Self-service portals are everywhere, but sometimes, customers, especially less tech-savvy ones, like to do things the old-fashioned way. In the case of paying a phone bill, that might be calling in and having someone handle the payment for you.
Sometimes it can just be easier to talk to a real person, especially if you have a weird or particular issue. Other times perhaps using the phone and going through the automated system is preferred. In the case of AT&T, though, it looks like the company really wants people to stop calling in. So much so, in fact, that the company is going to start charging $5 to anyone who wants to pay over the phone instead of online.
AT&T is sending users a text message warning them of an upcoming change of $5 for phone-based payments. Starting on February 14th, prepaid users will be seeing a $5 convenience fee charge every time they make a payment by calling customer service or using the automated phone system.
The fee apparently already existed for users who needed to talk to a representative to make a payment, at least for postpaid customers. Now that fee will apply to prepaid as well, with the addition of an automated system fee as well.
It seems rather weird to charge a $5 fee for the automated system, since it requires no human interaction at all. Other ways of paying that don’t involve calling in still don’t incur any fees — you can make a payment online, enroll in AutoPay, pay in person at an AT&T store, and mailing in a payment. Those are all fine.
It looks like AT&T is mostly looking to discourage people from making payments over the phone at all. Speaking to a customer service representative does not incur any charges, it’s only when you make a payment that it does.
AT&T isn’t the only company coming up with new fees, as T-Mobile also recently began to charge similar fees in certain scenarios.
If you usually pay through the automated system, you might want to check out other methods of paying unless you want to be out of an extra $5 every time you do.