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New Report Finds Hidden Cable TV Fees Are Costing The Average Customer Over $450/Year

Stephanie Sengwe

Hidden fees have long been a plague for cable TV customers, and now it seems they are getting more and more problematic. According to a new report by Consumer Reports, hidden cable fees are resulting in a 24 percent surcharge on top of the advertised price. This means the average cable TV customer ends up paying over $450 per year in company-imposed fees, and cable companies could be making an estimated $28 billion a year. What’s more disturbing is the fact cable companies are increasing these fees while many customers are locked into what they believe to be “fixed-rate” contracts.

Price hikes are being applied to not only government related fees and taxes, but the fees that individual cable companies created themselves, the study found. These company-imposed fees include, Broadcast TV fees, Regional Sports Fees, Set-Top-Box and Related Rental Fees, Cable Modem and/or Router Fees, HD Technology Fees, Internet Service-Related Fees, Administrative/Convenience Fees and Installation Fees.

Consumer Reports states that in 2015, Comcast Corporation was charging consumers a $1-a-month Regional Sports Fee and $1.50-a-month Broadcast TV Fee, for a total of $2.50 per month, now, those two fees combined add up to $18.25 a month. Charter Communications also increased its Broadcast TV Surcharge three times in the last year, to $13.50 a month, a 50 percent increase of what that fee cost a year ago.

The average amount of company-imposed fees charged by specific providers, for example,
ranged from $22.96 for AT&T U-verse and $31.28 or Charter, to $39.59 for Comcast, $40.16 for Cox, and $43.79 for Verizon Fios, the report found. Consumer Report used the most recent publicly available subscriber numbers published by the FCC to determine the total number of cable user and by multiplying the total subscriber number by the average cost of company-imposed fees, $37.11 per month, found that the cable industry generates $2.3 billion a month—or a little less than $28 billion a year in fees.

Consumer Reports also reached out to several cable companies to find out the reasoning behind the hidden fees. Companies insisted that not only are the fees legal, but they are also transparent. “Charter, for example, noted that, ‘The FCC expressly permits cable video programming providers to separately itemize their programming costs on customer bills,” the report stated. When questioned about their hidden fees, Verizon said its customers have “the ability to review [feerelated] information in writing,” and pointed to the fact that its advertisements disclose the existence of additional taxes and fees. Consumer Reports also stated that Verizon insisted that all prospective customers are able to see a full breakdown of the bundle costs, including taxes and fees.

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