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As it lobbies to prevent its acquisition of Time Warner from being blocked by the new President AT&T is told to refund $88 million of dodgy charges.

Scott Bicheno

December 9, 2016

2 Min Read
mobile phone bill

As it lobbies to prevent its acquisition of Time Warner from being blocked by the new President AT&T is told to refund $88 million of dodgy charges.

The order has come from the FCC, which is so pleased with its work it commissioned a rudimentary infographic to commemorate the occasion (see below).

The issue in question is commonly referred to ‘cramming’ which is another way of saying ‘charging people for stuff they never asked for and without notifying them in advance.’ Apparently AT&T partnered with third parties, including Tatto and Acquinity, to bill its customers for useless tat such as ringtones and text message ‘fun fact’ subscriptions, and then trousered at least 35% of the charge itself. Very classy. This practice only stopped when the FCC intervened in 2014 and it’s taken another couple of years to force AT&T to do the decent thing.

“AT&T received a high volume of complaints related to mobile cramming prior to the FTC and other federal and state agencies stepping in on consumers’ behalf,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez. “I am pleased that consumers are now being refunded their money and that AT&T has changed its mobile billing practices.”

As the same time AT&T execs have gone cap in hand to Washington D.C. to plead with politicians not to block its proposed acquisition of Time Warner. As the WSJ reports, President-elect Donald Trump has expressed hostility to the deal and AT&T seems to have concluded a spot of begging is in order.

CNN, which is owned by Time Warner, reported the following quote from Trump during his successful Presidential campaign: “As an example of the power structure I’m fighting, AT&T is buying Time Warner and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”

Trump rode a wave of unbridled populism to the White House and seems likely to maintain that stance in office. Attacking large corporations and their perceived greed is currently very much in fashion and the last thing AT&T needs in that climate is stories about it knowingly ripping off its own customers.

 

ATT-refund-infographic.jpg

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of Telecoms.com, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Telecoms.com Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Telecoms.com Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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