Consumer Activism Puts AT&T’s Unfair Service Agreement On Hold

Consumers succeeded in putting AT&T’s unfair and one-sided service agreement on hold by standing up, speaking out and fighting back.

For Immediate Release From The Utility Reform Network

The agreement, mailed to millions of Californians who depend on AT&T for phone service, requires customers to give up numerous legal rights in order to purchase service from AT&T.

TURN today announced that consumers had succeeded in putting AT&T’s unfair and one-sided service agreement on hold, at least for the time being. The agreement, mailed to millions of Californians who depend on AT&T for phone service, requires customers to give up numerous legal rights in order to purchase service from AT&T. Over 1300 consumers have signed a petition demanding that the California Public Utilities Commission put a stop to the scheme, and the CPUC recently did so, suspending the agreement for up to 120 days.

"This victory is the result of consumers standing up, speaking out and fighting back," said TURN executive director Mark Toney. Toney said the legal challenges filed by TURN and the CPUC’s Division of Ratepayer Advocates were part of a broader consumer response including the petition, letters and personal testimonies presented at CPUC meetings. "Consumers said no to this agreement in no uncertain terms," said Toney, "and they said it loudly."

Consumers speaking at a recent CPUC meeting complained that the agreement:

  • Buries customer rights in a 2,500 page "guidebook."
  • Protects AT&T when customers are victims of cramming and slamming.
  • Allows AT&T right to change terms and prices unilaterally, without prior notice to customers.
  • Eliminates consumers’ rights to file class action lawsuits.

"AT&T continues to hold the lion’s share of the California phone market, and should not be allowed to trample on customers’ rights with impunity," Toney said. "This agreement cannot and should not be imposed on customers in its current form. The Commission must act to insure that customers have understandable information and don’t have to give up basic rights in order to purchase something as essential as phone service. Consumers are demanding that the CPUC reinstate a Consumer Bill of Rights that protects them and keeps phone companies accountable."