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Georgia adds 75-cent 911 fee for prepaid card purchases

We’ve seen many states adopt laws that charge prepaid users fees for 911 services. It seems fair enough. Prepaid customers use 911 services just like postpaid users, and postpaid users have a 911 fee added to each month’s bill. The problem comes when trying to assess who pays and who does not. Ideally everyone would, but states simply do not have that type of jurisdiction. As with many other states that have implemented 911 fees for prepaid users, Georgia will add a fee at the point of sale, amounting to 75 cents per card purchased. Unfortunately, that doesn’t address the entire issue.

The first, and most prominent, issue here is the internet. The state of Georgia — and all states — cannot charge the 911 fee for purchases made on the internet. So Georgia residents wishing to avoid the 75 cent 911 fee can do so by buying their prepaid minutes on a website, rather than at the store.

The other issue is that the 75-fee is flat, regardless of card denomination. It makes much more sense, then, to buy in larger increments, since it amounts to a lower percentage of the overall purchase. That is, you’re better off buying one $50 card than a $25 card at one point and then another $25 card later. Of course, buying minutes in larger packages increases the chances that they’ll expire, so there’s another drawback.

There doesn’t appear to be any easy way for states to collect 911 fees from prepaid users in the same way they collect from postpaid users. Every state is subject to the above limitations. It could take reform at the federal level in order to collect this fee for online purchases. Understandably, that could take a lot of time and consideration.

3 Responses

  1. Loomer Says

    So being a budget minded senior, with a basic el-cheapo SVC phone, and a $20 refill top up amount every once in a while, I will be paying more than your average smart phone owner?! How does that work? Surely this fee should be percentage based (on the amount you buy). I mean; I’m purposefully trying to save money by buying small, and cheap, and then the state comes along and penalizes me more for it. And how exactly did the authorities arrive at the amount of 75c?

    Posted on July 24th, 2011 at 6:55 am
  2. Pam Strickland Says

    They should only charge WHEN and only IF the phone is used to dial 911.

    Posted on February 2nd, 2012 at 5:21 pm
  3. anna lane Says

    Nickle and dimeing…I think we pay these people to do nothing but sit around and think up ways to the extract every dime from our hard working poor and seniors. Where does all this money go? If it really cost this much to keep 911 going then maybe we can not afford it.I have a land line and am paying 911 charges. Now I will have to pay 911 charges a second time. What did we ever do, how did we ever live before 911?

    Posted on February 20th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

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