NEW Tax line added to bill!

malkuth

    In my current bill, under government taxes and fees, a NEW charge line labeled "Utility Use" with a $2.99 charge just appeared out of nowhere, it was NEVER there before on any previous bill. That NEW TAX charge of $2.99 amounts to 6% of my base bill, SIX (6) PERCENT.

     

    I called T-Mobile about this and spoke to a representative, as expected, she was not able to tell me anything that wasn't already apparently obvious, that being, "it's a tax". Moreover, although the representative was pleasant, the background noise and chatter was, to say the least, annoying and made it difficult to have a conversation.

     

    I looked for the live chat option to contact T-Mobile, which among other reasons, I prefer to use due to the above mentioned background noise, chatter and to have a record of the conversation, but it seems T-Mobile has done away with that contact option.

     

    The "message us" option is useless because when attempting to use it, within the times of availability, it gives an error message saying "Your session has expired. Please close this window and start a new conversation in order to resume."   and the same thing happens with every attempted use.

    2_Message_Us_Window_Error.jpg

    Email is also not an option and most people asking for help here are directed to facebook or twitter. I don't pay my bill to facebook or twitter, I don't see why I need to go through a third party that has nothing to do with our arrangement to get help since the phone support on this issue is useless.

     

    To do away with a direct and personal real time contact option like chat in favor of impersonal, indirect and non real time options like facebook, twitter or this community forum is ridiculous, not everyone cares about facebook/twitter nor wants to share their story with the world. I'm a businessman, I want and care about prompt direct help and answers, not likes, shares, etc. Moreover, why have the competition and your patrons see how upset and unhappy your customers are when you can handle it privately and avoid negative exposure. At least, do the savvy thing and give the customer the choice.

     

    Now back on point. I believe, it's reasonable that if T-Mobile is going to ADD a NEW charge, especially when equal to 6% of the bill, it should give notice before the actual charge is incurred.

     

    I have family that also uses T-Mobile with the same address and they have never had that tax line on any previous bill either.

     

    I understand the charge is supposedly a tax and you're supposedly just passing it on and not pocketing the cash, but for the NEW TAX charge to be programmed into the bills, somebody had to know ahead of time about it and it's reasonable to assume someone would also know WHY, after years, is that NEW TAX line showing up out of the blue now.

     

    I believe, it's reasonable for a customer to want to know why a NEW TAX charge, especially one amounting to 6% of their bill, is just appearing on their bill out of the blue and why is that NEW TAX just showing up now. I also believe, it's reasonable for a customer to expect a more informative answer than "it's a tax". It's quite frustrating being able to access only first line support which provides only limited, basic and obvious information. I don't need help reading the bill.

     

    I have been with T-Mobile for years and the address has been the same since day one, this NEW TAX item has never appeared on any previous bill. I believe you can agree the inquiry is not only reasonable but also warranted. Moreover, these "Utility use" taxes don't just show up out of the blue, according to the L.A. County Treasurer and Tax Collector website they, and by extension T-Mobile, have been supposedly collecting this tax since, at least, 2008. So, how can it be showing up on the bill only now? (Reference: https://ttc.lacounty.gov/OtherTaxes/UUT_FAQs.htm)

     

    I have residences in other counties and cities, my address of record with T-Mobile is basically for T-Mobile's record keeping benefit, not mine, since I don't even get a paper bill. If the address is the cause then I can use one of my other addresses that won't incur that outrageous tax charge, I already pay too much tax as is. My number is not even from the L.A. area, I don't see any reason to pay L.A. taxes when I don't have a phone even using that area code. However, the problem is;

     

    1) I can't get any real help and information from T-Mobile to determine why this NEW TAX is just now showing up out of the blue after YEARS, and

     

    2) If using another address would stop the outrageous new tax being added now to my bill.

     

    Any assistance with this matter will be greatly appreciated.

      All replies

      • malkuth

        Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

        I posted this two days ago and it was placed on hold for moderation. I suppose that was reasonable when considering this was my first post and the same contained both a photo attachment and an external link.

         

        However, I assume, someone had to read the post to okay it, which means staff is aware of a customer requesting assistance, yet two days later and over one hundred views and not even an official acknowledgment or offer to help. Impressive.

