other taxes for cell phones in the US which are directly charged to the consumer?

Yes there are various excise taxes [wikipedia.org] levied on cell phone bills. The federal government as well as state and local government each levy their own taxes on wireless communications. This [taxfoundation.org] is a slightly outdated listing of taxes by state. For the most part it is a "because we can" sort of tax courtesy of our elected officials.

Re:US Wireless Taxes (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257955)

I know that I have to pay sales tax every month on my ATT wireless bill.

Re:I don't get the question (4, Informative)

Khaed (544779) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257751)

On my (ATT but not iphone) bill, I pay:

Federal Universal Service Charge
Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge
911 Training Fee
State Sales Tax
911 Service Fee

The biggest one is state sales tax, followed by the FUSC, then 911 Service Fee. The Regulatory Cost and 911 Training are $0.25 -- the 911 bit is $0.05. I pay about $6 a month in fees, overall.

Re:I don't get the question (1)

dingo8baby (1262090) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258057)

TRAINING FEE? seriously? wow.

Re:I don't get the question (4, Informative)

cdrudge (68377) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257771)

I don't know about other carriers, but here's how my T-mobile plan breaks down:
1000 Minute myFaves Family Plan
59.99 - Monthly plan price
1.32 - Federal Universal Service Fund
0.84 - State Gross Receipts Tax
4.20 - State Sales Tax
0.27 - State Universal Service Fund

Line 1
5.99 - Internet
5.00 - 400 Text Messages Plan .08 - State Gross Receipts Tax .06 - State Sales Tax .03 - Relay Service Device Fund .50 - State 911 .86 - Regulatory Programs Fee*

Line 2
5.99 - Internet
0.45 - 2 text messages (no txt plan)
0.01 - Federal Universal Service Fund
0.01 - State Gross Receipts Tax
0.09 - State Sales Tax
0.03 - Relay Service Device Fund
0.50 - State 911
0.86 - Regulatory Programs Fee*

87.08 - Total

*Fee we (T-mobile) collect and retain to help cover our (T-mobile's) costs related to funding and complying with government mandates, programs and obligations.

Re:I don't get the question (2, Informative)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257873)

My phone bill last month included the following:

Taxes:
Virginia 911 tax: 0.75
Virginia sales tax: 1.70

Surcharges (the phone company is permitted by the government to assess these charges due to specific regulations and requirements that the government places upon them):
Federal Universal Service Fund [wikipedia.org] : 0.77
Virginia Gross Receipts: 0.16
Virginia Special Revenue: 0.03

Other charges:
Administrative Charge: 0.75
Regulatory Charge: 0.20

That's on a normally $35 bill.

wow (3, Insightful)

rastoboy29 (807168) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257561)

..yet another way they fuck you.  They SET the "taxes" and "fees", either through the locally bribed PUC or just arbitrarily on their own.

Like the "franchise fee".  That's my favorite.  I don't give a fuck what you have to pay for your fucking franchise--please stop pretending like you don't have any choice in the matter.  But on the other hand, in a lot of places, they actually rig it up so that they are _required by law_ to charge for things like that, for money that they actually keep.

Ask on a cell phone forum (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257563)

The taxes will probably be comparable to sales tax--a few bucks on a $40 plan, e.g. With a more expensive (e.g. data) plan it will of course be more, but if you're willing to shell out $60 or whatever for a data plan you should also be prepared to shell out $8 or whatever in taxes.

To get an approximation just google "XYZ plan taxes fees forum" and see what people say. For example:

http://forums.macrumors.com/showpost.php?s=bace4f039998a970fb0736cb9659d8b2&p=4412192&postcount=11 [macrumors.com]

Peace out.

AT&T isn't going to be responsible if it chang (1)

kahoku (1235002) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257575)

Its doubtful the peons at the store have access to any set of formulas or a calculator that will tell you the taxes etc. The reason is simple: AT&T isn't interested in being responsible if some regulation changes and suddenly your bill goes up. If they said anything, even with a giant disclaimer, most people would run back in to the store kicking and screaming about their .30 overcharge, even if it was correct and not under AT&T's control.

US weirdness (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257597)

In most of Europe, sellers of consumer products are required to state the actual final price that the consumer is paying. And that includes monthly cell phone tariffs.

