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AT&T Agrees to Stop Cramming Unauthorized Charges on Phone Bills

Phillip Dampier April 4, 2012 AT&T, Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't 4 Comments

AT&T has joined Verizon in a groundbreaking decision to stop allowing bogus charges on customer’s phone bills.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.) publicly thanked AT&T for joining with Verizon to stop the fraudulent fees, which a recent Senate investigation found netted at least $10 billion over the last five years.

“AT&T made the right decision to end cramming by August,” Rockefeller said. “While the decisions of AT&T and Verizon are a step in the right direction, I still believe we need to pass a bill that bans this abusive practice once and for all.”


Phone companies have been reluctant to stop third-party billing because it represents lucrative revenue for companies that have watched their landline customers disconnect and disappear.

“According to financial information my staff has reviewed, telephone companies earn a dollar or two every time they place a third-party charge on their customers’ bills,” Rockefeller said. “Do the math. That’s well over a billion dollars in profit over the past decade.”

AT&T suggested the cramming problem was overblown, but relented anyway.

“We currently receive cramming complaints for only about one out of every thousand bills that contain third-party charges,” said Michael Balmoris, an AT&T spokesman, in a statement to MSNBC.  “However, due to continued concern over the possibility of unauthorized charges, we have decided to take this additional step and eliminate third-party billing for most types of services.”

In late March, Verizon notified its billing partners it would cease third-party billing by the end of 2012.

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. Earl says:

    Quote: “Phone companies have been reluctant to stop third-party billing because it represents lucrative revenue for companies that have watched their landline customers disconnect and disappear.”
    Those “Phone companies” like AT$T have brought that upon themselves with deregulation that they pushed for, because the quality of service on those landlines becomes intolerable and the the ever increasing cost surpasses the wireless bill.
    Quote: “AT&T suggested the cramming problem was overblown, but relented anyway.”
    Yeah, who would want to give that up? they collect their cut and someone else takes the heat.

  2. Ben says:

    Are they going to stop the $2 per kilobyte ghost data charges? I still have to maintain data blocks on 4 of my lines which have an Family Messaging Plan because if I don’t I’ll be slammed with miscellaneous $2 charges. So, I end up paying for features I can no longer use like MMS and IM!

  3. Earl says:

    Apparently this practice is a lot worse than AT$T would lead us to believe (why am I not surprised?), and they allow it to happen. And when caught, they try appease customers with a partial refund. Until they are threatened with lose of a customer or lawsuit, then a full refund is given.

  4. Baxter says:

    idk if its because our account is old (2001) or what but everytime we had a prob with this, we called them and they credited us for it, even if it was for 3 months or so, they didnt really mind, most of it was just my little brother doin stupid stuff on the phone but either way ive known this to be a prob with others that have younger accounts

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