AT&T’s $14 Million Hidden Charges Settlement: You have 13 more days to file a claim

AT&T’s $14 Million Hidden Charges Settlement: You have 13 more days to file a claim

Current and former AT&T customers, you may be eligible for a share of the $14 million settlement the carrier agreed to after a class-action lawsuit alleging it charged subscribers hidden fees for years.

Plaintiffs in Vianu v. AT&T Mobility allege the telecom company failed to notify postpaid wireless customers that they were being charged a $1.99 monthly administration fee that they say is really a way to increase the base rate “without having to advertise higher rates “. (Unlike prepaid subscriberspostpaid users are billed based on usage thereafter.)

AT&T has denied the allegations. In an email to CNET, the company said it “clearly and visibly” discloses all fees. The carrier agreed to the settlement, it added, “to avoid lengthy, expensive litigation.”

Here’s what you need to know about the AT&T hidden fees case, including who’s eligible to pay, when the deadline is to file a claim, and how much eligible customers could get. Scroll down for more on how to apply.

Want to learn more about class action settlements?
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What is AT&T accused of in the class action lawsuit?

AT&T cell phone

Eligible customers must apply by October 29, 2022 to receive a portion of the payout.

SOPA Images/Getty Images

In the lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, plaintiffs Ian Vianu, Elizabeth Blum and Dominic Gutierrez allege that the monthly administrative fee attached to each wireless line in May 2013 was really a way for AT&T to increase its base rate “without having to advertise higher prices .”

The fee has increased regularly since then — more than doubling in 2018 up to $1.99 per month — even though AT&T’s financials reportedly show that the company’s administrative costs are actually decreasing.

According to the complaintmention of the fee is deliberately buried in the account statements “to [make] customers probably won’t notice.”

It’s also worded to suggest it’s similar to a tax or regulatory fee, the lawsuit says, “when in fact it’s simply a way for AT&T to advertise and promise lower rates than it actually charges.”

Calling the practice a “bait and switch scheme,” the plaintiffs allege that AT&T “unfairly and improperly extracted hundreds of millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains from California consumers.”

Their complaint accuses the carrier of violating several California statutes related to unfair, unlawful and deceptive business practices, as well as the “implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.”

Who is entitled to money from the AT&T settlement?

Although all postpaid customers have been charged fees, only California residents are eligible for payment in this case. That’s because California Consumer Remedies Act protects residents from “false advertising, fraud and other unfair business practices.”

AT&T customers in California who were charged administrative fees on their postpaid wireless service plans between June 20, 2015 and June 16, 2022 can apply for a one-time cash payment.

It’s not clear how many subscribers AT&T has in California, but with more than 80 million postpaid users nationwide, it is the third largest mobile carrier in the US.

How much will qualified buyers receive in the settlement?

Class members who successfully file suit will receive an equal share of the $14 million settlement. According to the settlement website, it is currently estimated at $20, but the final amount could be higher or lower depending on the number of claimants, as well as attorneys’ fees.

Current AT&T subscribers would receive a refund via automatic credit to their account, while former customers would receive a check in the mail.

The payouts won’t be a full refund: According to AT&T records, the average customer has paid $180 in fees since 2015. The Verge reportedtwo years after the start of practice.

How do I claim a payment from an AT&T settlement?

If you think you’re eligible for part of the settlement, you can file a claim on this website or print the physical form send by mail.

You will be asked for your name, mailing and email address, and AT&T Wireless phone number or account number. Requests must be submitted by October 29, 2022.

AT&T settlement notification postcard

Sample postcard sent to eligible class members in AT&T class-action settlement.

Vianu v. AT&T Mobility

Some class members received emails or postcards notifying them of the potential settlement with a notification ID and confirmation code. If you received a notification, please provide the ID and code you received when you submitted your request. If you haven’t received a postcard or email — or don’t know where it is — you can still file without them.

The deadline for opting out of the settlement and retaining the right to file your own lawsuit was September 29, 2022.

When will class members receive payment from the AT&T settlement?

Any compensation will be paid after the final job approval hearing, scheduled for Nov. 3.

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