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Cell Phone Services

Miami, FL: (Mar-02-08) Florida Attorney General Bill McCollom brought charges against AT&T Mobility, alleging that Floridians were billed for ring tones, text messaging, and other third-party services advertised on the Internet as free. Records show that a lawsuit was filed following a three-year state review of consumer complaints over Internet ads encouraging consumers to enter their cell phone number for "unlimited free ring tones" or "free texting." The suit claimed that the ads often targeted teenagers who would sign up without reading the ads' fine print, which included information about required monthly fees. Unsuspecting customers would then get bills with between $9.99 and $49.99 in extra charges.

The parties reached a settlement agreement, in which the company agreed to refund Floridians who were wrongfully billed for the advertised services. As part of the settlement, AT&T will pay the state $2.5 million for continued reform efforts and will contribute $500,000 toward consumer education on safe Internet usage. Sources at the AG's office said that including refunds, the settlement could total more than $10 million, depending on how many consumers file claims. Florida AT&T customers will receive a notice in the mail within 90 days explaining the settlement and how to file a claim. In the meantime, consumers who think they may have been charged for third-party services they thought were free can access and review their account in order to file a claim.

State officials say the settlement is significant because AT&T is the first cell company that has agreed to police third-party cell phone content on the Internet. The company is requiring third parties to clearly state the costs to consumers and will identify charges as such on customers' wireless bills. By agreeing to the state's terms, AT&T is ensuring millions of customers nationwide that it will hold third-parties accountable to a standard of fair and full disclosure. [SUN SENTINEL: CELL PHONE FEES]

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Published on Mar-3-08


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