         

        It seems, unless a customer has a facebook or twitter account, they get no online help from T-Mobile, even at the company's own community website. Again, Impressive.

         

        It seems tax questions, no matter how reasonable or warranted, are in the taboo and that which shall not be answered categories. I seriously doubt, nor have any reason to believe, that facebook/twitter would be any better.

         

        Thank you for your time, you may now continue ignoring a customer...

          • dragon1562

            Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

            I know you mentioned your hatred of Facebook/Twitter but you can private message T-mobile on there and some one will help you with this. Also if the tax has made a significant enough difference you could look into their new one plans which include the taxes and fees into the price so you don't have to worry about it. When it comes to taxes, T-mobile is not the one that decides what they are. Its kinda like how in PA where I live there is a tax on every single online purchase with the exemption of religious materials like the bible. Websites like Amazon look at the account holders billing address to determine if the tax should be applied. So I assume it is a similar situation here. Again call in and see if you can get it removed but it may be one of those things that just happens based off the location in which you reside. You could also message like I said to T-force which I know you said you disliked but I recommend as it goes well for many including myself.

              • malkuth

                Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                Hi dragon1562,

                 

                Thanks for your reply.

                 

                To be clear, I never said I hated fb/twitter, I said that in my opinion having dropped real time direct live chat in favor of having to have an fb/twitter account to contact T-Mobile online for support and thereby having to go through a third party site for the said support was ridiculous.

                 

                Obviously your particular case was one they could do something about and it's good to hear fb and T-force worked out for you and they were able to help you.

                 

                I have had other matters in the past which support was able to help me with. However, this particular topic always gets the same response. Moreover, after having read through the T-Mobile fb/twitter pages, it's highly unlikely that contact via the same would make any positive difference whatsoever in this particular case. The exchanges I read were all the same type of typical scripted support as you would get on the phone and here at the forum.

                 

                Thanks for your input though, it's appreciated. Take care.

            • tmo_lauren

              Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

              Hey there!

               

              Sorry about the initial catch in the filter, depending on what gets caught and why, we won't always see it since the filtering is automatic. Sorry for any confusion or delay in response. We are a primarily user generated answer forum powered by other customers like yourself, so staff responses aren't as immediate as they would be in care, but we do certainly try and appear on posts that need us.

               

              After reading about the tax, I am going to assume you are likely a California resident as that seems to be the primary market for it. This document here Fees & taxes gives a break down of taxes and fee info. Utility User Tax is how it should appear on the bill. I went ahead and looked at some other resources and found this http://www.californiacityfinance.com/UUTfacts17.pdf The verbiage states that the tax *may* be imposed by a city, doesn't indicate it's a mandated or automatic charge. It sounds like your address may now fall into an area that has chosen to take that option. Unfortunately we as the carrier don't have any control or really any additional info beyond the standard definition of the tax and what we can Google search because the jurisdictions simply don't give us that information. They advise us what to tax and we just go from there, we can see taxes differ from block to block (lookin' at you Chicago) so most questions need to be forwarded locally as the info isn't passed to us. I know that's not the best answer, but if there was more info available I'd certainly pass it along.

               

              Your question is definitely warranted and valid, and I hope the info I was able to provide helps some at least.

               

              If there is anything else we can do, please let us know. I will e out during the weekend, but if you ask any further questions on here I'll be back on Monday to assist.

               

              -Lauren

                • malkuth

                  Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                  Hi tmo_lauren,

                   

                  Thanks for your reply.

                   

                  I noticed your reply has been marked as the "correct answer". Should that not be something the OP of the post gets to decide?

                   

                  I did eventually get a "reply" to my questions but I have not actually received any real answers, much less correct answers. There was nothing in the reply that said anything I did not already know and/or said in my post.

                   

                  I understand it looks good to mark as many posts as possible as "correct answer" but that's just simply not true in this case. You even admit as much when you said "I know that's not the best answer" in your reply.

                   

                  You wrote "Unfortunately we as the carrier don't have any control or really any additional info beyond the standard definition of the tax and what we can Google search because the jurisdictions simply don't give us that information. They advise us what to tax and we just go from there". That's precisely it, ALL I'm trying to find out and/or CONFIRM is WHO is "THEY", obviously THEY told T-mobile to charge, all I'm trying to confirm is simply WHO "THEY" are, should be a simple task, but it seems impossible to achieve.

