Nickle and Dime Time

Verizon gets you for long distance you don’t use:
Now some phone companies are adding a new line item to monthly bills: a charge for not making long-distance calls.

The category of customers affected by the new fee is the shrinking subset of people who have no-frills home-phone service and don’t pay for a long-distance-calling plan.

Verizon last month introduced the $2 fee. It is charged to customers who could dial out for long distance, but don’t subscribe to a long-distance service and don’t make long-distance calls.

Phone companies levy new fee for not making calls, John Murawski, Raleigh News & Observer, Thursday, May 3, 2007

And AT&T gets you for local calls you do use:
AT&T is charging users of its prepaid calling cards up to eight minutes per minute spent making an in-state call. The practice began in February and affects in-state calls made from every state except Illinois, Indiana, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

AT&T claims it is required by the FCC to pay the in-state connection fees set by each state. That would be nice, except according to an FCC spokesman, “Calling card rates aren’t regulated. Period.”

AT&T Charges Up To Eight Minutes For A One-Minute Phone Call, Carey Greenberg-Berger, The Consumerist, 6 May 2007

And it’s not the states requiring this, either:
The Executive Director of the Missouri Public Service Commission echoed the FCC’s comment, saying: “The PSC does not regulate the prepaid (calling) cards.” Missouri has not regulated telecom rates “for several years,” and the PSC does not audit AT&T, since the telecom no longer needs state approval to raise rates.
I can see it now: “you’re not using our telco-sponsored Internet search engine, so we have to charge you $2/month for not using it.”

Or I suppose telco behavior in their rush to monetize a non-net-neutral Internet might be completely different than their behavior in a deregulated POTS environment.