Deadline Today for AT&T “Cramming” Refunds

by Matt Klassen on May 1, 2015

Despite the fact the Federal Trade Commission has ordered AT&T to pay a $105 million penalty, $80 million of which will be returned to customers, as part of a settlement over fraudulent “premium service” charges—that is, those sneaky, unwanted fees from pointless subscriptions to third-party services like ringtones and text messages that contained horoscopes, love tips and so-called fun facts.—AT&T isn’t making it easy for affected customers to recoup their losses, so if you are due a refund, you have until the end of the day today to apply for it.

Such sneaky charges, known in the wireless industry as “cramming,” happens when mobile carriers allow third-party businesses to charge their wireless customers for services without the knowledge or consent of said customers. The charges from such dubious services never clearly appear on one’s wireless bill, as they’re simply included under regular service charges.

While the practice is clearly unethical and illegal, wireless carriers have long embraced “cramming” as part of their revenue strategy, as carries themselves often collected between 35 and 40 percent of the amount charged to customers, meaning carriers were able to earn hundreds of millions of dollars off such fraudulent charges.

Again, while the FTC is aggressively cracking down on such “cramming,” AT&T is making it particularly difficult for customers to claim their refund, as unlike other carriers who are handling refunds internally, AT&T is directing customers to apply for refunds through the FTC, an extra step the company clearly knows will result in less claims.

By comparison, a similar charge of “cramming” was levelled against T-Mobile last year, with the carrier reaching its own $90 million settlement. While both companies have been required to send numerous text messages to customers reminding them of their possible eligibility for a refund, T-Mobile is handling its refunds in-house, meaning customers need only to ask T-Mobile for a refund, instead of having to apply through the FTC as AT&T customers will have to do.

But all that to say, consider this part of the awareness campaign to notify all AT&T customers potentially impacted by the company’s fraudulent acts to act quickly in order to receive the refund owed them, if for no other reason than to hold AT&T, and every other carrier, accountable for their unethical practices.

To find out eligibility for the refund, customers can call 877-819-9692. Customers can apply for the refund at the FTC’s website: https://www.ftc.gov/enforcement/cases-proceedings/refunds/att-refunds.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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