False and deceptive advertising is an ongoing problem in California and around the country. Many industries use tactics to trick consumers into paying more than advertised. The broadband and cable industries use hidden fees for consumers to pay a higher cost. The banking and airline industries often use these same tactics.
2019 consumer reports
A 2019 Consumer Report found that roughly 24% of cable bills include hidden fees. The extra fees generate billions of dollars for the cable companies, and broadband companies aren’t any better with hidden fees.
Under consumer law, false and deceptive advertising is illegal. Large companies have been using deceptive advertising for years. Sometimes, cable and broadband companies give the fees official names, so people think they’re government fees when the fees are for TV, hardware, surcharges, usage and bundles.
Charging extra fees
False advertising is fraud under consumer law, but cable companies normalized the practice. One of the most common extra fees on cable bills is broadcast TV fees. However, a broadcast TV fee should be part of the cost of programming. Companies list the fees below the line so that advertisements can offer lower prices.
Broadcast and cable companies increase the broadcast TV fees for an increased profit. Competition should hamper this tactic because consumers can go elsewhere, but the situation doesn’t change because many users still prefer traditional cable. Live sports are a draw since they aren’t entirely available on streaming.
Regulators usually check outright false and deceptive advertising but ignore these kinds of shady practices. The FCC revisiting the labels for broadband is a step in the right direction. The FCC wants more transparency, but the investigation doesn’t involve bundle packages.