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AT&T Mobility and Unwanted Wireless Device Charges

On December 12, 2011, the Florida Attorney General's office announced that it had reached a settlement with AT&T Mobility, "resolving allegations that the company charged Florida customers' wireless device bills for a service that those customers neither ordered nor wanted." The settlement or AVC--short for "Assurance of Voluntary Compliance" (one wonders how truly "voluntary" it is, but I digress)--is the result of unauthorized charges appearing on some AT&T Mobility bills. Specifically, the AG determined that over a 7-year period, more than 600,000 AT&T Mobility customers, whose billing addresses are within the state of Florida, were charged for Roadside Assistance at $2.99 per month without either granting consent for such charges or using the service.

In addition to providing affected customers with a full refund, AT&T will be donating $550,000 worth of prepaid phone cards to members of the military, funds to Florida law enforcement and a whopping $1.2 million to the Florida Attorney General’s office to cover enforcement and attorneys' fees and costs associated with this matter.

More importantly, however, AT&T Mobility has agreed that, going forward, it will provide customers with multiple disclosures concerning charges added to their bills, as well as providing them with an easy way to opt out of such services. The settlement only applies to customers whose billing addresses are in Florida; it’s unclear whether this Roadside Assistance line item appeared in other states, but at this point, the only state that's reached a settlement with AT&T Mobility is Florida.

AT&T Mobility has also agreed that it will "clearly and conspicuously disclose" the cost of not only Roadside Assistance, but other AT&T Mobility "add-on" services. Notification will occur via text message. Customers will also be notified 5 days in advance of the end of the free or trial period.

There are some limitations on those AT&T Mobility customers who can seek credit, including only individuals who became customers either through an AT&T Mobility-owned retail outlet in Florida, or a Florida indirect agent.

Customers who believe that they have a claim against AT&T Mobility should receive a notice by postcard about applying for any refund due. Claims must be submitted in a timely manner, and by March 30, 2012 (i.e., within 90 days of the settlement), a url containing all relevant information will be published and available.

To view the complete AVC, see$file/AT&T+-+Executed+AVC.pdf.