Wireless carrier, AT&T, has agreed to pay $700,000 to the federal government and offer refunds to customers who were mistakenly forced into subscribing for monthly data plans. The issue began in late 2009, when new smartphone customers with AT&T were required to subscribe to monthly data plans. Even existing subscribers who had pay-per-use data plans or did not have any plan at all were made to subscribe to a monthly plan upon upgrading their smartphones.
However, customers who replaced a lost or damaged phone through an insurance program or warranty, or those who moved to a different AT&T service area, were not supposed to get themselves a monthly data plan. But due to a computer error, this requirement was enforced even on these customers. To undo this damage, the company has been asked to restore the customers’ previous plans and offer them refunds, which could be up to $30 a month.
The company has stated that this ruling will affect a small number of customers and that they have already refunded the customers who contacted them. The Federal Communications Commission’s decision also requires AT&T to notify customers via their bills and offer them an option to revert to their original pay-per-use plans or have no data plans at all.