Attorney General Pam Bondi News Release
December 30, 2011
Contact: Whitney Ray
Phone: (850) 245-0150
Attorney General Bondi’s Office Reaches Multi-Million Dollar Settlement with AT&T Mobility Over Allegations of Unwanted Cell Phone Charges
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.–Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a settlement with AT&T Mobility resolving allegations that Roadside Assistance plans were charged to Florida customers’ cell phone bills without the customers’ consent. Customers were billed $2.99 per month for the service. The agreement requires AT&T Mobility to refund all charges for Roadside Assistance to Florida customers who did not consent to or use the service during the time they were charged. The Attorney General's Office estimates that more than 600,000 cell phone numbers of Florida customers were charged for Roadside Assistance during the time period investigated and that a substantial number of those customers will be eligible for refunds. Significantly, this is the first case that specifically requires a cell phone company to use text messages to confirm a service has been added to a customer's cell phone and provide an easy method for the consumer to cancel the service if it is unwanted.
“All customers who paid for unwanted services deserve to be made whole, and we have guaranteed that AT&T Mobility will fully refund their money,” stated Attorney General Pam Bondi. “Additionally, AT&T Mobility must notify customers via text message of added charges and service cancellation procedures.”
In addition to full refunds for Florida customers, AT&T Mobility will:
· Provide prepaid telephone cards with a face value of $550,000 for donation to members of the United States military;
· Donate $10,000 to the Florida Law Enforcement Officer of the Year program; and
· Pay $1.2 million to the Attorney General's Office for future enforcement and attorneys' fees and costs.
The settlement requires that AT&T Mobility provide any future customers multiple disclosures concerning charges associated with Roadside Assistance and how to cancel the service. As part of these required disclosures, AT&T Mobility will send an initial text message five days after a customer is enrolled in Roadside Assistance confirming the details of the purchase and providing an easy way to cancel. In addition, the company will send another text message to those customers five days prior to the expiration of any free period of service reminding the customer of the charges and providing further notice of how to cancel. If the customer does not have a text messaging plan or does not receive text messages, AT&T Mobility will send a letter to the customer to confirm the purchase of Roadside Assistance and provide cancellation information.
The settlement also requires that AT&T Mobility clearly and conspicuously disclose the cost of Roadside Assistance and other AT&T Mobility services when offered in certain types of billing plans. AT&T Mobility must obtain the customer’s authorization for the added charges.
Customers who were charged for Roadside Assistance between February 2004 until such time as AT&T Mobility implements the text message disclosures and did not consent to or use the service are eligible for the full refund and will receive a post card with information on how to file a claim.
To view the settlement agreement, please follow this hyperlink: http://myfloridalegal.com/webfiles.nsf/WF/JMEE-8Q2PLB/$file/AT&T+-+Executed+AVC.pdf