Eliminate Component Based Pricing (4, Insightful)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257601)

When traveling to California last year, that was one thing that I really didn't like - how prices are quoted exclusive of tax.

In Australia, the price quoted has to be the price that is paid by the consumer - the airline industry recently got into trouble for not doing this i.e advertising cheap fares exclusive of the fuel levy, tax and other surcharges.

In addition to this, the amount of tax that was charge very often ends up on the receipt so businesses can use it to calculate their GST credits etc

Re:Eliminate Component Based Pricing (2, Interesting)

larkost (79011) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257991)

This is done all across the US, and the main reason is that the taxes you are going to pay depend on where you buy the product. And not just depending on what state (but that is the biggest difference), but also depending on the particular city. So any advertising would have to take that into account making national campains would be unworkable.

So rather than that everything is adversised without taxes.

Re:Eliminate Component Based Pricing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258215)

I wish more people understood what you just said. Especially those that knee-jerk "OMFG Europe is SOOO MUCH BETTER because we do it differently."

Who cares? (2)

HairyCanary (688865) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257609)

Really? If you can afford $75/month, you can afford it with taxes. I can see their point for not wanting to give out numbers on this, because of the variables involved. Plus, if they try to quote you a "with taxes cost" then you might try to hold them to that figure. Better to just sidestep it and let you figure out the taxes yourself, like you would have to with any other purpose that is taxed.

FWIW, I paid $62.96 last month on my iPhone $60/month plan, and $63.42 the month before that. So extrapolate from there, and for a $75/month plan budget $80 and you'll be close enough.

Re:Who cares? (4, Insightful)

King_TJ (85913) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257781)

I strongly disagree! When you're talking about a month after month fee that you'll likely be paying for as long as 24 months straight, even an extra $10 quickly becomes an extra $240 you're paying in that time period. Unless you're independently wealthy or something, that's not just some "small change" worthy of just ignoring! That's about what I paid, total, for my original iPhone I bought off Apple's refurbished store.

And the issue I have with AT&T is, I suspect their "taxes" also include a lot of dubious charges. Being a govt. regulated company, it seems it's easier for them to get approval for more funding through a new or increased tax than by actually getting FTC approval for a rate increase.

I know I initially did the $79.99 per month plan, thinking like my old US Cellular plan that was priced about the same, I'd wind up paying around $85 after taxes. But somehow, AT&T wound up billing me more like $97 each month.

Re:Who cares? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257857)

Perhaps you live in a cheap area, as my $70 iPhone plan costs around $85/month in San Francisco. So yeah, the first time I saw that bill I was shocked.

Re:Who cares? (5, Insightful)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257907)

Better to just sidestep it and let you figure out the taxes yourself, like you would have to with any other purpose that is taxed.

I don't know about you, but I don't buy anything else on which the tax is unknown by the seller, even though the seller is the one collecting it. When i buy something, they ring it up, the machine calculates the tax, and they tell me how much it is before I pay. The problem is that they're essentially telling you to sign a two year contract committing yourself to paying whatever bill they send you, but won't tell you what the bill will be.

It would be very easy for ATT to push out a list to their stores every month in which they say what each price plan worked out to with taxes for each state or zip code in the past billing cycle, with a disclaimer that of course if taxes and fees change the amount will be different in the future.

They just don't want to because they don't give a shit about customers or customer service, not because it's a difficult task or some mysteriously unknowable figure.

AT&T's customer service is awful anyway (3, Interesting)

sokoban (142301) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257615)

I went in the other day to get an iPhone and change my plan that I've had for several years and they were surly as hell.

The guy who was waiting on me kept just walking away for a couple minutes at a time and wouldn't answer anything straight.

He wouldn't say when they were getting another shipment other than to say they could put me on a waiting list if I paid in full today and then it would be one to two weeks.

He never really looked me in the eyes and kept mumbling when I would talk to him.

Most questions were answered with "I don't know" and then when it came down to it, I had to dial 611 to change over my service because I was an old customer.

I still want to get an iPhone because it really is the perfect device for me and my mac based household, but I wish I had an Apple Store near me where I could have at least gotten decent customer service.

