Can you hear, ummm pay me now?

Cramming a phone used to mean this.


Not anymore. Since 2009 cramming has meant service providers (like AT&T and T-Mobile) stuffing your cell phone bill with charges you did not authorize.

Lotsa blah blah blah later AT&T finally said “uncle” on Wednesday to a cramming lawsuit filed against them by the dynamic duo of the FTC and the FCC.


Now AT&T will pay $105 million bucks in fines and refunds. You may stand to get a little green back if you were a victim.

Victim of what? Since cell phone use and high phone bills have become as ubiquitous as beer in a frat house you may not have noticed it. But cramming generally showed up as a $9.99 charge each month for fun stuff like ring tones and horoscopes, called premium text services on the bill.

The only prob? Millions of customers didn’t order it! The bills didn’t reflect the fact that these were actually 3rd party charges AND that AT&T would be keeping 35% of that money in it’s own coffers. If that happened to you, go here to file for a refund.  Good luck to ya and God speed.

Nothing wrong with AT&T trying to make a profit but there is something stinky about this whole thing. If my cell phone bill is any indication then the exploding mobile industry oughta be lucrative enough without my service provider lying, cheating and stealing.

AT&T did everything in their power to hide the cramming charges and then grossly limited the refunds to any customer diligent enough to realize what was happening. Nice.

Biz blogger Michael Lindenberger says that Some 20 million customers are caught up each year in so-called cramming, the practice of adding deceptive charges on monthly wireless bills. Twenty. Million. Customers.

You can read more of the high blood pressure inducing details here and you’ll be thrilled to see that AT&T says it had ALREADY stopped the cramming practice. Hmmmmm.

AT&T’s “we’ve seen the light” timing seems to coincide, oddly enough with T-Mobile being sued for the same thing earlier this year. Coinky Dink much?

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