AT&T, over the past month, has begun sending (at least) hundreds of customers who disputed the Material Changes to the Terms of Service, to debt collectors.
This year, AT&T has made two significant modifications to the terms of service. One changed modified the terms of binding arbitration, making them more favorable for AT&T. The other change disregarded the FCC Comcast/BitTorrent ruling, and imposed non-net neutral terms on customers. Of which, customers are explicitly prohibited from broadcasting video, with services such as Qik. Normally, under rules established by CTIA (which all carriers agreed to), customers should be allowed to be released from their contracts, should they chose to disagree with these changes.
The company failed to provide PhoneNews.com, following our previous reporting, with when exactly it informed customers that AT&T only believed there were two possible material changes which could be made to the terms of service. AT&T now says that it believes that there are only two possible changes to the Terms of Service, which they believe are material; either a reduction of service in your area, or a reduction in airtime minutes on your plan.
As such, consumers were left with a painful decision: Either accept the terms, or cancel service and refuse to pay the termination fees… leaving negative balances, and the fear of debt collectors.
As of our previous reporting, AT&T confirmed that it was “not aware when this added interpretation was relayed to customers.” But that it was “researching, and would get back to us.” Months have passed with no answer, despite repeated requests from PhoneNews.com and others for their promised explanation.
With AT&T’s lack of response, and zero information in the Terms of Service that would corroborate such an unconscionably small interpretation, AT&T appears to be taking the gloves off to enforce its newfound terms.
Specifically, the company is not waiting for an FCC ruling, on any consumer complaints regarding the disregarding of its material change clause. Instead, it is serving those customers with debt collectors.
Customers in this class are being called by debt collectors, and we have received multiple reports that some of AT&T’s debt collectors are even choosing to violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. While that’s no surprise to consumer advocates at PhoneNews.com, the matter continues to be compounded.
PhoneNews.com continues to encourage customers who disagree with AT&T being able to materially change their material changes clause, retroactively, to file an FCC complaint.
Even if you were unaware of these changes, and are now locked in to the Qik-banning, arbitration-bending clauses, an FCC complaint helps inform the FCC that this problem is serious, and how you felt about being told you couldn’t cancel service if you disagreed. Per our stopwatch, an FCC complaint only takes 10 minutes to file.