Re:AT&T's customer service is awful anyway (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257673)

The ATT stores don't give a crap. If you have an Apple store close by, you should hit them up. I've had nothing but great experiences with them.

I hate AT&T (3, Interesting)

31415926535897 (702314) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257629)

This doesn't have to do with cell phones, but it does have to do with AT&T. About 2 or 3 years ago I got a landline phone plan with them that was unlimited local and long distance for $40 per month. It was more expensive than a place like Vonage, but I really wanted the physical land line. I got my first bill and it was $52, and there were no setup fees in there. They had managed to pack in $12, or 30%, of taxes, fees, surcharges, cost recovery (what the hell, isn't that the point of charging the first price to begin with), 911 fees, etc. So I immediately switched to VOIP. I have to say that these phone companies suck, and I cannot believe that they can't give you an all-in number.

Re:I hate AT&T (2, Insightful)

v1 (525388) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257793)

assuming they don't mark up any of the charges on the bill (kinda shows if you mark up the tax) they have to put "profit" in there somewhere. The recovery cost looks like their margin in disguise.

As for why they don't roll it all into one number, the govt requires them to spell out most of the things that go into the bill, so they have nowhere to hide the profit at. So there it is.

Re:I hate AT&T (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258007)

so there it is folks. hard core facts from an employee.

or some such.

Re:I hate AT&T (2, Insightful)

Marc_Hawke (130338) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257817)

Qwest did this to me:

I was paying between 75-80 dollars a month on my phone bill. (DSL is included in that.) I talked with the Qwest guy and they looked at my long-distance spending. It was a 'per minute' thing and ranged from 17-22 dollars. He said that I could get an unlimited plan for $15, and have a fixed rate.

So we talked about it, he had to sign me up for a 'packager' to get that plan, but he said the total would come to $75.

I talked to the salesman, while holding the bill said, I'm paying $75 a month now, can you assure me that's what this new one is? He ran the numbers again. "YUP."

So, he had to call the guy at the computer to set it all up. Before they finalized it, the guy at the computer totalled everything up and once again said "$75".

So, when I got my next bill and it was 85$ I was a little confused, but figured it was transfer fees. (I attempted to read it several times, but couldn't) Next month's bill came and it was $92.

So, I called, and the technician ran the phone and said that my features come to $75...PLUS fee's and taxes, and so I should expect the bill to be between $80 and $90 a month.

I had been lied to by both of the salesman (surprise!!) in concert. So I asked about going back to what I had before, and of course, that was impossible, because those features weren't offered anymore.

Now I'm stuck with a bill that's about $5/month more than it was before, and just waiting for an oppurtunity to get service some other way (lovely monopolies these.)

Re:I hate AT&T (1)

Cramer (69040) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258161)

Cost recovery fees are simply ways to get around regulated pricing. They cannot (easily) change the charge per line, but they can easily add "cost recovery fees" to your bill.

And don't fall for the "Universal Service" BS, either. Phone companies collect that money and keep it. It doesn't go anywhere but their own pockets. I'm pretty sure they collect more in fees than they spend providing universal service. (not that anyone can ever know.)

iPhone 3G hack is out! (3, Informative)

alias420 (873143) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257667)

While this is a little off topic it does still deal with an AT&T 3G phone. iPhone Dev Team's PwnageTool 2.0 [iphone-hacks.com] has been released to the public.

Re:iPhone 3G hack is out! (1)

WhatAmIDoingHere (742870) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258005)

And you still cannot purchase an iPhone without a 2 year contract for ATT.

AT&T $20/month unlimited prepaid 3G data (1, Informative)

jorel314 (1329109) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257721)

My current mobile solution:
- Get the cheapest prepaid AT&T Phone
- Add $20/month unlimited data plan to prepaid phone
- Get unlocked Nokia N95-3
- Put prepaid phone's SIM card in N95
- Get fring or truphone for N95 to make calls
- Use email, IM, or twitter instead of SMS

http://www.mobile-weblog.com/50226711/att_offers_unlimited_prepaid_data.php [mobile-weblog.com]

Real-World 3G Monthly Cost With Taxes and Fees? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257723)

