AT&T will be paying back a lot of customers, new and old, for fees and charges that the federal government deemed “bogus.” The FTC said that the company agreed to a settlement after accusations against the company stated that AT&T had billed customers unlawfully for hundreds of millions of dollars.
Almost 80% of the settlement will go to customers who were wrongfully charged these fees that were deemed bogus by the FTC. The details of what the charges were focused in the area of third-party companies, which charged customers for things they never agreed to, like horoscope text messages.
The investigation that the FTC lead found that AT&T kept an estimated 35% of the fees that were charged to customers unlawfully, and the number of complaints the company received in one year alone was enough to tip the scales in the favor of those fighting the fees and charges.
1.3 million calls were made to AT&T just to complain about the host of charges that many saw on their phone bills – which often totaled around $10 a month on the bill. “This should have an, in fact, did ring alarm bells at AT&T,” but the company didn’t act. The money kept flowing in, and “AT&T continued to make hundreds of millions of dollars from the practice.”
AT&T ceased third-party billing last year, and claims that all bogus billing has ended entirely. However, many remain skeptical as fees and charges have been commonplace in the cell phone industry.
The act of “cramming,” as it’s called within the industry oftentimes means customers being selected, at random, or by intention for services that they did not specifically sign up for – as was the case here. However, AT&T’s policy is very specific in noting that anyone who is an AT&T customer, must give consent for any third-party charge, fee, or service.
For those who believe they were impacted by the practice, the settlement dates all the way back to bills from 2009, and customers will be able to submit names, phone numbers, and account numbers to see if they were a part of the bogus fee scam.
Many don’t realize though that as a customer of AT&T, and for the most part – any wireless carrier – the option to block all third-party billing is possible by either calling, or making the changes to your account online.