Wireless company will reimburse Montana consumers

Nick Rees Jan. 27, 2010, 3:26pm


HELENA, Mont. (Legal Newsline) - Montana customers who abruptly lost service when a Minnesota-based wireless provider went out of business will be reimbursed for their losses, Montana Attorney General Steve Bullock has announced.

AirTEL Wireless, which operated only in Montana despite being based in Minnesota, shut off service unexpectedly in February. Despite knowing that it was going out of business, AirTEL accepted money for services it knew it would never deliver up until the minute it closed.

"AirTEL left Montana consumers high and dry. Even when the company knew it was going out of business, it continued to take money for services it knew it would never deliver, and that's not right," Bullock said.

A lawsuit was filed against the company by attorneys in Bullock's office who specialize in consumer protection, ending in a settlement that will see refunds totaling $76,956.47 returned beginning this week to nearly 2,000 Montana consumers.

"I'm glad that we've been able to secure refunds for the many Montanans who were left high and dry when AirTEL shut its doors and turned its towers off without warning," Bullock said.

"And the news of this settlement should also serve as a reminder to companies that think they can break our laws and scam Montanans - we're paying attention and we will take action."

Bullock had previously taken AirTEL to court for violating Montana's Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act. The company agreed to a settlement in that suit and repaid consumers based on when in the four weeks prior to the company closing they had purchased service.

More News