As this site has reported on a number of occasions, T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T and Sprint have all been involved with cramming tactics for years now and have reaped the benefits of such tactics to the tune of millions of dollars per year.
Basically, the wireless carriers would sign up consumers all over the country for a $10 a month service that sent text messages containing a variety of news/tips/horoscopes. The carriers would then try to confuse the charges on a customer’s bill, ignore requests to be removed and dodge any attempts to be contacted.
Today, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) held a joint press conference announcing that AT&T would be fined for their role with cramming practices. Specifically, AT&T will pay $80 million to the FTC, $20 million to all fifty states, and $5 million to the FCC.
In the complaint against AT&T, the FTC alleges that AT&T billed customers for hundreds of millions of dollars in charges originated by other companies. AT&T would then keep at least 35 percent of the charges it imposed on their customers.
In 2011 alone, AT&T received more than 1.3 million calls to its customer service department about the charges. In October of 2011, AT&T changed their refund policy so that customer service reps could only offer to refund two months worth of charges, no matter how long they had been charging the customer for the bogus service.
In fact, according to the complaint, AT&T employees started to get concerned about these practices and complained up the chain to no avail. AT&T continued to deny customers refunds and intentionally told customers to contact the third-parties who could not help them.
Any consumers who believes they were charged by AT&T without their authorization can visit www.ftc.gov/att to submit a refund claim or can call 1-877-819-9692 for more information.