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AT&T contract still bans class action suits

updated 11:50 am EDT, Mon August 10, 2009

ATT Bans Class Action

Readers have rediscovered that AT&T's contract terms prevent customers from filing class action lawsuits. Carrier spokesman Seth Bloom notes the terms aren't new, but the clauses continue to force any customer with an outstanding dispute over service to enter binding arbitration as an individual, preventing both class action lawsuits as well as group arbitration.

Such conditions have sometimes been used by other companies but have often proven controversial as they're often portrayed by critics as attempts to avoid responsibility for large-scale problems. They also observe that the arbitrators are sometimes known usually to rule in favor of the company rather than the individual. Opposition on this level gained support earlier this year when a court ruled that AT&T's anti-class action clause couldn't be enforced in court as it evaded liability.

The cell provider hasn't said whether such rulings will lead it to change its policies on class action lawsuits.

AT&T has been the subject of multiple lawsuits, some of which have sought class action status, over false iPhone speed claims for its 3G network. Particularly in major urban areas like New York City and San Francisco, the provider's service is often unable to cope with the sheer number of iPhone users at any given time and frequently results in dropped calls, delayed SMS and voicemail, and data that either drops to 2G speeds or else stops working altogether.

The company has said much of the slowdown is attributed to an underused 850MHz wireless spectrum in these cities. Due within the next few months, the upgrade should provide significantly more bandwidth as well as improve the range and indoor penetration of existing cell stations.

By Electronista Staff


  1. joecab

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Apr 2004


    I'll say it first ...

    ... you can do that?!?!

  1. rycardo

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: May 2007



    JOE! Good question, I'll add to it: When was the last time you saw the at

  1. Former Rube

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Jun 2009


    Thanks to the lawyers...

    For all of you who've complained about AT

  1. dmsimmer

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 2005



    It's our government's policies that allow this. I think it's shaky legal ground at best.

    I will say ... You can't support Ron Paul and complain about this.

    We need laws that do not punish the poor and disadvantaged.

  1. testudo

    Forum Regular

    Joined: Aug 2001



    As it states, this is how it has been for years. As is the enforcement of arbitration, which, you'll find out, is in pretty much everything that has a contract tied to it these days. For example, every one of your credit cards says that complaints must go through an arbitration process.

    And if you want to know why this is in there, just blame it on the lawsuit-happy lawyers and people looking for easy ways to make lots of cash.

  1. bauhaus

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Sep 2003



    However, these terms are illegal in some states. Just have to find the right one and have the class action filed from there (however, the contract would have had to been signed there as well.)

  1. Loren

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Mar 2001


    can't sue??

    Why that's illegal!

  1. WiseWeasel

    Junior Member

    Joined: Apr 1999


    State Laws

    Pretty sure this is null and void in California, as well as a few other states with at least some level of consumer protection. They can say what they want in their TOS, but state law supersedes it where applicable. We might not be able to do a national class-action suit against them, however, the residents of states like CA should be able to file a state-wide class-action lawsuit if needed.

  1. debohun

    Fresh-Faced Recruit

    Joined: Feb 1999


    Good question...

    "Can you do that?" If you can, what else can a company make you do as a provision of a contract? Dance a jig? Have s** with a company employee?

    Could a company make you sign away a Constitutional right as a provision of a contract?

    For instance, could a slick financial company keep evictions from undermining its mortgage portfolio by turning residents into indentured laborers? It would keep the neighborhoods populated, property values stable, and also create a new secondary port folio of indenture servants. Wow. Talk about a great business model. People desperate trying to keep their homes and years of equity might certainly be willing to sign away their "liberty" for a period of years in exchange for bringing their mortgages current. (This would certainly add a whole new level of meaning to the term "company town.")

    Already the corporate-state has practically reduced the middle class to a condition of subscription serfdom. It's not such a big leap to imagine the reinstitution of indentured servitude. After all, even though it is banned by the U.N., it is tolerated in many countries unofficially, and even officially in the UAE and (shockingly, to some degree) Canada. So, if the answer to this question, "Can you do that?" is "yes," well then we need to think about the consequences of that.

    A Constitution Amendment that makes illegal any future, and annuls any past, contractual clause that voids or diminishes in any way an individual's constitution rights or equal standing before the law sounds like a very, very good idea at this point.

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