Keith Loria Jul. 19, 2010, 3:22pm
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Legal Newsline) - Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum has reached a settlement with a cell phone company that allegedly billed consumers incorrectly.
T-Mobile, McCollum alleges, used unauthorized third-party billing, which included charges for "free" ringtones, wallpaper and other content that appeared on bills without customers ordering them or realizing they would result in monthly charges.
McCollum alleges that thousands of Floridians were being charged for mobile content on their cell phone bills that they didn't authorize or desire, including music, horoscopes and other material that is usually offered for free, but ultimately costs as much as $19.99 in recurring monthly charges. The bill charges often appear under indiscernible names, McCollum says, such as "OpenMarket," "M-Qube" or "M-Blox."
Under terms of the settlement, T-Mobile will pay $600,000 to reimburse the state for the costs of its investigation and to help fund the efforts of the CyberFraud Section. The company will also continue issuing credits or refunds to those who alert them of the mischarges. T-Mobile must also provide a clear and conspicuous notice to all consumers about refund requirements.
McCollum has been battling the mobile industry over this "free" content for sometimes and has established standards that T-Mobile has agreed to comply with.
The company is prohibited from using the word "free" without clear disclosure of what it costs might be included. Additionally, all content providers and advertisers are also required to clearly and conspicuously disclose the true cost of cell phone content.