More Refunds in AT&T Billing Error Case

AT&T agreed to refund consumers in Minnesota who received erroneous bills to partially settle a lawsuit with the state attorney general, the company said in a statement yesterday.

Refunds will go to 33,000 Minnesota consumers, according to the Associated Press. However, the state may continue to press its civil charges against AT&T.

Minnesota attorney general Mike Hatch's office did not return a phone call yesterday. But Hatch told the Associated Press he would pursue the lawsuit against AT&T and seek civil penalties as a deterrent against future abuses.

AT&T said it would continue to work with Hatch to resolve remaining issues. AT&T settled a lawsuit with the New York attorney general's office Wednesday over similar billing errors, agreeing to refund 311,000 New Yorkers and pay $400,000 in civil penalties.

AT&T has faced accusations of a “back-door” marketing scheme involving the erroneous bills. The company began charging an extra fee for customers of its basic, direct-dialed long distance plan, but some consumers who didn't have the plan got charged — including some who weren't AT&T customers at all.

Consumers reported receiving high-pressure upsells when they called AT&T to complain, causing some to think that they had to upgrade their plans to avoid the charges. This led to suggestions that AT&T issued the erroneous bills on purpose to generate inbound calls and avoid the national no-call list. AT&T has denied those accusations.

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