I've worked for carriers before and there are two reasons for this issue:
1) taxes vary by your municipality not just zip code and are very complex. Also, the ordering systems and the billing systems are separate so the ordering system may not have the tax information. It may be that they only know when it actually gets to a bill (and then the first and second month will differ significantly) That said they should be able to estimate fees on a bill which is a solution we built for a company.
2) Several of the government fees aren't actually government fees they are cost recovery fees which the telco's set themselves and add on saying they are to recovery fees for paperwork / compliance due to government regulations (which is really just a cost of doing business). They don't always like to talk about this (but do generally note the fact in fine print on your bill.)
3) Due to the complications above some representatives are simply uncomfortable with taxes and fees and so avoid the question.

Of course you could build a system that hooks into the tax system to answer this exact question so its not the greatest excuse, but typically not high on the level of importance versus the cost of implementation.

moving machine (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257729)

> Anyone familiar with the idea of trying to describe a machine the way
> it works?
> like where it's being a machine working the way of having a loop with
> the problem of being in
> the middle and then to the outside as how the machine can move? so
> like if you were to make it a machine
> that does math the way it works it has machine parts that actually
> move like the way the calculation is done?
> so it moves like if this were to try and move as a real machine:

> for (i = 0; i if (i == 3) next;

> };

> so as a real machine though, that works the way that would have to as
> a machine? a machine that can't be anything really working like gears
> because of how to be in the middle of the loop is to go outside but
> sometimes not is a problem the way something has to move.

> so if that's to look like a real machine, it's not a machine that
> turns around and around mechanically though, because in the middle is
> back to the beginning. but sometimes through and back around. But it
> actually has to move like a real machine though.

> I think I know a way there is to describe a machine that works this
> way...

> say on a checkers board you have checker pieces, and say each checker
> piece is paired with another.
> now all checker pieces are pairs.
> the way said, try to make one piece able to move... but you have to
> move the other it's a pair with at the same time.
> the board is full, there's no free spaces to move to.
> so to make a piece move with it's paired piece, find where it can go
> where there's another pair that can move, that pair can move where
> another pair can move, and so on... where the last pair to move goes
> where the first pair left.
> each time you move a pair, they are not the same pair anymore once
> they've moved, each of the pair is now a pair with the piece that
> left
> where they went to make a new pair of them. this is key in figuring
> out the only way it can work so a piece can move at all.

> so knowing no first move you can make because there isn't any
> specific
> move to know, find the pair to be able to move the way where they
> move
> to another pair where each of the pair is now another pair with the
> one they move to, they move to a pair that's together. now first pair
> to move to another pair, is now not the same pair, but each a pair
> with each of the other pair.

> so move and do that, but at the same time when you get a piece of the
> first pair where it goes and the other pair moved, as a new pair now
> it can't stay there because it has to move again because of how at
> the
> same time something is making the other of the pair move. right?
> maybe
> that part is hard to see. It's the only way to figure it can move in
> any way at all.

> so it's like the last move has to be known before the first move can
> be made, because the first move that can be made is where something
> can move next, but what can move next is what carries on to the last
> move that can move where the first pair moved from. it's a recursive
> type of problem to figure out how to move a pair.

> where a pair can move is where it goes to another pair that at the
> same time is moving away making an occupancy, but when you get there
> and you're a new pair with the piece that moves from where you get
> to,
> it's not to think staying can work because now something needs the
> pair you are now to move.

> it's like so where you can never have it so you stop moving until all
> the move is complete. but nowhere in the middle, or at first or last,
> can you know how to make it work to move because the beginning is
> like
> knowing the end of how to move.

> what's interesting though is how pairs that figure themselves to be
> able to move are not all the pairs but some, but that some other
> pairs
> that figure out a way to move are the same pairs as others that
> figure
> out another way.

> and each time a pair makes a move it's all the way to where the place
> they leave has something come, but that had to be before you can move
> in the first place in idea of the problem it is because that's where
> something can move to finally get around to the last move where you
> leave, but leave where you can because you find what comes where you
> leave at first. each time a pair is moved depending on how moving
> pairs are said together is to reorganize how pairs are together, but
> to keep moving the same pairs is to find the same place they were in
> to begin with but alot of other ways too depending on which of the
> pairs together you try to move, if you say the pairs together are the
> pairs that given one pair are the ones that move at the same time
> too.

