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FCC fines AT&T $700,000 over data plan blunder [updated]


The Federal Communications Commission announced on Tuesday that AT&T (T) has agreed to pay a $700,000 fine for switching data plans of select customers. The nation’s second largest carrier was faced with a complaint for switching customers from their grandfathered pay-as-you-go data plans despite the fact that AT&T promised some customers they could keep their current plans. Those customers affected by the company’s actions will also receive a payment totaling approximately $25 to $30 per month.

The FCC began investigating AT&T in November 2009 after the carrier changed its policy regarding smartphone plans and began transferring customers away from their traditional pay-as-you-go data plans. AT&T has agreed that in addition to the fine and restitution payments, it will do a better job of notifying its customers and training its employees, and it will continue to search for those customers who were improperly switched, along with occasionally reporting to the FCC.

UPDATE: An AT&T spokesperson reached out to BGR and provided us with the following statement; “The consent decree involves less than 0.03 percent of our wireless customers, who inadvertently had a monthly data plan added to their account after getting a new smartphone through a warranty or insurance exchange or after relocating.”

“We had already discovered and corrected the issue by Nov. 2010, and had given refunds to customers who contacted us,” the spokesperson continued. “Based on a review of our refund process, we believe a vast majority of those customers affected by the billing error have already been made whole. But as part of the decree we’ll be providing a bill-page notice to affected customers, offering refunds, and giving them the option to return to a data pay-per-use plan, or to have a data block applied to their phone.”