                   

                  As I said in my original post the tax in question has been on the books since, at least, 2008. Do you really believe that any city, county, state or federal government would choose not to collect a tax like this for ten (10) years? do you know of any? I don't.

                   

                  I think, your intentions are overall good and you're trying to help and are limited by the policies and lack of information imposed on you by T-Mobile. However, when your reply contains a statement like "I am going to assume you are likely a California resident", I can't help but wonder if you even read my post and understood it and the situation. I mention "L.A." three times in my post and even included a link to the L.A. County Treasurer and Tax Collector website, I believe you don't need to "assume I'm a California resident", I said so several times, not to mention, I assume you have access to my account. I say this not to be mean or condescending, but so you can understand where I'm coming from and why it's so frustrating dealing with support for what should be basic help.

                   

                  The level of support and answers on this topic would be the same regardless of whether it's through phone, fb, twitter, google or this forum.

                   

                  Frankly, by the time I made my original post, I had already pretty much realized I would not be getting any real information or help from T-Mobile on this topic. The only thing to do is for me, my family and friends to look into either dropping T-Mobile, changing to a tax included plan, etc.

                   

                  Thank you for your time and trying to help, take care.

                    • tmo_lauren

                      Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                      Hey malkuth! Answers are typically marked as Correct if the user doesn't come back within a few days in the event someone else has a similar question. That said, I went ahead and unmarked myself in case you have additional questions, and OP also has the ability to unmark a question as correct at any time!

                       

                      For your additional questions, "they" is going to be whomever is over your local jurisdictions taxes, so your city/county/state tax officials.

                       

                      It appears there are cities in California who continue not to collect this tax, so there are certainly local municipalities that pass on collecting this fee even now. So it would appear there are governments that choose not to. I can't speak for telecom tax, but I know the city I am in has the option to charge us for trash pickup and make a profit but opts not to and instead everyone explores their own trash options. It's a point of controversy within the county because the city over from us (same county) does charge and reports how much money they profit from doing so beyond the cost of the service. I normally wouldn't bring up a silly situation, but I am just speaking to my own city not capitalizing on a tax they can charge us per county laws. And as I mentioned, it appears areas in California don't charge this, so in the state there are municipalities who choose not to capitalize on the tax.

                       

                      Because we are primarily a user generated forum and don't have a secure info collection process since this is a public website, I don't have access to your account or a way to confirm your location/phone number. I will totally own not clicking the link or immediately connecting the L.A. County reference (I'm near Nashville, TN so a quick read of LA is always gonna be Louisiana to me as silly as that sounds) which I certainly should have, my apologies. We do operate a little differently than FB or Twitter because they do have an option to securely collect info and are not a user generated answer forum, but holistically I understand your point and how that's not immediately discernible to a customer. You can learn more about what we are on the homepage, or linked here T-Mobile Support Community Beginner's Guide We are Community Managers over here and don't have the same access as a care rep, we mostly pop in as needed and curate documents and content for the site. Again, I totally realize that doesn't mean a ton to you, nor should it have to, just not trying to scare you off from other channels having other resources to assist.

                       

                      patrick258 I noticed your post had been a discussion not a question, which means the Community Managers won't typically see it. I went ahead and marked it as a question so it would be addressed.

                       

                      Just to finish up malkuth your best options at this point would be to contact your local tax officials, I unfortunately don't have a resource that provides a number or contact for you, but that would be my best options.

                       

                      I know this isn't probably the answer you were looking for, but if you do end up finding an answer we would love for you to come back and post so anyone else with a similar question knows the outcome!

                       

                      -Lauren

                        • malkuth

                          Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                          Hi tmo_lauren,

                           

                          Thanks for your reply.

                           

                          I see, well since you replied on Fri 03/16 and said you would be away for the weekend and back on Monday, I didn't see a need for urgency, so I replied on Mon 03/19. Frankly, I didn't bother to unmark it since it didn't really matter much to me either way, I was more interested to know why it was marked.

                           

                          We seem to have a miscommunication on the "they" part. I keep getting the same obvious reply, that being, it's my city/county. I fully understand that the said tax is supposedly imposed by the city/county. I have always known that. What I'm trying to convey is that my city/county in question has been charging that tax since 2008, there is no maybe about it they absolutely have. The question is and has always been why then did it start showing up on my t-mobile bill now.