> isn't it fair to call how they behave any machine?

> there's a few things you can say like given how they're arranged pick
> a few pairs for how they're organized and see how every way you can
> move them makes a few more pairs reorganized for how you move them?
> it's like pairs can setup in any way where for any way they are
> organized is for any way other pairs are organized.

> it's like saying for every combination of a number, there's another
> combination but not linear association.

> so don't they describe any machine there can be ? like don't they
> describe working with a behavior that can be how any possible machine
> works?

> you can see how it looks like a machine when you take a pair and
> figure how it can be moved, like say one moves, but it goes where
> something else moves, and it moves where something else moves, but
> then something moves to where the first one left. so say just one of
> these that work around to move, but then say all that do. say all
> together like the ones that move around in a way but the others that
> move around in a way, you can see importantly enough for how it's a
> machine that they use the same pairs starting from somewhere else to
> move as how you can move somewhere else.

> isn't that any machine there can be? I mean like a functional machine
> to work like gears but not like gears where you have to be in the
> middle of it working to be on the outside then the otherside again.
> Like if you thought of code working as a real machine doing what a
> 'for loop' does, it has to be a machine that is in the middle of the
> 'for loop' to be to the beginning again, but then again through it
> but
> not to the beginning but through the end.
> But as a machine that actually moves the way this would have to?

> Don't moving pairs represent any machine there can be?

> See how moving pairs rearrange each time? but the way others do will
> rearrange another way if they use the same pairs? but see how to
> rearrange those ones and the other ones again make difference of how?

> See moving pairs that move together as part of the machine where for a
> condition one way is for a condition another way like they say
> together a condition that matters together. Like if part of the
> machine is one way then another part of the machine is another way,
> together matters like to change one part is to change the other part.
> But then pairs that move together another way are another part like
> they use the same pairs, because it's a part of the machine together
> with another part. But see how they're eachother? like when one part
> together moves, other part together has to move another way now?

> See them though the way you put together pairs that move with others
> that can move the way they can move, like one moves the other to move
> the other. but then others that do that do that to another that works
> it's own way. see it though the way it's a machine that can work like
> a machine can for what it is to work that way, because it's to see
> what a loop has to be for example.

> I find something special about how if you move a pair and look at it
> as a machine again, there's something to notice.

see how it's a machine though like how a machine can move with how the
pieces jump across? if you draw it the way they show which way they
would move if you pick one piece and draw where it moves, but all the
others for how one moves back where it left, but in circuit on it's
own? but see how you draw all the other circuits but they use pieces
the same as other circuits? see how moving a piece as part of one
circuit is moving pieces as part of other circuits? but now see all
circuits together but it's the same machine. see how it's the same
machine though?

so what did the machine do to get where it's at? did it run step by
step or did it jump to a middle condition? pairs that move together
look like a part of the machine where for the way the machine is in
one place is the way it is in another place. see how though it's like
to move a part of the machine you have to move all the machine because
it's together? see how a pair is to move on it's own but is it's own
part of the machine but other parts of the machine are part of it ?

draw it and see though.. how it's a machine, but see how when you move
a pair it's the same machine but moved... see how it's moved.

so it's like running a machine faster than it takes to run?

Here's my t-mobile blackberry plan (2, Informative)

sprintkayak (582245) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257735)

Different provider, different phone, different priced plan.  But, I figured this will turn into a general discussion of taxes on mobile service.
I have a $30/month voice, $20/month data, and $5/month text plan.  I'm billed in Garden Grove, CA.

