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.