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KCAL On Your Side: Sneaky internet charges on your bill

KCAL On Your Side: Sneaky internet charges on your bill
KCAL On Your Side: Sneaky internet charges on your bill 03:38

Do you think you're paying too much for internet? So does Consumer Reports.

Researchers pored over more than 20,000 cable bills from consumers across the U.S. and found that many providers play tricks to keep your bill high. Consumer advocates are calling for reform.

Internet access is no longer a luxury, or a privilege. We can't live without it.

But many people can't keep up with the cost of internet service. Consumer Reports looked at internet bills from all different providers across the country and found the average price for home internet is now about $75 per month.

"And that's expensive," said Consumer Reports Senior Policy Counsel Jonathan Schwantes.  "That's a lot to pay for internet service, and why? Because pretty much there is no one telling internet service providers what they can and cannot charge you."

Schwantes says after studying more than 22,000 bills submitted by consumers from all 50 states to its "Fight for Fair Internet" project, Consumer Reports found that many providers keep bills high with so-called "junk fees."

"And they have very sneaky names like the 'Internet Infrastructure Surcharge' or the 'Technology Service Fee,' and you kind of think 'That sounds kind of legitimate, maybe that's a government fee.' It's not," said Schwantes.

Schwantes says the fees are legal, but he believes they aren't ethical, and are used to pad profits.

The study also found rates vary by market and are especially high when there aren't a lot of choices for providers.

Prices can be arbitrary. In many instances, providers charge different prices for the exact same plan.

Many of the bills collected included add-on fees for data overages and equipment fees.

So what can you do to lower your bill?

  • Call up and just ask for a discount.
  • Threaten to cancel.
  • Shop around for a cheaper rate.
  • Buy your equipment online, like a modem, so you don't have to rent it from the internet provider.

The Federal Trade Commission is currently looking into "junk fees." It defines those as unnecessary or surprise charges that inflate costs while adding little to no value. 

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