AT&T Wireless fined $700,000 by the FCC

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The FCC announced that AT&T will pay a $700,000 fine and return money to customers who paid excessive charges after they were unknowingly switched to a costlier data plan. The fine stemmed from a series of complaints from AT&T customers who were switched to a more expensive monthly data plans without their consent.

According to the complaint, customers were switched from a pay-as-you-go plan to a monthly subscription due to a mistake by AT&T. The error was discovered in 2010 and customers were reimbursed when they contacted the carrier about the overage. AT&T says this glitch affected less than 0.03 percent of its customers and many customers have already been reimbursed. An AT&T spokesperson said,

“The consent decree involves less than 0.03 percent of our wireless customers, who inadvertently had a monthly data plan added to their account after getting a new smartphone through a warranty or insurance exchange or after relocating.

We had already discovered and corrected the issue by Nov. 2010, and had given refunds to customers who contacted us. Based on a review of our refund process, we believe a vast majority of those customers affected by the billing error have already been made whole. But as part of the decree we’ll be providing a bill-page notice to affected customers, offering refunds, and giving them the option to return to a data pay-per-use plan, or to have a data block applied to their phone.”

As part of the FCC’s settlement, AT&T will reimburse effected customers by paying them the approximately $30 extra they paid each month. If customers believe they are eligible for a refund, they can contact AT&T. The carrier will also search its own database to find and contact those customers who are owed a refund.

[Via NBC News]

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