AT&T Lawsuit Unlawful Billing

A Wilmington woman has filed a lawsuit against AT&T seeking damages for unlawful billing of its customers under the "Inside Wire Protection Plan." The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for Eastern North Carolina, seeks to represent all AT&T customers affected by its billing fraud. The lawsuit claims $10 million from the defendant company for billing fraud.

Gloria Girton, the lead plaintiff, alleges that AT&T charges its customers for services they do not even own. The complainant accuses the defendant of illegally charging its landline customers living in multi-tenant facilities for needless wire insurance.

The lawsuit contends that despite being aware of its improper and unnecessary charges, the defendant continues to issue bills to building tenants for worthless plans. The suit alleges that the plaintiff has been a victim of fraud due to the defendant company’s indulgence in deceptive sales actions. The plaintiff alleges that the defendant robbed her and several other customers of their hard-earned financial resources.

The lawsuit asserts that the defendant continues with these illegitimate actions despite conducting prior internal investigations into unlawful billing of customers. The lawsuit claims that the plaintiff and other similarly situated persons have suffered damages worth $10 million and "very likely much more" and thus seek compensation from the defendant company.

The lawsuit asserts that all the similarly situated persons in the lawsuit were “enrolled in” the Inside Wire Protection Plan despite the defendant’s knowledge that it did not have any legal right to charge its customers for the plan. The suit claims that plaintiffs being tenants in multi-unit buildings are not responsible for making such payments because they do not own them and thus are not responsible for the maintenance of interior phone wiring in their respective apartment homes. The suit contends that despite this, the plaintiffs were charged an unnecessary fee on their monthly AT&T bills. The lawsuit asserts that the maintenance of the internal wiring is the responsibility of the apartment building's owner, for which they are not entitled to pay any fees or charges.

The complaint cites a court-approved settlement involving the defendant in a 2004 California case when the wireless service provider was on notice for wrongfully billing apartment residents for the plan. The lawsuit contends that the defendant enrolled the complainants in the plan without their consent.

The suit accuses the defendant of illegally charging its landline phone customers who do not even own their interior phone lines for Interior Wire Maintenance, Wire Pro, and Home Wire Protection Charges.
The lawsuit complaint seeks to represent the federal and state class to incorporate both the nationwide putative class and a North Carolina putative class.  The lead plaintiff, who is an 82-year-old lady, accuses the defendant of unnecessarily billing her $9.99 every month when she has not legal responsibility for maintaining the wiring.
The lawsuit also blames the defendant for incorporating arbitration provisions in customers' contracts, which forbids class certification against the wireless service provider. The plaintiffs allege that the provision is harsh, biased, “oppressive,” and “procedurally and substantively unconscionable.”

The lawsuit argues against the enforcement of the provision, which serves “unsavory purposes.” According to the lawsuit, this clause prevents aggrieved customers from joining other class members against the phone company in court. The lawsuit asserts that a class action alone can help affected customers get justice.

The lawsuit asserts that the defendant company has flouted both federal and state consumer laws by indulging in “unfair,” illegal, and “fraudulent business practices” through a “rigged billing system.”
The suit alleges that while the plaintiffs have been at a loss paying overcharged bills, the defendant company has been enjoying a boost to its bottom line through a rigged billing system.

AT&T attributes the overcharged bills to a technical problem with its billing software because of which, it inaccurately logs the date and timing of data connections, thus showing inaccurate data on the wrong month’s billing cycle.

Earlier Lawsuits

Since 2004, AT&T has been on notice for illegally charging apartment residents unnecessary inside wiring maintenance fees and indulging in deceptive marketing and selling actions. It reached a court-approved settlement in this regard in California.

Recently, Patrick Hendricks sued AT&T in the California federal court, claiming that the defendant systematically overcharges the customers using its services on iPhone and iPad. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant exaggerates the user data to charge extra money from customers by billing inflated bills. The suit accuses the defendant of charging customers for phantom downloads even when their connection is off.  The suit contends that itemized charges on the plaintiffs’ cell phone bills are costing them millions. The suit compares the defendant with a gas station, which charges customers for a full gallon when it pumps only nine-tenth in their tanks.

The lawsuit seeks refunds from the defendant for the overcharged bills the plaintiffs have had to pay so far. The suit demands class-action status on behalf of all the disgruntled iPhone and iPad users and seeks punitive charges against the defendant for indulging in unfair business practices. The lawsuit contends that the defendant artificially inflates actual data usage from 7 to 300 percent and bills for data even when the phone is disabled or unused. The lawsuit alleges that the defendant routinely bills customers for 7-14 percent more data transactions than what normally takes place.

Allen Lund Company filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the defendant of unfair and fraudulent business practices, which violate California Unfair Competition Law, and unlawfully billing customers by adding long-distance charges to their local phone bills when they had not even subscribed to that service.

Last April, the defendant wireless service provider was summoned by the Tennessee Regulatory Authority following complaints from customers who received overcharged bills that month. The regulatory authority sought explanation from the company on the overcharges, which affected over 15,000 state residents.

Last year only, AT&T was accused of intentionally degrading service after its acquisition of rival Cingular, following which, customers were required to either pay early upgrade charges or termination fees worth $175. Though the firm admitted no wrongdoing, it settled for paying millions to customers who had to pay early termination fees.
Last year, in November, the wireless service provider settled a lawsuit to refund its customers using iPhone, who alleged that the firm had overbilled them for taxes.