Since 2013AT&T quietly dumped customers hundreds of millions of dollars with a fake “administrative fee”, a fee it doubled to $ 1.99 a month in 2018. For several years there, a class action lawsuit in California made it look like AT&T could finally take on the task. But this week on both sides told the judge they would settle for only $ 14 million – which means customers can get less than 10 percent of what they paid AT & T, while AT&T continues to charge them.
According to the proposed settlement agreement in Vianu v. AT&T Mobility – which still needs to be approved by a judge – almost every AT&T Wireless subscription customer in California since 2015 will be eligible to pay between $ 15 and $ 29.
But again, that’s just part of what AT & T’s own records show it has charged: $ 180 on average per customer since 2015, according to documents. The agreement “represents a recovery of approximately 6-11 months from average fees,” they said. Meanwhile, lawyers are likely to receive $ 3.5 million.
“The estimated amount of payment is a strong outcome for the dispute settlement class, especially given the significant risks, costs and delays in ongoing litigation,” reads the proposed dispute settlement agreement, listing all the ways in which lawyers sued AT&T, believe AT&T may still win the case.
There is no doubt that the fees are fake in case you are wondering: Judge Laurel Beeler previously stopped AT&T from trying to dismiss the case as the company “fraudulently and unfairly discloses [the administrative fee] which means that AT&T cannot pretend that this is an unexpected expense that it simply passes on to its customers – the carrier benefits from this! However, the plaintiffs’ legal team will not pursue victory.
Oh, and you won’t even get a check in the mail if you’re still an AT&T customer, assuming this version of the settlement is approved. The money will be credited back to your AT&T account, where AT&T can put their hand back in for that $ 1.99 – or more if they feel brave enough to increase the fee again. (Undoubtedly, an AT&T account can be a more reliable way to make sure customers get their money back.)
If approved, you will probably find the settlement website here.
Here are some more links you may find appropriate:
Update, 6:19 PM ET: “We deny the allegations in this lawsuit because we clearly disclose all fees charged to our customers. However, we have decided to resolve this case in order to avoid lengthy and costly litigation, “said AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom in a statement.