State Supreme Court and FCC Side With Phone Customers

These added fees can amount to a tremendous amount of money. In one of the earlier cases that we had, the Universal Connectivity charge that involved AT&T Wireless, the company made over $200 million, easily, on that charge.

In the most recent case, Peck v. AT&T Mobility, he says the estimate is between $15 million and $20 million. There’s no word yet on whether AT&T Mobility will refund the charges. The company contended that it is regulated by federal law, not state, but in an earlier decision, the 9th Circuit Court said that doesn’t apply to billing practices. A similar lawsuit against Sprint is pending.

Critics say the FCC rules are at least a decade too late. Breskin says he’s seeing less federal oversight to protect consumers – and all manner of businesses, including banks and airlines, pushing the same types of limits as the phone companies.

“These different industries have become very aggressive about trying to recoup overhead through added charges. I mean, they like to present seemingly-low costs for their service, but then tack on these added charges after the fact, which just drives up the cost to the consumer.”

The lesson, he adds, is to read the fine print on your bills, at least periodically, and request explanations of what you don’t understand.