                           

                          When I asked the city/county that question, their answer as expected was the most obvious, that I need to ask t-mobile because they have been collecting the said tax since they were legally allowed to. So, as you can see, this is a classic catch-22 scenario, where the customer and tax payer is held hostage.

                           

                          It would certainly be helpful if t-mobile would actually name the tax agency on the bill that's doing the charging, just like they name the state. That would go a long way toward transparency, clarity and removing doubts. However, that of course would probably makes too much sense and be way too efficient.

                           

                          We also seem to have a miscommunication regarding my question to you on the said tax and if you believed that any city/county would not collect this type of tax. It is correct that not every city/county collects this type of tax, the reason being California law requires that this type of tax can only be collected after a proposition is voted upon and passed by the voters, thereby some cities/counties have it and some do not. That's also why my interest in trying to confirm via t-mobile if an alternate address would have that type of tax or not, which of course is a question t-mobile is also not able to answer.

                           

                          However, there is not one city/county, feel free to check for yourself, that has enacted this type of tax and is not collecting on it, since that would defeat the obvious purpose of having the tax in the first place. The city/county my account has been linked to for years has had this tax on their books since 2008 and they do most certainly collect on it. Therefore, it should not be just showing up now. I honestly don't know how to try and get this point across anymore clearly than I have already.

                           

                          Anyway, thanks for trying to help, it's appreciated. Take care.

                            • tmo_lauren

                              Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                              malkuth Definitely didn't mean to imply there was urgency. Because we often see users not always return to threads, if something has been given a response other staff deem correct (we rarely mark our own correct) it can be marked as such. Definitely not the most perfect system for situations like this, but as I mentioned, pretty easy to un-mark should the need present itself.

                               

                              Researching more through the tax policy, there is a Tax Information Request form we can file and is reviewed within 3 business days. I hesitate to say this situation falls exactly within the guidelines of what it suggests using the form for, but outside of directing you locally, it's the only other option I can find.

                               

                              I'm not able to file it for you because we don't have account access, and I can't guarantee it will yield favorable results since it's not exactly within the forms scope, but it's at least a direction. You can contact a customer service representative through your preferred method and say you were advised to have a Tax Information Request form filled out. Even if it's something the rep isn't familiar with, that verbiage should yield a link for them to get to the form.

                               

                              I can't speak for your city or what they tax, I know the verbiage I posted was ambiguous to say "may" not required. From how I have been reading within our policy, we have to have this particular tax singled out and labeled separately, so if your local municipality has indeed been collecting it since 2008 it should have been individually labeled and billed your entire T-Mobile tenure. Your local tax jurisdiction failed to properly notify us and you've been lucky to avoid paying during your time with us.

                               

                              Anyway! I suggest trying the form and see where it goes!

                                • malkuth

                                  Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                                  Hi tmo_lauren,

                                   

                                  Thank you for the information, effort and time, it's appreciated. I will take your suggested option under consideration. That TIRF filing sounds like one of the ways one can indirectly reach out to the t-mobile tax office people. I coincidentally made reference to patrick258 about that department a few days ago on this thread.

                                   

                                  It's always good to have options, but in this particular case I will probably take the path of least resistance and fastest positive result, which after doing some research, seems to be switching over to a tax inclusive plan. Doing so should have me paying the same rate or less before this new tax showed up.

                                   

                                  Interesting theory about the local tax jurisdiction failing to properly notify t-mobile on something that would make them tons of cash. Anything is possible and government is notorious for inefficiency, but good luck having them admit to that!

                                   

                                  Anyway, guess that's it, thanks again for trying to help. You take care of yourself and have a great day.

                                    • tmo_lauren

                                      Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                                      Absolutely! Glad I was able to find something that hopefully leads to an answer if you choose to pursue.

                                       

                                      That said, tax inclusive plans are also a good option, and it's nice to avoid worrying about taxes entirely.

                                       

                                      If you do end up deciding to research, definitely let me know. I am sort of curious on the theory I posed myself. Aaaaand you are you sadly quite right about anything being possible in government. They definitely aren't known for their efficiency.

