WASHINGTON — American Telephone & Telegraph has quietly raised the price of buying a hitherto rented residential dial phone by 40% to $27.95.
Although customers have bought telephones for a number of years, an estimated 40 million household phones are still rented from AT&T, which acquired ownership from its former operating companies when they were spun off into seven regional phone companies.
Rental rates for business phones were increased last month, and rental rates for residential phones are to be increased later this month, an AT&T spokesman said.
The Consumer Federation of America complained that failure to reveal the purchase price increase in advance of the March 1 effective date was unfair to consumers, but AT&T said it is entitled to raise and lower prices "like any other company . . . without fanfare."
The new prices for buying an AT&T phone now being rented: traditional rotary dial, $27.95, up $8; traditional Touch-Tone, $44.95, up $3; Trimline and Princess dial, $47.95, up $8 and $3, respectively; Trimline Touch-Tone, $54.95, unchanged, and Princess Touch-Tone, $54.95, up $5.