AT&T penalized for changing data plans

AT&T has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle complaints that it switched the wireless data plans of so-called “grandfathered subscribers” without their knowledge or permission.

According to a consent decree reached with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), AT&T began transferring certain wireless subscribers to mandatory monthly plans beginning in November 2009, despite promises that it would allow those with “pay as you go” plans to continue with their existing service. The unauthorized switching affected a number of consumers who replaced phones under warranty or insurance, or who moved to a new residence, prompting consumer complaints and an FCC investigation.

Under the terms of the consent decree, AT&T will make a $700,000 voluntary payment to the U.S. Department of Treasury, and issue refunds to individual customers who were affected by the unauthorized switching of data plans. The FCC estimates that excess charges per consumer could be as much as $25 to $30 per month, depending on individual data usage.

Read the complete text of the FCC’s consent decree with AT&T to settle complaints that it switched wireless data plans of some customers.