                                       

                                      And absolutely!

                                       

                                      If there's anything else in future you need assistance with, please keep us in mind!

                                       

                                      -Lauren

                          • patrick258

                            Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                            Hello ,look at a tread I posted from a month ago,not the same area but I had this problem happen to me.

                              • malkuth

                                Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                                Hi patrick258,

                                 

                                Thanks for your reply.

                                 

                                I came across your post when I searched the boards and Google prior to starting my thread. I had read the howardforums thread you mention in your post, as well. Like you, I also wanted to post my experience here in case it could help someone else.

                                 

                                Your post caught my attention because although not exactly the same, it was obviously a very similar situation. The main difference, aside from location, is your charge appeared under "T-Mobile fees and charges" and mine appears under "Government taxes and fees". They seem to have perfected the technique now.

                                 

                                When you contact T-Mobile and they see the charge is under "Government taxes and fees" that's basically it, no matter what you say or who you speak with, you won't be able to get past the scripted replies of "it's a tax", "we just pass it on", "we don't know anything" and "we can't do anything", etc, etc, etc. Rinse and repeat. It's frustrating and essentially impossible to get past their script no matter how many good and/or common sense arguments you make.

                                 

                                T-Mobile has, like all the other carriers, a tax department which is the one that handles all this stuff, that department has the people that know all the who, what, where, when, and how. If you're lucky you get to communicate with them via a CSR over a few days where the CSR forwards your question(s) to them and you get to call back at a later date to hopefully have the CSR read to you their reply. You do not get direct access to that department/people.

                                 

                                I was in the law business for many years, you can get their attention, in among other ways, by filing a complaint with the A.G. or filing a suit, but thanks to SCOTUS and by extension the arbitration clause found in pretty much every agreement now, that option is somewhat limited and tricky to get around, and let's face it, it's not really worth the time and money over the amount. I have spent way over $2.99 on this already. T-Mobile also knows this and counts on it. It's really only worth it to me on principle.

                                 

                                Unfortunately, since they posted the charge as a tax, the chances of getting any positive resolution from T-Mobile through regular channels on this is next to zero, the best and/or fastest solution for me, my family and friends will be to drop T-Mobile, switch to one of their tax inclusive plans or change address, etc. The changing address option is hit or miss because you can't get any information out of them on taxing to know if a similar tax would apply at a different address.

                                 

                                Anyway, thanks for your input, it's appreciated. Take care.

                                  • patrick258

                                    Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                                    Hello Malkuth;

                                          I feel for you ,in my initial talk with the phone representative she gave me the phone number (fax)  to Baltimore City tax department .I had a hard time explaining that one that wasn’t there I lived and two it was listed under T-Mobile charges.Only when I used the live chat did I get any help.The representive was helpful there and I did get a refetence number and what was stated was true ,that it wouldn’t be until next bill to see if it was fixed.I have had prior experience with Twitter chat and it did solve the problem but the chat function works much better.My Post was made for help if anybody had a smilar issue ,i agree that taxes on cell phones are very hard to understand and work though. 

                                      • malkuth

                                        Re: NEW Tax line added to bill!

                                        Hi patrick258,

                                         

                                        Heh, thanks for the sentiment and likewise.

                                         

                                        If I understood your situation correctly, if you were going to get charged, you actually got lucky that the charge showed up under "T-Mobile fees and charges" because that section is obviously t-mobile generated charges and therefore less deflection is possible.

                                         

                                        Them charges are of course allowed (courtesy of our elected politicians) to be passed on to their customers. Technically, you may refuse to pay the said pass through charges, of course in reality one doesn't have a choice, not if you want to keep using the service.

                                         

                                        The "Government taxes and fees" that's a whole different animal, talk about hitting a brick wall. They will not even indulge the possibility of a mistake being made, no matter how much of a logical or reasonable argument you make.

                                         

                                        All the carriers answer and act the same way on this tax topic, they feel absolutely no responsibility or need to explain anything beyond "it's a tax" and referring you to your local tax agency.

                                         

                                        In reality, that's not actually the extent of their responsibility, if the carriers would ever get hit with a good class action suit on this it would be interesting to watch the outcome, assuming of course, the attorneys and judge(s) are worth their salt.

                                         

                                        Take care, have a good one.