AT&T Charges Woman 5 Large in Overage Charges; Gets Sued

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HoodwinkedInDallas

I bought a data connect card from AT&T Wireless last month.  I chose the the largest plan available (5GB) and was told by the salesman that each GB would cover over 1000 e-mails.  The goal was to use the card one day a week, while I work at home, so this seemed fine (I average about 100 e-mails a day at most, sent and received).  At the end of the 1st day, I checked my usage.  10GB already!  Yes boys and girls that is TWICE the covered usage in only 1 day.  I was ONLY using the internet for connection to Outlook (via VPN) and my company's website ONE day a week.  Furious, I took the card back to AT&T and expressed my disbelief at the supposed usage.  A different sales person said that I could not possibly have used so much data--that it would have been almost impossible to use this amount in one day.  Another sales person gave him a half grin, sideways glance and then looked down.  I cancelled the account then and there, returned the merchandise, closed the account, and got out of the store before punching this guy (I am usually not a violent person, but his smug response and inability to do anything about the pending usage charges were making me see red!).  Fast forward 2 days--I called AT&T--to make sure the account was closed and check the damages--"No ma'am, there are no usage charges on your account.  I show you only used about 4 MB of data."  Phew.  Relief.  Issue dropped.  Fast forward to today, 3 weeks after the cancellation.  I received a bill in the mail for--get this-- $560.51!!!  The usage is listed as about 1.5 GB over the allowable 5GB.  Which brings me to the reason for my post:  WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THIS WRITTEN OFF?  8 hours of very limited use SHOULD NOT have racked up this many MB/GB of usage.  About 60 e-mails were sent and received, with no attachments larger than 1MB.  I am pissed and ready to file my own law suit out of principle.  Your thoughts?  Advice?  Thanks in advance,  Michelle 

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txboston

All cell and isp providers should be more clear with their statements. Something can not be called UNLIMTED and then have some type of cap, because it then becomes LIMITED. Its time for all these companies to use ONE universally recognized system of measure, then I and all of these other people would not have to be suprised by insane charges for use. FINE PRINT should be illegal.

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neo1piv14

"However, Parks maintains that she was never told that Internet data
usage over 5GB would result in "astronomical additional charges running
into the thousands of dollars.""

 She was never told that because it's not entirely true. If you use 5.1 GB, you won't get "astronomical additional charges running into the thousands of dollars." However, when you use several times over your limit, expect to be charged significantly more. Companies of all kinds make a killing of the ignorance of their customers. That's just how life works. And as for people complaining that they should have to explain what everything is...well, when you take your car in to get fixed, do you want to have to sit there while the mechanic gives you a condescending speech about what every little part does, and what the 5W40 actually stands for, or do you just want to get what you've contractually agreed to pay for and go on your way. What's in your head should be your responsibility, not theirs. 

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smashingpumpin

meh, for some reason i thought this was "hotforwords" related. moving on...

_______________________________________________

...and what does this have to do with porn?

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Pball1224

The overage charges, or the charges if you don't have a data plan are stupidly high. I was just on vacation and pulled up a google map on my phone to make sure the cab driver wasn't going in circles in an area I'm not familar with, and it cost me $8 to look at a google map for less than a minute. I knew there would be a charge, but was expecting something around $3.

The price cell phone companies charge is unreasonable. My account used to have a spending limit of $200, but I just received notice that due to my "loyalty" it's been removed. I'm going to call and request it be put back. I consider myself to be good at staying in the know on stuff like this, but if I ever do get caught by one of these tricks, I would like the cap of $200 to be in effect!!! $3k... F that.

I hope her lawsuit leads changes in the cell phone companies!

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StaggeredSix

 Personally.. I just "steal" the bandwidth from ATT. With a WM phone and a $30 a month "unlimited" data plan you can too! The prices of cellular data networks are a complete ripoff to begin with. Wanna really give ATT/Radio Shack a run for it's money? Do the same thing people were doing a few years ago when Best Buy and MS teamed up! People figured out the "cool down" period after a purchase.. they were flocking into Best Buy, picking up an MSN discounted computer and then canceling the MSN subscription. Bling! Massive discount.

