Misleading smartphone customers has a price—a very high one. According to the Federal Trade Commission, AT&T will pay $60 million to settle litigation with the FTC over 2014 allegations that the the wireless giant misled millions of customers by charging them for an “unlimited plan” and then slowing their data speed when the customers hit data caps. The “bait and switch scam” was denounced by FTC Chairman Ronit Chopra in a strongly worded statement about dominant companies like AT&T whose “market power, financial resources, and one-sided information gives them license to ignore their own contractual obligations while aggressively enforcing every little clause in fine print.
Although this settlement may not have major financial consequences on a behemoth like AT&T, it sends a clear message to executives that prioritizing profit over customers with lies and scams will have consequences. According to Chopra, “AT&T fleeced its customers to enrich executives and its investors” and in addition to the monetary settlement, AT&T cannot lie to its customers again. In fact, the wireless carrier is prohibited from making any representation about the speed or amount of its mobile data, including that it is “unlimited,” without disclosing any material restrictions on the speed or amount of data. The disclosures need to be prominent, not buried in fine print or hidden behind hyperlinks. In other words, AT&T needs to be more transparent.
It’s not at all surprising that big promises made by wireless carriers usually turn out to be exaggerated or simply untrue. More and more instances of such deceit cause consumers to become deeply distrustful of the company or, they are simply unaware that they are victims of a scam.
Although we’re grateful that regulatory bodies like the FTC step in to protect customers, there’s another way you can ensure that they pay the lowest rate possible: send your monthly bills to Billshark and we’ll make sure you never overpay again.