This could be big.
This is a tough time to be AT&T. They're late to the market on LTE, and Verizon has just bridged the simultaneous voice and data gap. The iPhone gap is next. And now, a new lawsuit alleges that AT&T has been overbilling its customers on data usage.
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The lawsuit itself compares it to a fuel pump rigged to register 9/10ths of a gallon as 1 gallon. An independent consulting firm was hired by the plaintiff, Patrick Hendricks, to carry out a two-month study on AT&T's billing. They found that traffic was routinely overstated anywhere from 7% to 14%. "Some instances" found overreporting of 300%.
AT&T also has a nasty tendency to bill for traffic on lines that see no use. At least one un-connected journalist can corroborate that much of the allegations.
Most worrying was the finding that AT&T's billing system has some...irregularities. It "often" pushes charges for data transactions over to the wrong billing cycle. So yeah, a few parents around the world may owe their children some apologies. Fortunately, AT&T might also owe them some money.
While the individual user is unlikely to have seen significant charges from this alleged bad behavior, the potential cumulative impact on AT&T's revenue may be huge. The carrier responded quickly to the allegations,
"Transparent and accurate billing is a top priority for AT&T. In fact, we've created tools that let our customers check their voice and data usage at any time during their billing cycle to help eliminate bill surprises. We have only recently learned of the complaint, but I can tell you that we intend to defend ourselves vigorously."
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Hopefully the truth will come out early on in what will inevitably be a long, preposterously expensive legal battle. Anyone betting on "settlement"?