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EB Enters $700K Consent Decree with AT&T Inc. Regarding Data Charges

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Released: November 6, 2012

Federal Communications Commission

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This is an unofficial announcement of Commission action. Release of the full text of a Commission order constitutes official action.
See MCI v. FCC. 515 F 2d 385 (D.C. Circ 1974).




November 6, 2012
Mark Wigfield, 202-418-0253



FCC Enforcement Bureau Consent Decree Will Also Require AT&T to Refund Excess Charges
Washington, D.C. – As a result of an FCC Enforcement Bureau investigation, AT&T agreed to pay
$700,000 as part of a consent decree to resolve complaints that the company switched certain consumers
to its mandatory monthly wireless data plans even though it had promised they could retain their existing
pay-as-you-go data plans. These customers are called “grandfathered subscribers.”
AT&T has agreed to refund excess charges paid by individual customers, which could be as much as $25
to $30 a month, depending on data use. The transfers began occurring in November 2009, shortly after
AT&T required first-time smartphone subscribers or those who upgraded their phones to enroll in
monthly data plans. Consumer complaints prompted the FCC to launch an investigation last year.
“Today’s action sends a clear signal that wireless carriers can’t wrongfully charge consumers,’’ said FCC
Chairman Julius Genachowski. “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.”
“This Consent Decree puts precious dollars back in the pockets of consumers—where they belong,” said
Michele Ellison, Chief of the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau. “We strongly encourage AT&T subscribers to
check their bills closely and contact the company if they spot any overcharges related to wireless data.”
AT&T smartphone customers who had pay-as-you-go data plans (or had disabled network data) and kept
their old phones had the option to keep their pay-as-you-go data plans when the company made monthly
plans mandatory in September 2009. Some consumers who replaced these phones under warranty or
insurance, or who moved to a new residence were switched to the monthly plans, even though AT&T had
said the “grandfathering” policy would continue to apply in these situations.
Under the terms of today’s Consent Decree with AT&T, the company has agreed to make a voluntary
payment in the amount of $700,000 to the U.S. Department of Treasury and refunds to individual
customers. AT&T has also agreed to an extensive compliance plan, which includes: consumer
notification, training of customer care representatives, and periodic compliance reports to the FCC.
AT&T must also conduct additional searches of its records to identify improperly switched consumers
and ensure appropriate refunds.
The full link to the consent decree is The accompanying Order is at

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