Looking to sue AT&T? Small claims court is an option, and you may have others…
At FairShake we’ve helped thousands of people with claims against AT&T and other big companies that ripped them off get millions of dollars in settlement offers… [continued below]
Some people say it’s hard getting a refund from AT&T.
But if you haven’t gotten your problem solved, you’re not alone.
So what should you know if you want to sue? First you may think there would be tons of class action lawsuits against AT&T to look into. But the truth is more complicated.
Companies like AT&T add what’s called an arbitration clause to their contract. It gives them the right to force legal claims out of most US courts. But your AT&T contract can’t take away your right to sue entirely.
Here’s what you can do…
The first way to sue AT&T is through consumer arbitration. If your contract has an arbitration clause it gives you the right take legal action against AT&T through an officially-designated, independent dispute process that’s not a court and won’t require showing up in person. This can be a better option for a lot of regular people.
The second way to sue AT&T, if you want to avoid the arbitration system, is to use Small Claims Court. While their contract may keep lawsuits out of state and federal courts, they can’t stop you from pursuing the small claims process. If you’re ready to sue AT&T on your own, read on below:
Ready to sue AT&T in small claims court? Small claims courts are only for certain types of claims, so your first step is to make sure your claim can be filed. There are two things you need to pay attention to:
The amount of money: Every small claims court sets a maximum dollar size for the claim you can bring. In most states it’s either $5000 or $10,000, but it can be as low as $2,500 (in Kentucky and Rhode Island). You can find a list of all 50 states’ monetary limits here.
The type of relief: There are two types of awards that you can seek in a lawsuit – monetary (a dollar value payment) and equitable (any non-monetary request). Most small claims courts can only grant monetary awards.
If your claim doesn’t fall within the limits of your state’s small claims court, you’ll have to arbitrate your claim instead. We can help you with that.
Most small claims courts require that you ask the person you’re suing (the “defendant”) to fix your problem voluntarily before you file your claim. So if you want to sue AT&T in small claims court, you need to send them a demand letter first.
Your demand letter can be simple and straightforward – tell AT&T who you are (your name, address, phone number and account number), what the problem is, and what you want from them. The whole letter can be a few sentences – remember that you are just checking a box before you file your actual claim.
When you’re done writing, you need to mail a hard copy of the letter, preferably as certified mail or some other service that allows you to confirm delivery, to:
Legal Department – Notice of Dispute
208 S. Akard
Dallas, Texas 75202
If you would like examples of demand letters or more information about how to write them, you can find an excellent guide here.
(This address is taken from the subscriber agreement here.)
In order to sue AT&T in small claims court, you’re going to need to fill out some paper work.
Each state has a set of forms that need to be filled out to file a claim, and sometimes counties will provide additional forms. The correct forms for your location will be available for free on your state court’s website.
Make sure you fill out enough forms – most states that require you to file forms by mail or in-person (see Step 3) will ask for 3 or 4 copies. If you don’t have the right number, they will not accept your claim.
When you’re done filling out the court forms, it’s time to give those forms to the court. This process, called “filing” can be a bit tricky.
Many courts will require you to physically come to the courthouse during specific hours and days to hand-deliver the forms to the court’s clerk. Other courts may allow you to file by mail, fax or (for a few courts) online.
All courts will require you to pay a filing fee before they allow your to sue AT&T in small claims. This fee, which will be published on your court’s website, can sometimes be waved if you are a low income plaintiff.
When you file your forms, the court clerk will provide you with a stamped copy of the forms and a court date. Keep it safe and bring it with you on the day of your hearing.
If you’ve made it this far – good work! Suing AT&T in small claims is a long and tough process.
Now that you’ve filed the papers required to start your case against AT&T, you need to tell AT&T that it’s been sued. This is a called “serving” AT&T. To do this, you need to deliver a copy of your filed papers to AT&T.
Look at your court’s website for instructions on how to properly deliver your forms to AT&T, or search for “[your state] small claims service of process”. Courts have many strange rules about how to serve a defendant, and your claim will be dropped if you do not follow them perfectly. So be careful!
When the court clerk gives you a court date (after you file your forms), make sure to put it on your calendar.
Make sure you know which courthouse to go to. Bring your copy of your filed forms, and any other evidence that backs up your case against AT&T.
Sometimes, AT&T will not show up to oppose you. If that happens, take advantage of the situation to focus on your side of the story.