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STUDY: 24% of Your Cable TV Bill Is Just Bogus Fees

A new study by Consumer Reports finds that at least 25 percent of your monthly cable TV bill is made of sneaky fees, many of which have no actual purpose outside of making your cable provider richer.

The consumer group’s study took a closer look at 787 consumer cable bills from 13 top cable providers and found that while the average user paid about $156.71 a month for cable TV, users in reality paid $217.42 a month once fees were added. In other words, about 24 percent of your cable TV bill each month ($37.11) is made up of fees and hidden surcharges.

According to Consumer Reports, the majority of consumer complaints are about Comcast’s Xfinity TV services. The study found that in 2015, Comcast started charging consumers a $1-a-month Regional Sports Fee and $1.50-a-month broadcast TV fee ($2.50 per month). By 2019 those fees had ballooned to $18.50 a month, or a 600 percent increase in just four years.

Based on the number of cable TV customers in the States, Consumer Reports estimates that the cable industry nets an estimated $28 billion a year in such surcharges. And the problem isn’t restricted to just your cable TV bill; misleading fees (like CenturyLink’s “Internet Cost Recovery Fee”) plague the broadband industry as well.

Often these fees are misleadingly portrayed by cable providers as government-mandated surcharges so that consumers blame the government instead of cable providers. One such fee is the “regulatory recovery fee,” specifically named for just this purpose.

Consumer Reports researchers say they posed as consumers and called 74 customer service representatives (CSR), who routinely tried to blame government for excessive surcharges.

One path consumers can take is to vote with their wallets and ditch traditional cable TV.

“The only way to really eliminate most of the fees is to cut the cable TV cord entirely and use streaming services or an antenna instead,” Consumer Reports said.

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