Monthly Recurring Charges
    Item     Amount
    FP BB BIS MC from 7/17/08 to 8/16/08     19.99
    FP Nat'l Roaming from 7/17/08 to 8/16/08     -
    FlexPay 300 MC from 7/17/08 to 8/16/08     29.99
    Msg Bundle 400 MC from 7/17/08 to 8/16/08     4.99
    Monthly Recurring Charges     54.97

Taxes, Fees and Surcharges
    Item     Amount
    Government Fees and Taxes
    Federal Universal Service Fund     0.77
    State Sales Tax     3.88
    City Utility Users Tax     3.23
    Local Sales Tax     1.49
    State 911     0.20
    County 911     0.50
    Regulatory Programs Fee*     0.86
    Taxes, Fees and Surcharges     10.93
    Total Charges     65.90

My mileage DOES vary (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257739)

I recently switched to AT&T. In the store, prior to executing the contract, I was provided a printed sheet of paper with my plan, estimated local taxes, fees, and my 15% monthly discount. My bill hasn't varied from that estimate by more than a dollar. Certainly, the OP just isn't talking to the right people or found a bad CSR.

The shit sandwich question (4, Informative)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257743)

I recall reading a comment here, not long ago, stating that dealing with mobile providers in the US was like 'choosing between shit sandwiches'. This, unfortunately, seems to reiterate that this is the case.

Over here in the UK, things are a lot better. If you don't like customer service, you change network. Simple as. I switched from Tesco Mobile (poor customer service on O2's otherwise excellent network) to 3 earlier this year, and the process was quite painless. Am I right in saying that having mobiles on contract is more common in the USA which is what makes dealing with providers such a nightmare?

Re:The shit sandwich question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257843)

Am I right in saying that having mobiles on contract is more common in the USA which is what makes dealing with providers such a nightmare?

You are correct, sir. There are far fewer opportunities to purchase current phones outright, and it always looks like a bad deal to do so anyway because of the subsidized contract price.

Re:The shit sandwich question (1)

greatgreygreengreasy (706454) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257949)

The 48 states and D.C. together have an area of 3,119,884.69 square miles (8,080,464.25 km^2).

Its population density was 94.484 inhabitants/sq mi (36.48/km^2)

United Kingdom 243,820 km^2, with 246ppl/km^2

That's a big difference, and I doubt the UK companies could operate in the US, outside of major metropolitan areas, the way they do business there.

Re:The shit sandwich question (4, Informative)

JerkBoB (7130) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258023)

Am I right in saying that having mobiles on contract is more common in the USA which is what makes dealing with providers such a nightmare?

Yes. On this side of the puddle, phones are heavily subsidized... To the point that some phones are "free" with a 2-year contract.

GSM is relatively new here (as in, it's not what we started with, unlike many other parts of the world), as well, and this makes things more complicated. If I have a Verizon Wireless (which, until the merger of AT&T and Cingular was the largest carrier) phone, I can't take it to any other provider, because VZW uses CDMA. T-Mobile and AT&T are GSM, but GSM coverage isn't nearly as widespread here. Once you're out in the sticks, if you've got a GSM phone, you're lucky to get service.

We're in the stone-age here.

Re:The shit sandwich question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258201)

It's not rare in the UK either. Take a very good look at those mobile contracts.

iPhone PwnageTool 2.0 is out!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257809)

PwnageTool 2.0 [iphone-hacks.com] for the iPhone has been released!!!

just ask (5, Informative)

Nivla (515687) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257815)

I work for AT&T. Maybe you are just asking the wrong questions. Every time I activate a new customer I give them a print out of exactly how their first months bill and normal monthly bills will break down. This print out is avalible through any AT&T vendor and is called a CSS (Customer Service Summary) This print out breaks down everything on you bill including rate plan, data, messaging, extra services ( insurance, roadside assistants ...) taxes and fees broken down by which entity is charging which fees and taxes. Any good sales person will present you with this at the time of the sale. If you not getting one maybe you should consider going to a different AT&T store. Just like everyone else that franchises their business you are going to have good agents and bad agents.

Re:just ask (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257881)

It sounds like what he wants is to know *before* he signs up for a plan, not after activation.

Re:just ask (1)

vk2 (753291) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258067)

As someone already stated in one of the above threads, the retail POS system, the order management system and the billing systems are totally independent. Unless the retail POS connects all the dots (your order from OMS and the billing details once the phone is activated) it will not be able to figure out the exact cost including the tax and additional charges.

Re:just ask (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258001)

It's easy to find out how much you're being charged after you sign up for a plan.

He wants to know how much he'll be charge BEFORE he signs up for the plan. This is a lot different.

