Do you want to know if AT&T boosts your rates? Maybe you want to pay only for services you ordered or explicitly authorized. Tough! AT&T’s new 2,500 page “guidebook” is the latest spawn of California’s failing experiment with deregulation, one that is in “direct violation” of the law, according to the Public Utilities Commission.
Witteman said a key problem with AT&T’s service agreement is that the company doesn’t list all the terms and conditions that apply to customers. Rather, AT&T says customers must review a separate “guidebook.”
That guidebook is available only online, Witteman said, and runs about 2,500 pages. “What consumer is going to slog through that?” he asked.
Moreover, the service agreement says AT&T will “generally” provide written notice of price increases at least 30 days in advance, except when such notice isn’t “commercially reasonable.”
Witteman said the online guidebook and ambiguous notification policy appear to violate a California statute requiring that consumers “be given sufficient information to make informed choices.”
AT&T’s service agreement is written in dense legalese and essentially gives the company as much latitude as possible — while limiting customers’ ability to seek redress.
An analysis of the agreement prepared for PUC staffers found fault with a variety of AT&T’s provisions, including this one: “You also agree to pay for all charges for services provided under this agreement even if such calls were not authorized by you.”
The analysis said this “is in direct violation to cramming laws,” which protect consumers from having unauthorized charges placed on their bills.
Under the provision, the analysis concluded, “AT&T, or any other billing agents, could impose unauthorized phone calls on a consumer’s bill.” It said consumers would have “little chance in both avoiding and fighting against this type of fraud.”
Unlike mandatory binding arbitration agreements—which are included in the guidebook—you can’t simply opt-out of these new terms. “If you do not agree with the provisions of this agreement, your sole option is to cancel your services . . . within 30 days after receipt of this agreement.”
Go free market, go!
AT&T buries customer rights in 2,500-page ‘guidebook’ [The Los Angeles Times]