 

If you have a netbook or notebook just use your Windows Mobile phone and unlimited data plan by tethering. There are various registry edits found all over the net that will tell you how to turn off the ATT way of doing things. They try to force you to tether into "Internet" connection, when really you can use "MEdia Net" the same way. ATT doesn't let you use the MEdia Net connection because that is your phone's unmetered one. Simply change a few things and restart you phone... cha CHING! You aren't paying $60.00 a month for a total BS plan. You've already got unlimited data.. why pay for it all over again?

 

 Oh, did I mention you can actually play your online games with a decent ping?

 

Crack addict by night, IT Manager by day.

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bandeezee

I know people should read what they're signing and I know many of us are guilty of taking someone's word for it instead.  I know I am.  I consider myself fairly wise, but much wiser after my experience with a AT&T U-Verse sales guy.  He paid a house visit and talked about us getting 100 channels for a low price, including an HD receiver, including a DVR, and didn't say anything about it being promotional.

 Of course I later find out that the 100 channel package doesn't include the DVR, you must pay extra to actually get the HD channels (kind of figured that), and the price would almost double after 6 months.  Now if I didn't double check on what was installed and the fact that we weren't able to DVR anything, we would've got hosed.  After a week went by and I had time to check everything and make a couple of calls into the service center and finding out the sales guy pulled a fast one on us, I had them cancel everything.  Luckily they didn't charge us for anything or I would've hit the roof.

My parents (not the most technologically advanced people) also fell prey to sales people.  They went to CC to buy a Sprint phone and were told that they could use their same phone number and send in the rebates which made the phones 1/2 price.  Of course, they got a letter back from Sprint saying because they were not new subscribers they would not get the rebate money.  I was upset because the CC rep specifically told them they could.  I know they should have read the fine print, but when you have someone assuring you that you can and it saves you all that time you would like to believe them.

When are the days going to come where sales associates will actually help customers instead of just trying to screw them.  I know this lady is in the wrong because she didn't pay attention to the details, but just like my parents I'm sure she had some sales associate assuring her it was unlimited or she would never hit 5GB so don't even worry about it.  If she did get lied to, I hope she wins.  Enough of companies trying to stick it to people, especially the way people are hurting for money now.  Stop making people read fine print and put it in big damn letters and tell them when they buy it!!!

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stige

first, the lady is at fault for signing up for a 5MB plan and using more than 5MB.  she's probably also guilty of not knowing what 5MB of data even equates to in real use.  also, litigation in general is seriously out of hand and i dislike it as a general rule - this is no exception.  i don't think her suit should be seen in a court.

second, att is just as much at fault for this happening.  sure it's the customers duty to do due diligence and "their homework" before signing a contract but the service provider has a duty to make said contract understandable and legible to someone WITHOUT a doctorate in legalese.  in fact, if they were to write contracts to the lowest common denominator it's be a HS reading comprehension level.  in the US that means 12th grade comprehension.  i'm pretty sure that most US 12th graders couldn't figure out all the nuances of the crap phone companies call a contract.  (i said 12th grade instead of 9th grade because that's a different rant)

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mikeart03a

I kind of find it funny how people are blaming the consumer or the company fully, there's two sides to every coin.

From what I've seen, seeing as I used to sell PCs and we'd have the oddball discount if a client signed up with an ISP for a year, three sides are at fault here in a way.

The consumer is at fault for not informing herself that while 'unlimited' meant the time that can spend online, but not the data they use. Most people tend to assume that 'unlimited' means unlimited without restrictions, especially when told so by a 'knowledgeable' sales associate. Most people don't bother to read the fine print either (I know, I was bitten once). She should've checked with AT&T regarding limits.

The sales associate is at fault as well for leading the consumer to believe that she was signing up for an 'unlimited' mobile connection. There are 2 possible scenarios here:
1. He was looking for the commission and took advantage of the consumer by informing her that she was signing up for an 'unlimited' plan. <- This happens more frequently than people think
2. He did not take the time to familiarize himself with AT&T's terms of service (bandwidth limits, speed limits, etc.) and just assumed that the consumer would read the details before signing. <- Which, I know as a fact, is what happens in a good number of cases. Both parties are more less not very bright.

