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It’s been nine years since AT&T introduced the ridiculous “management fee” it tacks onto customers’ bills each month. Initially, the fee was under a dollar, but in 2018 the airline increased the fee to $1.99 per month. BTIG Research analyst Walter Piecyk noted at the time that the fee would increase AT&T’s annual revenue by $800 million a year. There was hope that a class action lawsuit could force AT&T to reconsider its charges. but The edge As reported this week, it looks like the wearer will get little more than a slap on the hand.
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AT&T lawsuit ends with disappointing settlement
The complaint was originally filed on June 20, 2019. After nearly three years of deliberation, the plaintiffs and AT&T agreed to settle the case. If a judge grants the request, the lawsuit between Vianu and AT&T Mobility will end with the airline paying just $14 million to set up a settlement fund for affected customers. When The edge points out that customers are likely to get back less than 10% of what they paid AT&T. Meanwhile, AT&T may continue to charge the same fee.
Subject to the judge approving the current settlement agreement, the plaintiffs will receive a payment of between $15 and $29. This represents a reimbursement of approximately 8.3% to 16.1% of the average total fees they paid during the tuition period.
How does AT&T get away with this?
The settlement agreement indicates that this is a “strong outcome” for affected customers. Here is the rationale plaintiffs have offered for a settlement with AT&T:
While plaintiffs believe they can overcome AT&T’s defenses and challenges, they note the risks, hurdles and delays that plaintiffs and the settlement group face if this matter proceeds in litigation. The proposed settlement offers significant financial relief to the comparison group and allows them to avoid the risk of unfavorable and, in some cases, dispositive decisions on these and other issues. The comparison also offers another important benefit – instant relief. Continued litigation would likely take several more years to resolve given the remaining issues and the likelihood of further appeals.
Three years is certainly relatively fast considering how long these class action lawsuits can drag on. That being said, this wasn’t the result AT&T customers wanted. The carrier will continue to charge its nonsensical management fees and subscribers will continue to pay them. In fact, don’t be surprised if they rise again in the near future.
“We dispute the allegations in this lawsuit because we clearly disclose all fees charged to our customers,” AT&T spokesman Seth Bloom said. “However, we have decided to settle this case to avoid lengthy and expensive litigation.”
Peer group members who are current AT&T subscribers will receive payments as automatic credits to their AT&T accounts. Former AT&T customers receive checks in the mail. Once the judge approves the settlement, you can read more about it on this page.
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See the original version of this article on BGR.com