|(Updated with statement from AT&T) Late Tuesday, the FCC announced that it is compelling AT&T to recompense customers who had been forced from a pay-as-you-go wireless data plan to a monthly contracted plan. The FCC reports that it has spent a year investigating consumer complaints, and that AT&T had applied the new monthly plan to customers who had moved or replaced devices under warranty or insurance.
AT&T has agreed to issue the refunds up to $30 per month for the unwilling shift, and will pay $700,000 to the US Treasury "voluntarily." According to the FCC's statement about the agreementm "AT&T has also agreed to an extensive compliance plan, which includes consumer notification, training of customer care representatives, and periodic compliance reports."
Customers will be informed on a future bill if they qualify for the payments. Any existing devices that can be replaced on the "grandfathered" pay-as-you-go plan list will be identified, and the consumer will be allowed to move qualified devices back to the previous data plan or stay on the monthly plan.
Update: An AT&T spokesperson noted that the decree affects less than three in 10,000 wireless customers, and most had been contacted and refunded at that time. In addition, the spokesperson said that "based on a review of our refund process, we believe a vast majority of those customers affected by the billing error have already been made whole. But as part of the decree, we’ll be providing a bill-page notice to affected customers, offering refunds, and giving them the option to return to a data pay-per-use plan, or to have a data block applied to their phone."