Local News

N.C. Phone Customers Overcharged By AT&T

Posted July 1, 2004

— Officials claim thousands of North Carolina phone customers were overcharged by AT&T, even though some of them never signed up for AT&T service.

Chris Finch said he does not ever remember signing up for AT&T phone service. When he called about a mystery bill, he got a sales pitch instead of an explanation.

"He told me I should have some long-distance service. I have a cell phone, calling cards. I don't need it," he said.

Finch got a refund for a long distance service he did not order, but the following two months, he got two more bills. The state Attorney General's Office said some AT&T customers had an extra service charge on their statements.

Others, like Finch, never signed up and still got a bill. Now, they will share more than $500,000 in refunds or credits from AT&T.

Eighty people complained to the state Attorney General's Office, but later the state learned nearly 50,000 people were wrongly charged. State Attorney General Roy Cooper said that is why you should go over your phone bill just as if it were your bank statement.

AT&T said it was a computer glitch involving a new monthly charge that should only have gone to some customers. Cooper does not believe the overbilling was intentional, still, he expressed concern to the phone carrier putting consumers on the spot.

"AT&T or any other company, when someone has a question about a bill, they shouldn't be trying to sell people something," he said.

Finch got a refund, but to get the matter resolved once and for all, he had to pay $3 for his local provider to cancel the AT&T long distance he never ordered.

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