AT&T Sued for Hidden Fees

Another day, another bogus fee from a big service provider. AT&T is facing a lawsuit due to its $1.99 “administrative fee” that increases the advertised rate without disclosing it to the customer.

According to the lawsuit, the case “challenges a bait-and-switch scheme perpetrated by AT&T against its wireless service customers.” Here’s how it works, according to the plaintiffs:

  1. AT&T advertises specific flat monthly rates for its post-paid wireless service plans.
  2. After customers sign up, AT&T charges a higher rate than the one advertised and that customers agreed to pay.
  3. AT&T increases the actual price of the plan by tacking on a $1.99 “administrative fee” every month for each phone line.
  4. AT&T buries this “administrative fee” in the monthly bill, making it difficult for customers to identify it and making it appear as though it is a tax or government pass-through fee.
  5. Customers who sign up for online billing do not even see this fee in the default view of the billing statements.
  6. The “administrative fee” is described “deep within AT&T’s website — whereby design it is unlikely to be viewed by consumers, and certainly not before they purchase their wireless service plans.”
  7. The description suggests that this fee is tied to certain costs associated with AT&T providing wireless telephone services but that fee has consistently gone up, while the costs of providing cell service have gone down.
  8. Since 2013, when the fee was first introduced, the rate has increased three times.
  9. The suit alleges that this is not an actual administrative fee, but rather a way for AT&T to charge higher rates without advertising higher prices.
  10. Through this scheme, AT&T has received hundreds of millions of dollars from California consumers.

According to Ars Technica, AT&T stated simply that the fee is standard and was, in fact, disclosed to customers.

Hidden fees are just one way that service providers your side. Send us your bills and we’ll negotiate a lower rate so that you never overpay again.

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