Customers complained, federal regulators wagged their fingers, and at least one employee of AT&T Mobility questioned the company’s “cramming” policy. Yet the practice of allowing third-party companies to add charges, typically $9.99 a month, to customers’ bills for services like horoscopes, flirting tips, text messages, ringtones and more went on for years, according to a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia by the Federal Trade Commission.
Now AT&T has agreed to pay $105 million in a settlement with federal and state law enforcement officials. $80 million will go to the Federal Trade Commission to provide refunds to consumers. The settlement also includes $20 million in penalties and fees paid to 50 states and the District of Columbia, and a $5 million penalty to the Federal Communications Commission.
But the bottom line is that AT&T mobile customers will get refunds. If you’re an AT&T mobile phone user and you think A&T billed you for things you didn’t request, visit www.ftc.gov/att and submit a refund claim. You have until May 15, 2015, to file a claim.
It sounds like a lot of money, but AT&T made a lot of money from the practice. The FTC’s complaint says the company took 35 percent of each charge paid by customers and that added up. In 2012, AT&T Mobility earned $108 million from these charges. In 2013, it earned $161 million.
FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said, “This case underscores the important fact that basic consumer protections – including that consumers should not be billed for charges they did not authorize – are fully applicable in the mobile environment.”
If you want to ask a human being whether you qualify for a refund, you can contact the outside settlement administrator hired to process claims at 1-877-819-9692.
Again, visit www.ftc.gov/att to submit a refund claim.