AT&T agreed to pay $60 million to the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to finally end a legal spat over allegations it slowed data rates on its unlimited plans without adequately informing customers.
The FTC said the settlement money will be used to issue partial refunds to current and former AT&T customers who signed up for unlimited plans prior to 2011, but had their speeds throttled. Current customers will automatically receive a credit on their monthly bill, while former customers will be sent cheques.
Going forward, the deal permanently bars AT&T from making claims about speeds or the amount of data offered by its service plans without “clearly and conspicuously” disclosing relevant restrictions on the tariffs. Specifically, disclosures cannot be “buried in fine print or hidden behind hyperlinks”.
In a statement, FTC Commissioner Rohit Chopra called for stringent enforcement of the agreement to protect consumers: “Given AT&T’s aggressive enforcement of arbitration clauses that ban consumers from taking the company to court, it is critical to be vigilant in our oversight of AT&T under this order.”
The FTC’s complaint against AT&T dates back to 2014, when it filed a lawsuit over the operator’s throttling practices.
AT&T questioned the FTC’s authority, but the regulator eventually won a back-and-forth battle in the courts in February 2018, after which AT&T said it would pursue a settlement rather than appeal.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back