AT&T for not clearly stating the bandwidth limit in place, and I'm referring to in your face type numbers that alot of cell providers tend to use. AT&T should've made the fact more clear regarding the limits and fees in place so that the consumer is aware of them before they sign the contract. Now, if the client signs the contract and racks up a large bill and tries to sue AT&T. they can say that the fact was clearly stated at the beginning in plain print before the client signed, thus voiding any suit. Another thing, AT&T should make sure that all participating retailers make sure to inform their customers of the limits and fees in place and conduct random checks to ensure compliancy. Sure it'll cost them a bit more, but in the end, it could help them in terms of customer satisfaction and avoid any unnecessary (and costly) grief.

That's the end of my take.

- mike_art03a
IT Technician
Gov't of Canada

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stabile007

Clearly people do not pay attention to what they sign.  In fact one of the comments here show that.  They went over seas and was surprised they were billed for their internet usage.  Well it should be clear that roaming overseas is extra.  In fact AT&T mentions it on their site and a simpel support search shows it in greater detail.  If people are too lazy to look at things plain in their face thats their problem not AT&T.  Every agent I inquired from about a data plan for my laptop made it clear there was a 5gb limit and the part in the brochure when it says "Included Data: 5GB" is pretty clear to me.

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ttinnell

I've got the same AT&T card.  When I signed up, they assured me it was unlimited bandwidth.  Then, AT&T suddenly came with a disclamer saying there is a 5GB cap and that it costs something like .99cents/MB for each MB over the cap.  I called AT&T and they told me the cap wasn't really enforced, and was just a guide.  I'm just waiting for when my own confrontation is going to occur!

Anyway, those prices and limits are *CLEARLY* designed to entrap the unaware!  Those who don't realize how small a MegaByte really is.  That's why I hate the phone companies.  I hope she wins!

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Svetty Parabols

A responsible company that somewhat cared for its customers would have a cap on how much a customer could spend before stopping the service and waiting to hear from the customer if the charges are valid or not.

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Vegan

Wow, people still shop at Radio Shack? Did she get some ham radio parts thrown in with that deal?

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HitmanHybrid

Same thing happened to me. I was overseas using my iphone's internet, whereby supposedly was told had free internet usage. Ended up getting a $3000 bill, to which I freaked. Had to pay those bastards.

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jakthebomb

I love the fact that AT&T expects that woman to be able to pay that much.  In this Economic "Crysis" to expect the average person to pay that much in overages is insane.  Actually AT&T will lose because they have been found to remove your unlimited data Plan from your iPhone and then give you a bill for $12,000.  look at youtube you will see what I mean.  Honestly how much does it cost AT&T to provide that Bandwidth?  I Bet much less than what they are charging her.  I have my own Web Server and it costs me $4.50 a Month for 200GB Bandwidth.  That is much less than what she used.

It is just a scam, because These days a 3 year old can use more bandwidth than AT&T gives you per month.  Wasn't the RIAA suing less $ per infringing song?

Well then I hope She wins because it is wrong for a company to charge that much, in one month.  No one would have bought that Netbook if they knew the possibility of getting a bill like that.

jakthebomb 

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Ur7MByh

I worked at an AT&T cell phone call center and it is clearly marked on the website:

http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/cell-phone-plan-details/?q_sku=sku2940229&q_planCategory=cat1460003

Everything is right there from how muc data is included to how much the additional charges are per KB either in the USA or Roaming. Since it's all there and on the contract she has no grounds for this accusation. Suck it up, do your research, read the contract, and get over it.

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comptech08

lol, you work at the call center whats ur opinion matter to the public.  It seems bias to your employer.  the customer support stinks along with other companies too.  I don't understand why companies don't at least try to have good customer care, i think they would have better business if they did.

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neo1piv14

He WORKED at a call center. That would seem to imply he doesn't any more, and there's no real bias there. Customer service sucks these days because there's no benefit to having it anymore. No matter how clearly you state something, people are always going to get pissed off with you and say you should have stated it clearly. The fact of the matter is that they can put practically anything they want in that contract, and if you sign it without reading it, you're a liar. When you sign something, you're making an official, legal statement saying "yes, I have read this, understand it, and agree to it." Of course they could make it easier for people to know when they go over their limit, but that's not their responsibility. It's not their responsibility to send people to a semester of IT 101 so they know how much a MB is. It's her money being spent, so you'd think she'd be the one who would make sure that she didn't spend too much of it.

