Watch Out For Hidden Telecom Fees

Craig Corfield, COO of Multi IT & Telephony Solutions is a trusted expert in reviewing business telecom expenses with an eye for finding inefficiencies, errors, and opportunities for cost savings. Craig and his team have reviewed thousands of bills over the years and know how to spot the endless array of extra taxes and fees. These “gotchas” can typically add 20 – 40% to your contracted service expenses.

As Craig explains, “There is no standard bill format among the Service Providers. But they all contain ICASA and local regulatory taxes and fees that are passed along to the consumer. There are also Telco imposed fees and surcharges that may or may not be passed on to the customer. The latter depends on how your contract is written.” Here are some of the usual suspects you may encounter:

  • Depending on where you live, the service you use and the way you connect, taxes may be imposed by ICASA, local, and municipal governments on your phone service.
  • Emergency 911 Access is a fee imposed to help pay for the technology needed to help local governments pay for emergency services such as fire and rescue.
  • Local telephone companies are allowed to bill customers for a portion of what it costs to provide access to their local networks. These charges are not a government charge or tax. The maximum allowable access charges per telephone line are set by ICASA but local telephone companies are free to charge less, or even nothing at all.
  • Access charges for additional lines at the same residence may be higher than charges for the primary line. These charges may be described on your bill as “Additional Access Charge,” “Customer or Subscriber Line Charge,” “Interconnect Access Charge,” or the like. State public service commissions regulate access charges for intrastate (within a province) calls. However, the fee is regulated and capped by ICASA. It is not a tax or a fee charged by the government. The money received from the subscriber line charge goes directly to local telephone companies.
  • “Universal Service Fee” line item may appear on your telephone bill when your service provider chooses to recover their ICASA contributions from the customer. Companies cannot collect an amount that exceeds the percentage of their own contributions to ICASA.
  • Local Number Portability– For keeping your current local telephone numbers when switching from one service provider to another at the same location. Fees may vary by company; some may not charge any fees. These fees are not taxes.
  • Telecommunications Relay Service– To help pay for relay services that transmit and translate calls for people with hearing or speech disabilities.
  • Special Number– These are typically numbers that are not classified as Geographic or Mobile numbers such as 086 services that may carry different rates per minute.

While the aforementioned are the most common line items on your bill, additional fees, mysterious line items and errors may pop up from time to time. When this happens, Craig is glad to take a closer look and provide greater clarity. Craig and his team can be reached at 011 435 0450 in Johannesburg, 021 879 1950 in Cape Town, 031 331 0735 in Durban or online from

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