AT&T Fined $700,000 by FCC for switching Customer Data Plans

AT&T, the largest provider of mobile telephony and fixed telephony in the United States, has agreed to pay $700,000 to the Federal Communications Commission for switching customers to its mandatory monthly wireless data plans. The switching started in September 2009 and happened to customers who were promised they could keep their current pay-as-you-go data plans.

According to The Consumerist, this happened to those with devices replaced “through insurance or warranty.” In addition to the $700,000 penalty, AT&T will offer refunds to affected customers and these could be as much as $25 to $30 per month.

“Today’s action sends a clear signal that wireless carriers can’t wrongfully charge consumers,’’ FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said on Tuesday.

Speaking to CNET News, Marty Richter, a spokesman for AT&T, said the issue involved less than 0.03 percent of the company’s wireless customers. Richter also said AT&T identified and corrected the problem by November 2010. Still, the FCC requires that AT&T search its records and notify customers through their bills that they can return to pay-as-you-go plans.