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AT&T settles for $2.6m over deceptive bills

updated 04:30 pm EST, Mon March 3, 2008

ATT Billing Suit Settled

AT&T and Florida's state government today revealed that they had settled a lawsuit over alleged billing fraud for $2.6 million. The agreement brings an early end to a complaint which accused the carrier of misleading customers by promising free ringtones and other downloadable content but masking charges for the download itself. In addition to the fine, the company says it will more closely monitor its own marketing to ensure that any download fees or other costs are clearly marked.

Other wireless providers in Florida will also be investigated to prevent the same practice from continuing with AT&T's rivals, according to Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum. Of the total settlement amount, $2.5 million is being dedicated towards a task force investigating other cases of digital fraud, with the rest being split towards an anti-fraud education program and settlements with affected subscribers.

The end sets a precedent for the cost of downloadable content for cellular providers, many of which charge extra for downloads beyond any up-front fees. Complaints about excess costs on cellular bills have recently surfaced in the US Congress, particularly for early cancelation fees and other charges that are often but controversially labeled as necessary. Critics have accused AT&T and others of exploiting confusion over legally required fees as well as contract lock-in.

By Electronista Staff
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  1. JackWebb

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2007


    Similar problems

    I recently switched from a GPRS tethered phone to an AirCard and i had to switch my phone number in the process. It was tough trying to avoid all the hidden costs and I probably didn't avoid some although the salesman managed to deduct at least a couple things. I also had to fill out something for a $100+ rebate and I'm waiting for that. I got slightly more money put to my goPhone account somehow so I won't complain there. But...

    While testing my AirCard and trying to find a way to figure how much data I actually used, I didn't realize my time and my data limit was prorated for only 6 days of a billing cycle. So just in my testing, I accomplished over $9 of overage! I called and got it removed. I guess I convinced them how ridiculous that was and that I had no idea.

    You gotta be completely on guard and try to figure out those bills. Amazing how what I hoped would be a reduction from $48/mo became a $100+ bill for the month I changed to lower plans! And that's after I paid by credit card in the store for other stuff.

  1. notehead

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Aug 2001



    The wireless carriers all seem to be focused on obfuscating the way you get charged for things, even as service continues to suck. The fine was far too small, but it's a move in the right direction.

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