Phone Rates Going Up Next Week

Your phone bill will increase anywhere from $1.39 to $2.25 a month starting next week. It has almost taken two years to implement increases since being approved in December 2003 and challenged in court.

Consumer groups are seizing on Halloween theme to call the hike monstrous.

You phone bill is about to go up. The Public Service Commission approved the hike in 2003, but it’s been tied up in court until recently. The first of several yearly hikes will show up on your November bill.

Walter Dartland of Common Cause gives it a Halloween theme.

“The nightmare on Phone Street.”

Bentley Lipscomb of AARP told reporters, “Keep in mind that a substantial part of these increases are no different, in our opinion, than tax increases. “

Utilities doled out $2.7 million in campaign contributions to get the hike through the Florida Legislature. The law allows 20 percent annual hikes every year after the initial increases, so in a bit of wishful thinking, consumer advocates like Lillian Johnson are calling on consumers to revolt.

“We need to become the nightmare next November for policymakers who have allowed the process to be co-opted by special interests.”

The hikes were allowed on the theory they would spur competition. But VOIP Voice over Internet Protocol companies have been signing up customers at record rates, but the service isn’t available in every area code.

Gov. Jeb Bush, who signed the law into effect, says he has no regrets.

“It’s working. It has created more investment, uh, in technologies.”

The monthly hikes do not apply to business service, just residential customers.

Consumer advocates say the law that made these rate increases possible also strips the Public Service Commission of its authority to regulate the quality of service. That means you’ll have even fewer rights when there’s a dispute with the phone company.

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