Level3 tries cell-phone style billing scam on customers

Deepak Jain deepak at ai.net
Thu Jul 31 20:05:52 UTC 2008

We all have plenty of billing nightmares. Level 3 has tried this sort of 
thing before. Their "property tax surcharge" or something. We got it 
removed years ago since our MSA didn't support it -- their new ones do, 
whether legal or not.

We were particularly frustrated with a traditional T3 international 
circuit where you expect (and request) full protection, blah, blah only 
to find the foreign leg was not protected. We had ordered it from 
Broadwing before the acquisition and then had to cancel it when we found 
out how L3 was going to engineer it.

Passing on these fees (even if challenged by many) would still end up 
with 40-60% not challenging it. This is a vastly impressive move on 
their side until the class action lawsuit and it'll grow as a percentage 

Reliance Telecom (formerly Yipes and others) has started passing on 
"regulatory fees" without further description. Boo.

This is a market that is about go through another round of BKs and 
consolidation, and to draw a parallel to the rest of the market -- no 
one is too big to fail. All of the sins of the last companies to go 
under are about to come to light again. I think the datacenter builders 
are doing the same sort of thing with the overbuilding and telling Wall 
Street how behind they are on capacity, but time will prove that 
right/wrong too.

To make this operational. The reason techs negotiate bandwidth and 
peering deals is because they are the only ones whose eyes don't glaze 
over when the terminology is thrown around.

Most bean counters are used to mature industries where billion dollar 
companies don't perpetrate this sort of fraud by whimsy (traditional 
companies buy permission with lobbyists first). So they never challenge 
taxes or "fees" because they have good reason to believe that if Verizon 
is charging it, they have the legal authority to do so. Its these 
also-ran companies like L3, Reliance and others that have the 
"infrastructure" to deliver hicap services but they don't have the 
patience or maturity of old school tyrants.

Another way to say this. You should keep complaining about it until one 
of them clues in and asks the PSC in your area to make it legal.


Wayne E. Bouchard wrote:
> Hoping for a company which will put ethics above profit is like
> looking for an honest politician. They're extremely rare.
> On Thu, Jul 31, 2008 at 03:28:47PM -0400, Jamie A Lawrence wrote:
>> On Jul 31, 2008, at 2:45 PM, Gadi Evron wrote:
>>> Isn't malicious, just not very ethical. Having been on the recieving  
>>> end a few times.. you don't always know it is happening.
>> I'm not sure that's a useful distinction. I strongly doubt any vendor  
>> has actual malice towards me (modulo some people I've pissed off at  
>> times in panics). Ethics are what I hope for from partners, try to  
>> demonstrate, and it is proven over time.
>> That said, inventing random fees, hiding them as "taxes" or "federally  
>> mandated something or other", and seeing what sticks to the wall in  
>> order to get that tiny percent profit boost is not going to make any  
>> friends in a network community. It works much better with cell  
>> customers or unaware bean counters, but netops folks are going to see  
>> it. L3 have given me reason to not like them in the past, and this is  
>> just more of the same. The problem is that the big boys seem to be  
>> racing to the bottom, so there isn't anyone better to which to defect.
> ---
> Wayne Bouchard
> web at typo.org
> Network Dude
> http://www.typo.org/~web/

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