Android Central

Back in 2009, AT&T started shifting pay-as-you-go data subscribers to full monthly customers, despite promises that they would be able to grandfather their old plans in. This meant that customers would end up paying $25 - $30/month more than they used to, but thanks to a tidal wave of customer complaints and the intervention of th FCC, not only are those customers getting refunds, but AT&T is coughing up a $700,000 fine. The FCC chairman Julius Genachowski commented on the resolution: 

"Today’s action sends a clear signal that wireless carriers can’t wrongfully charge consumers. These strong FCC accountability measures will ensure customers are not over-charged. I am pleased that AT&T is taking the appropriate steps to resolve this issue."

FCC Enforcement Bureay chief Michele Ellison also chimed in.

"This Consent Decree puts precious dollars back in the pockets of consumers—where they belong. We strongly encourage AT&T subscribers to check their bills closely and contact the company if they spot any overcharges related to wireless data."

That's some tall talk, and AT&T is understandably on the defensive. They say that fewer than 0.03% of their customers had been affected, and that the vast majority of them have already been refunded. 

Was anyone affected by this transition years ago? Experience any other similar forced transitions with other carriers? 

Source: FCC

Via: Reuters


Reader comments

AT&T fined $700,000 by FCC for overcharging PAYG customers


I wasn't affected , but as an employee i remember att told us if a customer called in to complain , to try to sustain charges and if we were unable to, to issue credit and correct plan and we were also told not to proactively address the issue if we noticed it on a customers bill.

I can believe that. Its as if providing good customer service is only required when you get busted.

I wonder how many people were affected, got frustrated and left the carrier?

And the fine was NOTHING!!!

The FCC didn't fine att whatsoever, just holding an escrow account for those to prove they were screwed by att. ATT should of had a heavy fine fro fraud and racketeering, should have been ordered to find, apologize, and reimburse all affected customers because of corporate greed and sh$tty ethics. Nothing happening to them because they pay enough representatives off with all their lobbyist, corporations with crappy ethics is why America is failing.

I was with ATTWS before Cingular bought them, and subsequently changed the name to att and moved their network assets around by sellinf some to T-Mobile.

My "old" ATTWS plan was great and fit my needs. Cingular ATT kept trying to get me to switch plans (and get off month to month) to get 'rollover'.

The network coverage issues drove me to T Mobile then Verizon. While I miss GSM unlocked phones, I pretty much stick with a phone for 20-22 months now.

That said, it seems carriers have a funny interpretation of "grandfathered".

Verizon got rid of unlimited and recently made it so you can't get a subsidized phone without changing from a grandfathered plan. If all the carriers didn't have high MSRP's on phones, many folks would not mind. $299, $199 on contract is a bit steep. Why not sell the phones at a modest profit and make the money on the "service"? Instead they want to lock us into 2 year contracts (what happened to 1 year contracts) plus charge us monthly (built into the rate) for the subsidized phone.

That said, unlimited should mean just that and grandfathered should be kept for as long as you are a customer in good standing.

Yeah, this is great and all, but why is it fair that even if I by an unlocked smartphone it's required that I have a data plan even when most smartphones include an option to turn off data. That is so scummy to charge customers for a feature that isn't required.

I get if I bought it subsidized they would want to make their money back by charging the data plan. But after the two years it should be removable. Also, unlocked or full priced phones should NOT need to require a data plan.

Can we get the FCC on this issue.

AT&T said that I can be in a grand fathered unlimited data plan, until last April when I had to sign up for a new limited data plan because my unlimited smartphone plan is not compatible with the Nokia Lumia 900. I couldn't refuse the "free" Lumia, so I bitterly switched my data plan.

AT&T is forcing its users to forget old plans when you're trying to get the discounted phones. Bastards. I miss my free SMS days (including international SMS) and unlimited data back in the days. Being a long time customer of Pacific Bell... wait.. no, Cingular... oh.... sorry, AT&T, has no perks.