AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular) will no longer charge their customers for any calls made after their phones are lost or stolen. In the complaint, Attorney General Jerry Brown alleged that the company violated California law, including Public Utilities Code section 2890, which bars phone companies from charging customers for unauthorized services.
“No cell phone company should profit from calls made by thieves or unauthorized users,” Brown said.
The agreement, a stipulated judgment, requires AT&T Mobility to inform each of their customers of their legal rights regarding lost or stolen phones. Under the agreement, AT&T must either credit the disputed charges or inform customers of their legal rights.
AT&T must notify customers–in writing–of these new requirements and assist customers to obtain credit for amounts already paid on lost or stolen phones, back to year 2003. AT&T will also pay the Attorney General’s Office $500,000 for costs of the investigation and for the Unfair Competition Law Fund, administered by the California District Attorneys Association.
“This groundbreaking settlement makes AT&T the first cell phone company that has agreed to protect its customers from cell phone rip-offs and other unauthorized uses,” Brown said. “It is now time for the rest of the cell phone industry to step forward and follow AT&T’s example,” Brown added.
What will happen if the rest of the cell phone industry doesn’t follow AT&T’s “example”? Well, the California Attorney General has never been known for his “wait & see” attitude.