Victory For Cell Phone Owners: AT&T Suit To Proceed

Posted: May 27 2009, 9:00am CDT | by , Updated: Aug 11 2010, 2:35pm CDT , in Technology News


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Gather 'round, dear readers, it's time for a story.

Once upon a time there were two corporations. One of them was named AT&T Wireless, and the other was named Cingular. For years the two companies were able to coexist in relative peace, gorging themselves on the fruitful bounty of a booming market. But then, in 2004, things went awry. The economy did a faceplant and AT&T started to weaken.

Cingular took advantage of AT&T's weakness and gobbled the older company up wholesale. The Federal Government wasn't very happy with this, but Cingular promised them that they would take care of all of AT&T's old customers. In fact they even promised to give all sorts of nice things to their new clients. This, of course, was utter bull.

As soon as the Federal Regulators turned their backs, Cingular set to work dismantling AT&T's wireless infastructure. Soon all of ATT's customers noticed that their phones now barely had any connectivity. If they wanted to actually have working cell phones again, they'd be forced to pay to switch over to Cingular's network. Coincidentally, pretty much every Cingular plan was more expensive than the equivalent AT&T plans.

For most companies that would've been enough screwing over their customers for one year. But Cingular was a special breed of corporation, and they -really- enjoyed soaking their clients for every possible dime. They started charging $175 "early termination fees" for any AT&T customers who tried to escape Cingular's sinister web by breaking their contracts. Some customers couldn't afford to break their contracts, so they decided to just wait until they ran out.

Cingular anticipated that; they tacked on an extra $4.99 monthly charge for any clients who stuck with their old plans. That's right, they actually CHARGED people for cell phones that had virtually zero connectivity. Then, to add insult to injury, they changed their name from Cingular to AT&T.

Thankfully, some old AT&T customers weren't willing to take that lying down. They lawyered up and filed a class action lawsuit against Cingular/AT&T. Cingular responded by stating that, due to a clause in their cell phone contracts, Cingular/AT&T customers were not allowed to join class action suits against the megacorporation. Instead, they would all have to bring suit individually.

The ornery customers brought their case to the District Court of Washington, where District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez struck down the clause as "unconscionable". Now the suit against AT&T can go forward, and thousands of wronged consumers can get justice. For once, it looks like a big corp might actually have to pay the price for their vile business practices.

David hasn't quite slain Goliath, but he's at least given him one hell of a black eye.

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<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/5" rel="author">Robert Evans</a>
The excitement about new smartphones, tablets and anything mobile drive Robert to unearth the latest rumors and developments in this fast moving space. He adopted 4G as soon as it become available and knows where the mobile market is going.
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