The Federal Trade Commission has today announced in a blog post that AT&T will soon start refunding more than $88 million to customers affected by unauthorized charges on their monthly bills.
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Back in 2014, AT&T reached a settlement with the FTC to pay out more than $80 million to affected subscribers, but only now are the carrier and government getting the ball rolling on those refunds.
According to the announcement, some 2.7 million current and former AT&T sucbribers will be receiving refunds that total over $88 million from the FTC. Those affected should expect to receive, on average, about $31.
Those still subscribed to AT&T service should see their refund show up on their bill sometime in the next 75 days, which accounts for 2.5 million of the total number of affected customers. The other 300,000 affected users are no longer AT&T customers and should expect a check in the mail.
The issue, referred to as “mobile cramming,” centered around the fact that AT&T was tacking on monthly charges of $9.99 to customer bills for things like “horoscopes, ringtones, love tips, and fun facts” from third-party companies. Of those charges, AT&T was pocketing 35 percent.
On its new Consumer-focused blog, the FTC breaks down the timeline of the case:
- First, the FTC hired a refund administrator to manage the process.
- Over the next 6 months, we accepted more than 5 million claims from AT&T customers. (Some people submitted more than one claim.)
- As required by the court, the refund administrator made sure that each claim was valid and calculated how best to distribute the funds.
- The FTC also added money recovered in two related FTC cases, Tatto and Acquinity, against companies that added charges to people’s phone bills.
- The court required that an independent auditor review each step of the process. Once the auditor approved the final plan, the refund administrator prepared, printed, and mailed checks and letters.
As you may recall, AT&T was fined by the FCC back in August for a similar action. The two parties reached a settlement that will see AT&T pay a total fine of $7.75 million. The case is centered around the same “cramming” practice, this time for a sham director service.
If you’re AT&T customer and have been for a while, keep an eye on your monthly bill see if you receive $31 back.