I strongly believe in supporting businesses that show their appreciation for America’s service members and veterans. Many fine companies have instituted programs to honor active duty military personnel and veterans, from restaurants to retail stores, to service providers. Golden Corral and Applebee’s restaurants nationwide offer free meals to all veterans and active duty military to celebrate Veterans Day. Both Lowes and Home Depot give discounts to vets, as do many major hotel chains and car rental companies, to name just a few.

A while back I reported in my RV blog that Verizon gives veterans a 15% discount on their cell phone bills. AT&T soon jumped on the bandwagon and announced the same discount for veterans.

However, as regular reader George Capelle recently learned, the folks at AT&T apparently think that while our nation’s veterans deserve a discount for their service, they should pay for that discount, to the tune of $36 a month! AT&T calls this a “sponsorship fee.” I call it a slap in the face to every man and woman who ever put on a uniform. No other company I know of charges veterans a fee in conjunction with a discount.

From what I have been reading, AT&T doesn’t hesitate to stick it to active duty personnel serving overseas either. Back in 2006, the  Fractals of Change  and the Prepaid Press blogs reported that AT&T had an exclusive contract to provide phone service for our soldiers serving in Iraq, and was charging inflated rates, up to four times normal costs per minute, to soldiers calling home from the war zone.

The blogs reported that the mega-company was also using its technology to block 800 numbers going to calling cards friends and family members sent to soldiers overseas. Following the blog posts on this issue, the American Legion got involved and put pressure on legislators, demanding an investigation. I spent a couple of hours researching the subject, but have not been able to learn what the current status of that particular rip-off is.

No matter if and how that was resolved, it is a disgusting example of a huge company screwing the little guy, in this case the men and women fighting and dying for us, all in the eternal quest for bigger profits.

The current $36 “sponsorship fee” shows that AT&T is all about the bottom line, and is giving our nation’s veterans and military men and women the old one finger salute in the process. I’d like to take this opportunity to return the gesture. How about you?

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10 Comments on AT&T Salutes Vets With One Finger

  1. Greg W says:

    Well, as Ernestine the phone operator used to say on ‘Laugh-In’, “We’re the phone company, and we don’t care.”

  2. George Stoltz says:

    I would love to see 60 Minutes run with this story.

  3. Jeff says:

    In Desert Storm there were almost no abilities to email, skype or webcam, but AT&T managed to get some big dishes over there for our exclusive use, at an extreme cost to our soldiers. After the hostilities ended, I use to take soldiers in our unit approximately two hours one way, for them to stand in line another hour in order to talk for 3-5 minutes at a time, and then get back in line again. Since life gets complicated sometimes when you are separated, some of these soldiers managed to go daily and spend huge sums of money on our “friend” from AT&T charging them over ten times per minute then if you had a foreign phone and card to use,……..sure wish the I-phone wasn’t exclusive

  4. Wanderin' says:

    You indicated the AT&T “sponsorship fee” was $36 a month. It is not. It is a one-time fee of $36. In less than 2 months we had been reimbursed this amount and are now saving money every month. No matter how they did it, we are happy to receive the discount even if there was an up-front fee we weren’t pleased with.

    Last week we were in one of the Tempe, AZ’s Home Depots. Cashier indicated manager instructed them not to give military discounts any longer. However, we’re not sure if it was just the manager of that store or if there has been a change in policy. We’ll certainly try again when we’re in a different Home Depot … or, we’ll go to Lowe’s.

  5. SAL Bellomo says:

    Hi Good old Bad Nick and you right again It’s all about Money and
    the finger is to good for them ,like the men said it should be on 60 minutes for all to see. “”””GET-ER DONE””””!!!!!!!!

  6. Here is my “one finger salute” Bad Nick! I’ll be writing the B@$*A+@! today!
    Barry Crocker, CMSgt, USAF (Ret)

  7. Jan Chilson says:

    Sears not only gives discounts to vets, but if any of their employees are called up, they retain their families health care coverage for the duration and guarantee the “vet” will have a job there when they return.

    Guess this isn’t for vets necessarily, but certainly does a lot for those who are in the reserves.

    We are happy to support businesses who honor our vets with discounts etc.

    Thanks for this post, Bad Nick

  8. George Capelle says:

    Thanks, Nick, for getting the word out. And also, thank you Wanderin for the clarification. But whether it takes two months, or six months like in my case, to recoup the “sponsorship fee”, it is still an insulting ripoff just intended to add to AT&T’s bottom line while they can pretend that they are also “veteran-friendly”.

  9. carroll says:

    Took my DD-214 to Home Depot on Oct24 at N Mesa near I-10. Female cashier said her store would honor 10% discount to all vets/active duty personnel as long as Lowes does. Okay. Lowes is about 1 mile further in opp. direction.

    Let ‘er rip Bad Nick.

  10. Cal Hall says:

    Hi Nick,
    We think your doing a great job with “Bad Nick” and for the most part agree with you (but not always)and appreciate you saying the things that need to be said. However, I do get the discount from AT&T but I can’t find anywhere on my bill where they are charging me an extra $36.00. When we got our last new phone there was a $35.00 “activation fee” but I also had that on my Verizon bill when I activated that phone. By the way, we get a 15% discount with Verizon.
    Keep up the good work.

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