After a long pursuit from the Federal Trade Commission, AT&T, the world’s largest telecommunications company has agreed to a $60 million settlement with the FTC over its fake unlimited data ‘bait and switch’ scam. The scam saw AT&T baiting subscribers with unlimited data, trapped them in multi-year contracts with punishing termination fees, and then scammed them by choking off their access unless they moved to a more expensive plan.
“As detailed in the Commission’s complaint, AT&T wanted the rewards without the risks, so it turned its offer of an “unlimited” data plan into a bait and switch scam that victimised millions of Americans,” FTC commissioner, Rohit Chopra said in a statement. “AT&T’s bait and switch scam is a good window into the many harms that result from dominant companies operating without the discipline of meaningful competition. Their market power, financial resources, and one-sided information gives them a license to ignore their own contractual obligations while aggressively enforcing every little clause in the fine print. Consumers can accept the bad deal, walk away, or fight it, but each choice carries a cost, with dominant firms prevailing almost every time.”
While $60 million is a small price to pay for AT&T, who generated total revenue of $170.8 billion in 2018, the decision of the FTC will go some way in bringing relief to the 3.5 million Americans who fell victim to this scam.