FCC orders AT&T to refund overcharged "grandfathered" data users


Late Tuesday afternoon, the FCC announced it signed a consent decree (PDF) with AT&T in which the telecom company promised to refund consumers who had been unfairly pushed from a pay-as-you-go wireless data plan to a monthly data plan. AT&T instated the monthly data plan in 2009, but promised customers who were already buying wireless data through AT&T that they would be "grandfathered" into the new pricing structure, thus keeping their lower data rates.

The FCC says it spent a year investigating "complaints that the company switched certain consumers to its mandatory monthly wireless data plans even though it had promised they could retain their existing pay-as-you-go data plans." The commission said AT&T applied the new price structure to people who had replaced their phones under warranty or insurance, or moved to new areas of the US. AT&T specifically promised not to enforce price tiers on those customers.