Woman sues AT&T after getting a $5k bill for using her netbook's built-in 3G

Oklahoman woman is suing AT&T after she bought a subsidized $99 netbook from Radio Shack, used 15GB of 3G service instead of the maximum of 5GB, and received a $5,000 bill. Go get 'em, Billie Parks! AT&T either needs to cut off the service after 5GB or notify the customer like they say they do—but Parks claims she never saw. [Network World] (Thanks, Reed.)
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7 Responses to Woman sues AT&T after getting a $5k bill for using her netbook's built-in 3G

  1. TJ S says:

    Or we could just go back to a point where “Truth in Advertising” actually means something, and make sure that if a carrier lists a service as “Unlimited”, there’s no cap on it.
    None of this “put in an asterisk and some tiny print at the bottom” or “quick speaking guy at the end of the commercial” BS that’s become standard practice. That’s intentionally misleading the customer, and the companies know it. And if you can’t fit a normal-speed disclaimer into a TV/radio commercial, then that means the claim wasn’t truthful enough to begin with. (As for disclosing side effects of medication, I’ve got a real problem with meds being advertised to the general public in the first place. BigPharma should be forced to stick with wine-and-dining doctors and medical professionals, who actually might understand what the product is)

    (I blame Joel for infecting me with Contagious Rambling Syndrome)

  2. efialtis says:

    Actually, I think this is GREAT!
    AT&T needs to learn a little something about ripping people off.
    I don’t have a problem with their service, and I don’t have a problem with most of what AT&T does … but my story is interesting enough…

    About 6 months ago, my cell phone got stolen. The kid used the internet on the phone and ran up $5k in usage.
    The interesting thing is, the “all-you-can-eat” plan for my phone can be bought for $19 a month.

    So here is the thing, AT&T believes that $19 is a fair price for the “all-you-can-eat” internet plan, but if you don’t have the plan, they can charge you as much as they want.
    In my opinion, a lot of hardship will be fixed if they simply say “oh gee, they have used more than $19 in internet charges, so we should put them on the internet plan, or call them and put them on the internet plan, or stop charging them after the fair price of $19 is reached and notify them of the internet plan…”

    See, if all you can use internet is worth only $19, how do they justify $5k in charges?

    I finally got them to drop all but $500 in charges. Why should I have to pay $500 for something I didn’t do? Why should I have to pay $500 for internet service on my phone that is only worth $19?

    See? AT&T needs a little smackdown…

  3. musicalwoods says:

    I’m really glad my T-Mobile plan makes me call a number or buy a prepay card to get minutes over my monthly allotment. It really should not be possible to rack up such high charges.

  4. Jerril says:

    Hm. From reading the article, she never called them after receiving the bill, she just called her lawyer?

    I know people who do phone support for AT&T wireless, and from her story (wasn’t notified properly about the rates, wasn’t notified that she’d exceeded her balance) I think about 30 minutes on the phone would have had her account credited to cover the overage. It might take a few weeks for the credit to go through due to the size (there’s paperwork the peons have to submit) but it sounds like a pretty solid case.

    I’d find her story believable (assumed that the overage charges would be cheap, therefore didn’t care that she was over limit) except that her first reaction appears to have been “SUE!”.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Um, how can *any* cost, no matter how high, of data transmission, exceed the cost of the first (equal amount) *plus* phone, overhead etc?

    Like many laws about security or rent deposits, I feel bandwidth costs CANNOT exceed base costs, and since the providers can’t do that, there should be a law to that effect!

    hi rob,

    I am anon from the pyramid, and I would have an account if I could (I am gimpy, and surf from my wii)

    This is the post I was near *desperate* to comment on, so thanks for the heads-up! I didn’t actually know.

  6. Joel Johnson says:

    Many moons ago I worked phone support for AT&T, as well, so I know that getting an adjustment is not impossible. However, it’s complete insane that AT&T would ever presume that anyone would plan on spending $5k in a month on a 3G connection. The price is already completely out of whack with reality—does 15GB really cost them all that much more than 5GB? Of course not. And I know the But what if everyone… argument and it’s silly.

    Argh, I’m rambling. Point is: It’s not the fucking ’50s. Being able to rack up a $5k phone bill should really be impossible at this point, but it’s not because AT&T is still a maddening bureaucracy that wants to act like a government utility but charge money like a hungry monopoly.

  7. bostonguy72 says:

    I was reading about this story on another site (maybe consumerist.com?) and I think someone there mentioned that AT&T sent out over-quota notices via SMS, which this person wouldn’t have gotten on her 3G card…

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