AT&T will pay $60 million to settle the government’s allegation that it misled customers of unlimited-data plans by slowing down service for heavy users.
The Federal Trade Commission said Tuesday that AT&T will automatically provide partial refunds to customers who signed up for unlimited wireless plans before 2011.
“AT&T promised unlimited data—without qualification—and failed to deliver on that promise,” said Andrew Smith, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “While it seems obvious, it bears repeating that Internet providers must tell people about any restrictions on the speed or amount of data promised.”
The FTC sued AT&T in 2014 for not clearly letting customers know that if they used up a certain amount of data, AT&T would slow their speeds so much that web browsing was almost impossible. It said then that AT&T had throttled at least 3.5 million customers.
The agency says AT&T is required to say prominently if data speeds or amounts are restricted.
Today, AT&T’s website says it may slow speeds of unlimited plans after a certain amount of data is used.
“The $60 million paid by AT&T as part of the settlement will be deposited into a fund that the company will use to provide partial refunds to both current and former customers who had originally signed up for unlimited plans prior to 2011 but were throttled by AT&T,” the FTC said.
“Affected consumers will not be required to submit a claim for the refunds. Current AT&T customers will automatically receive a credit to their bills while former customers will receive checks for the refund amount they are owed.”