A California company has filed a class action lawsuit charging that it and other telephone customers were unlawfully billed by AT&T; through long-distance charges added to their local phone bills.
The Allen Lund Company, a national transportation broker based in La Canada, California, is not an AT&T; customer and did not use AT&T; long-distance services, but repeatedly was assessed AT&T; long-distance charges through its local phone bill by BellSouth, the company charged.
The problem is not confined to California. On April 23, Florida Attorney General Charlie Crist issued a consumer advisory warning telephone customers that AT&T; long-distance charges are being improperly added to local phone bills.
"According to AT&T;, their records verify that I've not been a customer since 2002, yet I get a bill every month for $7.56 for a telephone number that I haven't had in over two years," Pamela of Poquoson VA told ConsumerAffairs.com, one of hundreds of complaints the consumer site has received about AT&T slamming.
"I switched my service to the Verizon Freedom Package. ATT billed me anyway on the closed account. I tried to clear this up for 8 months. They just kept billing me at a non-ATT consumer rate," said Alfred of Brick NJ.
AT&T; attributes the improper billing to a computer problem that has affected about one million customers nationally, many of whom are not current customers of AT&T.;
On April 27, 2004, the Florida Attorney General released a public letter to John Polumbo, president and chief executive officer of AT&T;, demanding that AT&T; implement "immediate corrections" to AT&T;'s automated customer service system. AT&T;'s automated system prevents callers from speaking with live customer service representatives and obstructs consumers from receiving refunds for the improper long-distance charges.
The class action lawsuit was filed on August 15, 2003 and asserts claims against AT&T; for unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business practices in violation of the California Unfair Competition Law, for unjust enrichment, and for money had and received.
According to the complaint, AT&T; unlawfully bills some consumers who are not AT&T; customers through their local phone bills, and AT&T;'s computerized billing system continues to assess charges on phone lines not subscribed to AT&T; long-distance service even though AT&T;'s own records indicate that there is no AT&T; call activity on the phone lines or that AT&T; does not provide service to such lines.