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AT&T, government reach deal on data plan complaints

Published November 7, 2012 8:53 am

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

New York • AT&T agreed to pay the federal government $700,000 and offer refunds to customers for mistakenly forcing some smartphone users into monthly data plans.

In late 2009, AT&T began to require new smartphone customers to subscribe to monthly data plans. Existing subscribers with pay-per-use plans or no plan at all had to get a monthly plan when they upgraded to a new smartphone.

The requirement wasn't supposed to apply when subscribers replaced a lost or broken phone through an insurance program or warranty, or if they moved to a different AT&T service area. But a computer error moved those customers into monthly plans anyway.

AT&T Inc. now must offer to restore the older plans and give refunds, which the Federal Communications Commission said could be up to $30 a month.

AT&T said that the issue affected a small number of customers and that those who contacted AT&T had already been given refunds. Tuesday's agreement with the FCC requires the Dallas company to post notices on consumers' bills and offer them a chance to return to a pay-per-use plan or drop data use entirely.