Photo: Flickr via thomasleuthard
In Reuters’ columnist David Cay Johnston’s new book, “The Fine Print: How Big Companies Use ‘Plain English’ to Rob You Blind,” he spells out how consumers have been duped into paying more for the same services over the years.And he really has a bone to pick with telephone companies.
“Over the last 20 years, we’ve paid at least $360 billion in higher rates to the traditional telephone companies, and well north of $100 billion more to the cable companies, who all testified before Congress, made filings with regulatory agencies, bought ads on TV that told us we were going to have this information superhighway and it was going to be everywhere,” he told NPR’s Dave Davies. “Instead, what they built was a system in very limited locations.”
See how he explains the sneaky “FCC” charge on your phone bill:
“One of the items on the phone bill, one that’s more than doubled in real terms in price, is often referred to as ‘FCC line charge.’ Now, that sounds like the Federal Communications Commission is imposing a fee on you — presumably to finance the FCC. In fact, that is the charge paid to connect to the long-distance system: It goes entirely to the phone companies; it doesn’t go to the government. And the FCC has something called ‘a requirement for plain English language,’ so people can understand their phone bills. And here is a perfect example of the misuse of language to confuse people and not have them understand what they’re really paying for.”