AT&T fined $700K for Overcharging


Friday, 09 November 2012 07:00 From “
By Kimberly Mirando

AT&T has agreed to pay $700,000 to the federal government to settle charges it overcharged wireless data customers by automatically switching those on pay-as-you-go data plans to its mandatory monthly wireless data plans. AT&T will also refund affected consumers who were overbilled, which could be as much as $25 to $30 per month, depending on data use.

The Federal Communications Commission said in a press release that it began investigating AT&T over these practices last year after receiving a number of consumer complaints. The problem started in 2009 when AT&T made monthly plans mandatory, but promised existing pay-as-you-go data plan customers they could keep their old plans. According to the FCC investigation, however, some consumers who replaced these phones under warranty or insurance, or who moved to a new residence, were switched to the monthly plans, even though AT&T told them they could keep their old plans.

AT&T spokesman Marty Richter downplayed the FCC consent decree, which will require AT&T to pay $700,000 to the U.S. Department of Treasury and refund individual customers affected by these changes. Richter said less than 0.03 percent of AT&T wireless customers are affected by the consent decree, adding that AT&T had already discovered and corrected the issue by November 2010 and provided refunds to customers who contacted AT&T.

“Based on a review of our refund process, we believe a vast majority of those customers affected by the billing error have already been made whole,” Richter said. “But as part of the decree we’ll be providing a bill-page notice to affected customers, offering refunds, and giving them the option to return to a data pay-per-use plan, or to have a data block applied to their phone.”

Still, the FCC urges AT&T subscribers to check their bills closely and contact the company if they feel they’ve been wrongly overcharged for wireless data.

So far no class action lawsuit has been filed over the AT&T data overcharges.

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