When was the last time you read your AT&T contract? If you answered “never,” then may I suggest you take two minutes to look this over. That’s right, unbeknownst to you, you just lost the ability to enter into a class action lawsuit against the mobile phone carrier. High five!
Right, so the language in question is:
Any arbitration under this Agreement will take place on an individual basis; class arbitrations and class actions are not permitted.
In other words, thanks to the new wording of the AT&T contract, if you feel like entering into a class action lawsuit against AT&T, well, you can’t. It’s all there in black and white.
The thing is—and this is based on like 10 minutes of research—any change to a contract that benefits one part over the other represents a chance for the other party to cancel the contract without facing any penalties or fees. So, if you don’t like the fact that you now cannot join a class action lawsuit against AT&T, ring ’em up and say, “Yes, I’d like to cancel my contract, please. Here’s your rubbish iPhone back.”
AT&T has not recently made any changes in its terms of service regarding our arbitration clause. This approach has been in effect since Jan. 2001. We have made minor changes to our arbitration clause – most recently in Jan. 2009 – but those changes have been to the benefit of the consumer.
· It is worth noting that this approach – an arbitration clause with a class action waiver — is standard for the wireless industry.
*We continue to believe that a consumer is better off pursuing a claim under our arbitration clause, rather than pursuing a class action. Arbitration is typically a fast, cost-effective, and pro-consumer way to address disputes, and AT&T’s arbitration agreement is among the most consumer-friendly in the nation.
*A federal judge in West Virginia, even before recent improvements to AT&T’s arbitration policy, praised it as “unusually consumer-centered.”
*Our current arbitration clause calls for the company — if it does not settle a consumer complaint and the consumer receives an award that is greater than the company’s settlement offer — to pay the greater amount of either the arbitration, or $10,000. This is what changed in Jan. 2009; previously the amount was $5,000.
*Likewise, if the consumer has used a lawyer in winning an arbitration case and is awarded more than the company’s settlement offer, the company would pay two times the lawyers’ fees. Finally, we pay the entire cost of the arbitration, except if a customer is claiming $75,000 or more.