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Saltboy

It is pretty simple, really.  She signed a contract without reading it.  She is fully at fault and must pay the bill.  Now if she is contesting the contract as being unfair as the law sees it, then she can delve into contract law and see what pops out.  Other than that, she is at fault.

 This screams average American not responsible for their actions when it is in their favor.

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AntiHero

It's got a fault on each end. On one hand, they should have used a way to explain how much a website is (on average), and explaining data terms with simple math (ex: 1gb = 1000mb, 1mb = 1000kb, 1kb = 1000b.) And then explained to her the fees and how the charges change exponentially, so on her side of things, she can say that they neglected to explain these things to her, and state that she is uneducated with computers. On their end they could say, it was up to her to understand what she was getting into while signing the contract, and therein making the contract void. It's a two way fight, however there's more people like her than there are of people like me and many of you MPC readers. So honestly, i don't think she should lose, but nor do i think she should get more than a waive of a fair fraction of the bill, and smarten up by researching products before you buy, especially new technology like this. It's still being developed to a point of simplicity, somewhat like Cellular phones, in time it will be monthly plans of (X)Hours/Minutes per month, with so much time for designated sites, or favorites. (that's where i see it going.)

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pbplaya87

It amazes me how many stories I read all the time about someone suing for something they are being charged because they "didn't know" about the charges or that they would get them.  It just goes to show how people have become so reliant on someone telling them everything instead of them doing just a little research and reading the fine print.  I can't tell you how many people sign contracts all the time at my work for credit cards or to sign up for something, and don't even read what they are signing.  I think if she wins it just allows us to be more ignorant of what we are doing and get away with it.

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Trooper_One

Further to what others have alluded to, yea, the average folks who are less computationally or mathematically inclined, will have trouble appreciate the differences between, bits, bytes, kilobytes, megabytes, gigabytes and terabytes.  Heck, even for me, after a few pictures sent over the phone, I lose track on what exactly my usage is.

 Too often, a sales associate will pitch the fact that a potential buyer will have 'unlimited' internet access.  It's only somewhat true as the fine print will indicate which 'partner' websites are of no charge, and the monthly limit is in the kilobyte range (some even further divide upload and downloads).

 For the average consumer, it's simply too easy to lose track or be confused about download limits on one's cellular internet usage plan.  The onus should be on the service providers to provide a usage tracker (not the ones by third party, installed and monthly reset by the customers) which shows a clear usage and provide warnings if you are approaching and/or are over the limits.

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dcrail

Paging Dr. Freud.

Aren't typos fun?

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bathtbgin

assuming my math is correct, she used about 10GB more than she was supposed to,  now i can understand billing someone extra for going over the bandwidth for the month since its only fair that they pay for what they used.   But that means if someone uses 3 times the ammount they are supposed to, then they have to pay 3 times what their bill would be, not 80 times that ammount.  She may have something here, even though they list overage costs on their site at $.00048 per KB the average consumer (especially someone buying a netbook from radioshack) has no idea what a KB is or how many are in a MB or GB.  If someone said  her, you can use 5GB per month, and if you go over that its an additional $480 per GB she probably would have walked out of RS or left the ATT modem in the box.  

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FoamysKing

i can say this from experience working for att at least half of the people who work there don't know about the cap or don't care and for over a year the policy with that cap at 5gb was that is was a soft limit witch meant that their was not a charge if you went over it if you were on the lover plan though there were overage charges 

 

well if they keep this stupid policy when lte come around then so much for  dropping cable providers for wireless providers

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Marsel

 wow. I think At&t is really gay for doing that to somebody that doesnt know shit. I don't know about you guys, but i don't have any money to give to At&t.

That's Right. YOU GOT PoWNeD! (not)

Proud owner of a Sony Vaion NS series, Ipod Touch 2g, and a PSP slim.

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