I have been a loyal customer of T-Mobile's since 2008 when I moved to Texas from Arkansas. I know, long time right? I was referred to them through a friend who said their customer service was awesome and having dealt with Sprint for 10 years, good customer service was a refreshing change. I think their service is pretty good. I have issues with my phone occasionally, but it's good for the most part. It's good enough for me to stay with them.
However, I received a text message from T-Mobile today that said, "Texas Recovery Fee now included on monthly bill. Please visit www.tmobile.com/legal for details." I thought it was for some charity or something, but I couldn't think of a natural disaster in recent days/weeks. So, I went to the website and found a disturbing declaration:
"Starting in February 2011, Texas customers will see a new fee on their bill. Texas law imposes a franchise tax on each company conducting business in Texas, including T-Mobile. We will add a monthly charge labeled "TX Recovery Fee" on your bill to recover the cost of complying with this tax on T-Mobile. This fee is not a government mandated charge..."
What the what?! Are you friggin kidding me?! Now I have to pay your taxes? I already pay about five different taxes, including a state sales tax, for my cell phone service. Why do I have to pay yours too? I'm a corporate paralegal, I know about franchise tax and this stinks like a hog house in July!
Franchise tax is the cost of doing business, like buying pencils or post-its, or having a flushing toilet, or having that lawyer on retainer for those pesky sexual harassment issues. I'm pretty sure the pizza joint down the street isn't charging me extra for my slice because he has to pay franchise tax! (He's not, I checked.)
In some states it's a flat rate, in others it's based on the number of shares a company issues or the worth of its assets held in that state. In Texas, the lowest of these three calculations is used (or you can choose the auto-calc): total revenue minus cost of goods sold; total revenue minus compensation; or total revenue times 70%.
Not cool, T-Mobile. I know times are tough, but I'm a middle-class consumer and everyone craps on us. Unless other cell phone companies are doing the same crappy thing you are, out of principal I may just be shopping around.
Who's with me?! Solidarity!