No More Phony Bills?

AT&T has agreed to refund consumers who were improperly billed without forcing them to buy other AT&T services. The agreement came late Wednesday night and was finalized Thursday morning, but this is not the end.

Three dollar and 95-cent charges from AT&T began arriving in January. Many of the 103,000 Floridians and a million more people nationwide who got the bills aren’t even AT&T customers.

During two days of grueling testimony a current AT&T sales rep testified she was not allowed to grant refunds unless callers signed up for some AT&T services.

After that testimony, the company began talking settlement. Late Wednesday night they reached agreement, then 12 hours later tried to back out, telling the court they misunderstood what they had agreed upon.

The sticking point, agreeing not to try and sell any Florida consumer different services when they call with a complaint. Judge Niki Clark says AT&T knew or should have known what it was they were agreeing too.

The companies’ lawyers stormed out of the courtroom. The company will now be required to refund the improper charges by June 15.

Chris Kise, Solicitor General, says, "And two they are not going to be subjected to the sales hitch, pitch and switch every single time they call up with a billing complaint. That’s what AT&T has been doing because that’s how they conduct their business."

But the case is not over. The attorney general will now try and prove the company engaged in unfair and deceptive practices by sending the bogus bills in the first place.

If the state can prove AT&T purposely sent out bills it knew was wrong, the company could be liable for up to $10,000 for each occurrence.