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AT&T Is back in Court

The ink is barely dry on an order from a circuit court judge in Tallahassee and AT&T is asking the court to modify or clarify restrictions on what it can say to people who call and complain about their bill.

Under the order, the company cannot try and sell additional services to people who call with billing issues. The restriction began when AT&T put the hard sell on people it had wrongly billed.

Frank Poland got the hard sell from AT&T when he tried to get a refund on a monthly recurring bogus charge the company was adding to his phone bill. Instead of getting the refund the Largo resident ended up buying something.

"She said do you want AT&T to be your carrier again, your long distance service. I said I don’t know about that. She said well you might need it, and I said oh okay go ahead," says Frank.

It was testimony like Mr. Poland’s that convinced Circuit Judge Niki Clark to order AT&T to stop putting the hard sell on people who call with a billing issue.

Last week in court AT&T agreed not to put the hard sell on anyone, customer or not, if they called with a billing complaint, but now the company says that’s not what they intended to do. The phone giant says it never meant to stop selling to everyone who called, just non-customers. Now, it wants the judge to change the order.

Brandi Brown, AT&T spokesperson, says, "You know they want to call and say I just got married and I need to change my name on my bill. We can’t say we can’t give them options that may save them money."

But Florida’s solicitor general says AT&T is just trying to continue what he calls the company’s unethical selling practices.

Christopher Kise, Solicitor General, says, "They tell them you need to sign up for something with AT&T so that we can solve their problem. You need to purchase more services, and the customer gets a run around. We are trying to stop the run around."

More than a million people, many of them not even AT&T customers, began receiving bogus monthly bills in January.

The judge will consider the case Friday afternoon.


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