Here's how you can make AT&T pay for its controversial admin fee... in California

Here's how you can make AT&T pay for its controversial admin fee... in California
While T-Mobile hasn't completely stayed true to its promise from several years back to get rid of taxes and fees, it's easy to understand why said promise made such a splash in the first place, undoubtedly contributing to the "Un-carrier's" rise to the silver medal position in terms of subscribers among the big three US wireless service providers.

The major carrier Magenta surpassed shortly after its Sprint acquisition just so happens to charge a number of dubious fees every month, with one in particular drawing a lot of criticism, frustration, and ultimately legal action over the years.

Don't expect to get rich here

A drawn-out lawsuit filed in June 2019 is finally nearing an end, as AT&T recently agreed to "establish a non-reversionary common Settlement Fund" of $14 million. While that may sound like quite a bit of money to cough up as a consequence of a so-called "admin fee" of just a couple of bucks a month, said bucks have surely added up to many more millions in AT&T's coffers since 2019 alone.

After removing attorneys' fees and other legal expenses from the settlement equation, the $14 million is expected to result in payments of around $15 to $29 for every California AT&T customer who'll remember to file a claim on this website by October 29.

Unfortunately, the settlement only applies to California residents, but on the bright side, both current and past postpaid AT&T subscribers should be eligible for the same financial compensation. This will not be impacted in any way by your time with the carrier or when exactly you may have decided to ditch AT&T in favor of a less deceptive competitor, although it's obviously worth keeping in mind that the administrative fee at issue here was (quietly) introduced in 2013.

Said quietness was naturally the main reason behind the widespread customer dissatisfaction that led to this class action, although AT&T argued the fee was "adequately disclosed" on everyone's bills. Because so many people continued to use its services long after presumably noticing the fee on their initial bills, the carrier refused to pay more than $14 million in total to make the lawsuit go away.

Could have been better, could have been worse

Meanwhile, the class action plaintiffs and their counsel believe the settlement to be in everyone's "best interests", essentially fearing that AT&T could ultimately win the case and pay no penalty whatsoever or simply continue to delay the end of an already three-year-long legal saga. 

Your $15 to $29 possible payments are estimated to cover anywhere between 6 and 11 months of "average" admin fees, which is certainly better than nothing... but does little to solve the core issue of this controversy. Although undoubtedly misleading, this fee (and others like it) are here to stay, and if AT&T is bothered by this $14 million expense, there's nothing to stop it from increasing said fee and recouping its loss in a matter of months.

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Even worse, current AT&T customers looking to file a claim and get a "refund" of 6 to 11 months of administrative fees will receive said refund via "automatic account credit", from where the carrier can then easily take the money back by making up other taxes.

Former AT&T subscribers, on the other hand, should get a check in the mail... eventually, unless of course, you choose to opt out of the settlement by September 29 with a request for exclusion (more details here), in which case you reserve your right to separately sue AT&T in the same matter and ask for more cash.

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