AT&T Agrees To Refund Unauthorized Third-Party Charges On Cellphone Bills

AT&T Mobility has agreed to offer refunds to customers who were charged for third-party services like ringtones, although if you were frequently a victim of this you’ll quickly exhaust your refund quota: “Customers will able to claim refunds for spurious charges that appeared on up to three of their monthly bills between Jan. 1, 2004, and May 30, 2008.” AT&T should be sending out a notification to its customers “soon,” but you can already download a refund request.

Will this bring an end to cramming on the AT&T network? Maybe it depends on how many customers demand refunds, although it seems that AT&T is taking steps to rein in the worst of the third-party companies:

[AT&T] now requires customers who sign up for third-party services with recurring fees to confirm by replying to a text message. It also requires the content providers to send monthly reminders with instructions on how to unsubscribe from such services.

“AT&T has taken aggressive action to put industry-leading safeguards in place to protect our customers from unauthorized changes from third parties. We believe this settlement is consistent with that approach,” Richter said.

Richter had no estimate for how much the settlement will cost AT&T. Given that the company already let customers contest spurious charges, he said the number who will get refunds through the settlement will be small. The company will pay the plaintiffs’ lawyers $4.3 million.

Notifications will soon go out to 70 million current AT&T Mobility customers.

Here’s more info on cramming to help you protect your cellphone bill from exploding.

“AT&T settles suit over 3rd-party cell phone fees” [Associated Press]
ThirdPartyContentRefund.com

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Comments

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  1. iEddie says:

    I hate AT&T, but I have to say, go AT&T. Step in the right direction. Except that it took them a freaking lawsuit to do this.

  2. mmstk101 says:

    we get a ton of those ads up here. I hate them. “Text FAME to ##### for the best jokes about all the famous celebrities.” BARF.

  3. hewhoroams says:

    It’s good to see ATT finally take a stand on this issue. These refunds used to get passed around to so many companies it was ridiculous.
    I’d say about half of premium txt message charges are fake in some way or another. (used to work in the industry)
    Remember if you get a strange message, just reply STOP ALL to it, and you should stop being charged.

  4. Sam2k says:

    In my experience, AT&T almost ALWAYS refunds unwanted subscription fees if you ask when you call to have them canceled/blocked.

  5. dragonfire81 says:

    Good move, but ditch the refund cap altogether, these services are becoming more and more prevalent and it’s easy to get snagged up in one even when you never have before.

  6. Tremblor says:

    AT&T is making them send additional text messages each month telling the how to unsubscribe? How much do you want to bet these will be charged like normal texts?

  7. P_Smith says:

    This is a PR move, not a concern for customers. If AT&T were really concerned, they wouldn’t allow cramming in the first place.

    AT&T profits from the crammers, so it’s going to continue.

  8. ruffedges says:

    From the claim from: Step 1 – Identify Unauthorized Third party Mobile Content Billed and Paid for By You. Identify third party mobile content charges that were billed by AT&T Mobility from January 1, 2004 to May 30, 2008. This information is located on your AT&T Mobility wireless bill. The claim form will ask you to specifically identify the third party mobile content charges that you seek to have refunded. Who has all their old cellular bills dating back to 2004? I think AT&T should be responsible for going over the bills and refunding EVERYONE affected – not just the few that will be able to maneuver through this maze. You would have to spend several hours or even days to complete this. STUPID!

  9. jhurley03 says:

    I used to work for AT&T customer service and if someone called in about 3rd party charges, we would always refund the charges and offer to block it. You have to send a message to subscribe to the 3rd party service and they send you a confirmation message to confirm the subscription. AT&T shouldn’t be getting sued because parents can’t watch what their kids do with their cellphone.