Hell doesn’t appear to be freezing over and it’s definitely not April 1st, so I guess this story is actually true. More than 2.7 million AT&T customers will be getting refunds on their bill credits in the next two months, as the Federal Trade Commission settles an issue over AT&T billing for “premium text message services” without the consent of customers.
According to the FTC, AT&T added a $9.99-a-month charge to the bills of many consumers, purportedly for “premium text messaging services,” including ringtones, wallpaper, and text messages providing horoscopes, flirting tips, celebrity gossip, and other similar information. The practices continued until January 2014, when the FTC managed to get AT&T to stop the practice.
But today, the Commission announced that it’s been able to go even further, getting AT&T to refund those charges to consumers. Through the FTC’s refund program, 2.5 million current AT&T customers will receive a bill credit in the next 75 days, while former customers will be getting a check in the mail. Those refunds aren’t small, as the FTC says the average amount is $31.
The refunds come from a 2014 settlement, which saw AT&T pay $80 million towards refunds. The refund program itself is being administered by a third-party company, Epiq Systems, rather than AT&T.
This is the last step in a long process for the FTC, which has been planning this refund for years. It forced AT&T to notify customers who had been affected by the bad billion practices. Those customers in turn filed claims with the FTC, who examined the validity, and is now processing the refunds.
The FTC has established a site to help anyone with questions about the refund process, and to also pre-emptively work against scammers who will undoubtedly use these “refund checks” as an opportunity to scam unsuspecting victims.