Top ISP’s Facing Litigation, Consumers Should Take Notice

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AT&T is facing a class action lawsuit that began in 2005.  The lawsuit which was filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court was recently certified as a class action lawsuit.  AT&T has notified the circuit court and requested an appeal over the class certification decision.

The main issue of the case are complaints from AT&T DSL customers who say the company could not match the speeds promised in their marketing.  The lawsuit claims AT&T put artificial caps on the lines of some customers, which made it impossible to reach even the minimum promised speed.  In effect these customers were paying high speed prices for low speed delivery.  According to court filings the “defendants (AT&T) concede there were capped or ‘optimized’ (lines) and can, by their own records, identify by name, address and phone number every month in which a DSL customer was capped”.

This is a case that could put more focus on the top ISP’s as the net neutrality debate gains more voices on both sides of the aisle.  Top ISP’s want the average consumer to believe we do not need regulations to encourage a neutral internet.  As more cases like this one become the norm, consumers will recognize the need for regulation and neutrality and will encourage their representatives to support the issue.

AT&T is not alone in this area of deception to the consumer.  Verizon is now being questioned by the FCC about the recent rise in early termination fees when customers cancel their subscriptions.  In July 2008 Verizon paid $21 million to settle a class action suit against the company.  The suit claimed Verizon’s  Early Termination Fees (ETF’) were excessive and unfair.  They never admitted any wrong-doing and are now attempting to, once again, take advantage of their current customers by charging twice the normal amount for an ETF, rising from $175 to $350.

Sprint and T-Mobile have settled similar suits while continuing the same business practices.   Top ISP’s have had an unregulated environment to work in for far too long.  Consumers need to take notice of these practices and require these companies conduct business in a fair and equal manner.

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