Re:just ask (1)

NoobixCube (1133473) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258139)

I'm not sure how much of this story is absolute fact and how much is embellished, or even if it's a legitimate story or just an attack on a popular target for some cheap views; no offense to the poster, it's more my (healty/unhealthy?) skepticism of anything I read on the internet. When I was working in retail (I won't say where, since I may have signed something forbidding that...) I was instructed to stonewall a little on things like when something was coming to the store, what the upcoming sales were, or how long we'd be stocking something (even if the answer was definite to the date it would be pulled from the shelf), among others. Some of this story sounds like a standard stuffed-shirt, painted-smile retail facade (that, I know quite well), while some of it sounds like being evasive for the sake of evasion.

Re:just ask (1)

nategoose (1004564) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258221)

Based on my past experiences dealing with large corporations you should expect to be fired soon, as you seem to be competent and helpful to customers. I don't know if it's because customers will start asking for you by name or some other crazy something, but that seems to be how large companies work.

And these are the simpler, 4th-edition rules! (5, Funny)

oboreruhito (925965) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257851)

Probably because it's too complicated to figure just off the top of their heads, or because they haven't determined your alignment and class.

According to the 4th ed. FC&C Salesmaster's Manual, the taxes on a $40 calling plan is 2d10+2 percent for all classes and alignments of customer.

However, the rules get tricky when adding the data and text plans. If you add those and the customer is any Lawful alignment, or your class is Apple Cultist, the monthly fees and taxes are a d20+30 per month.

If you're Neutral, sales should charge 2d10+2 percent of the total purchase in fees, plus a flat setup fee of 3d20, and whatever the local tax rate is (see Table 13-4.7, "Telecommunication Tax Rates of Municipalities, Provinces, Kingdoms, Shires and Deities").

If your alignment is Chaotic, or you have the Late Bills or Frequent Support Caller flaws, or your class is Go Phoner, your fees are (3d20)d20+(d20)d6, plus (2d20)d20 percent taxes, plus 2d6 in franchise fees, plus 3d20+d6 setup.

If you're identified as Chaotic Hard-to-Please alignment, the Salesmaster may simply escalate fees and taxes and make up complex usage rules (2Gb bandwidth cap except on Fridays and the alternating days of the third week of every fourth month, when it's 256k, for example) until the customer gives up.

However, if sales can't determine your alignment or class - if you're a new customer, for example, or your billing and prior plan history isn't available -Âthey will probably refuse to answer your questions. If a customer immediately submits, they get Apple Cultist treatment. If a customer questions the refusal but eventually submits, they get Chaotic treatment.

If a customer is an insistent questioner, the Salesmaster considers the player in combat and gives the player d6-2 rounds to flee before calling security (see U.S. Government's "Monster and Enforcement Officer Bestiary," table 2.1-1, "Rented Muscle").

Here's The Taxes On My Oregon iPhone 3G Bill (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257877)

This isn't California, but it's kind of close(I hope). This is for a month($70) + 3 days prorated($7) + activation fee ($36). I have no idea if the taxes are taken against the activation fee too, or just the service plans.

Regulatory Cost Recovery Charge      0.34
Relay Service Device Fund Surcharge  0.05
Federal Universal Service Charge     3.46
STATE 911 FEE                        0.75

The 911 fee appears to be fixed, the recovery charge and universal service fee are proportional taxes, I do not know about the relay surcharge. In any case, it looks like taxes come to about 6%. Keep in mind that we don't have a sales tax in Oregon, so you would need to add that too.

We need two things. (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257879)

We need two things here, which would be very nice.

1) A website that shows the calculations for cell phone taxes, state by state and carrier by carrier. Scans of bills (names redacted, of course) could supply the info efficiently, as can just calling the damn company if they are competant.

2) Viewing our current bill like we can view banks. I'm sure as soon as I make a text, the charge is added to my next bill. So why can't I see that bill online?

Hows about not using ATT? (1)

Drakin020 (980931) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257893)

You shouldn't be forced to buy a product from any 1 provider.

Take your money elsewhere to someone who can properly answer your questions.

It's these kinds of things that need to be avoided. "I'm not a satisfied customer, but I'm going to have to buy the product either way."

Even Worse (3, Insightful)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257941)

Even worse is that most of these contracts stipulate that you're going to pay them for the next two to three years, but don't lock in the price. You can get a $100/mo cell phone or satellite TV plan today and three months from now they could double the price and you'd be obligated to either pay it or pay an early termination fee.

Sorry (1)

Javit (68742) | more than 6 years ago | (#24257945)

No idea how to calculate the taxes. It's no big mystery what's going on here though, right? The carrier wants to be able to arbitrarily increase your monthly payment at their discretion. Don't buy in to the excuses, the situation is completely unreasonable and these disreputable businesses need to be called to account for it. The proper response to a sales rep's refusal to disclose the actual cost of a service is a loud, slightly peevish, "well maybe I'll take my business to someone who can."

If you just need the basics, get a prepaid phone with T-Mobile or Virgin. These work fine and the business relationship is honest. If you need data however, I don't know what to tell you. You might just need to bend over until the carriers leave us with no option but government regulation.

biz84tch (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257957)

ruleS t0 follow

Chronic problem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24257987)

Back in 1993 a I had the police called on me because I couldn't get an answer to the question about the 'total' cost of a program.

I asked about the total cost of setting up an account with X phone and got an answer, but when we got near the end of the transaction, there was an additional charge and I stopped. I thought the total cost was what you said before. Well, yes, plus this fee. Ok, that's is that the total cost? Yes.
As you might guess, we went through three iterations of this before I accused the clerk of fraud through the advertsing, in-store material and statements about the 'total' cost. None of it was true and none of it was 'total.' ... but don't worry, the consolidation in telecom companies since that time has been great for customers. Things are so much better now.

thailand (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258003)

i got a usb 3g dongle. it's 375 dollars to buy.
then i got a monthly fee of 30 us$ for a "all you can eat" plan.

the dongle syncs up to 2Mbits down, 384 kbits up.
(CDMA EV-DO)

and yes, if u don't know what a VPN is, now is the
time to learn.

joker said, that some spectacles with a usb-port and VPN to the home would be quit the samba.

This Is Exactly Why I Have Prepaid (1)

strelitsa (724743) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258013)

Either provide me with a flat rate, "this amount is what your service is going to cost to the penny" number before we make a deal or lose me as a customer. Its your call. I don't particularly need a cell phone that doubles as an MP3 player because I already have an MP3 player that meets all of my needs.

I want wiretapping broken out (3, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258029)

The portion of the "regulatory compliance fee" that's chargeable to CALEA (i.e. wiretapping) should be broken out and listed as such.

Fees, fees, fees (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258039)

Here's a sample from my ~$50 plan (Verizon).

Taxes & Surcharges $8.46

Made up of:
Verizon Wireless Surcharges and Other Charges & Credits $3.93
- Fed Universal Service Charge 1.13
- Regulatory Charge 0.07
- Administrative Charge 0.85
- Muni Telecomm Lic. Surchg 1.88

Taxes, Governmental Surcharges & Fees $4.53
- State 911 Surcharge 0.08
- Emergency Svc (Pcc) Charge 0.07
- State Universal Srvc Charge 0.27
- Local E911 Surcharge 0.61
- State Sales Tax 2.48
- Cnty Sales Tax 0.83
- City Sales Tax 0.19

My favorite fee is indicated. It translates as we charge you an arbitrary fee because we can.

WTF???!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258071)

Kristl Are you serious?? First of all, why can't you look at YOUR OWN phone bill last month and read the taxes yourself instead of asking the rep to do it?? Yes, they can read, but can you?? Now that we established that you can read... how bout doing some basic math? Divide the total taxes and fees by the total monthly bill on the $40 plan to get percentage of taxes and fees. Now, multiple that percentage by 75 and that's your approximate tax and fees for a $75 plan. What's so complicated about that?

Re:WTF???!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#24258119)

What would have been the point of a post saying (55-40)/40 = 37.5% * 75 + 75 = $103.13? Most people here can do simple math. At least by ranting, you can get on the front page of Slashdot.

I have verizon 3G mobile broadband (1)

Rakeris (1114111) | more than 6 years ago | (#24258073)

It's the same as far as I am aware, and my bill has been $60.07 every month for the last two years. Taxes have always been the same.
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