In just the last decade or so AT&T has been fined $18.6 million for helping rip off programs for the hearing impaired; fined $10.4 million for ripping off a program for low-income families; fined $105 million for helping “crammers” rip off their customers; fined $60 million for lying to customers about the definition of “unlimited” data; and accused of ripping off U.S. schools for decades.
The company’s also no stranger to using sleazy lobbying to get whatever it wants, whether that’s less competition, fewer consumer protections, rubber stamped mergers, or gigantic tax breaks that serve no useful public purpose. The vast, vast majority of the time the company faces absolutely no repercussion for its dodgy lobbying practices, especially those on the state level.
That luck recently ran out in Illinois, where the company was fined $23 million for bribing a state lawmaker’s ally in order to secure a key policy vote. According to a deferred prosecution agreement, the vote in question was a 2017 vote on Carrier of Last Resort (COLR) legislation that would have eliminated AT&T’s obligation to continue to provide landline service to all state residents.
AT&T of course wants to be free of having to provide dated landlines. Consumer groups are quick to note many of those landlines are used by old people who often can’t afford (or don’t understand how to use) cellular service, leaving them cut off from essential services and 911. They were also paid for on the back of millions in taxpayer subsidies, suggesting that taxpayers should have some say in the matter.
Continue reading AT&T Hit With $23 Million Fine For Bribing Illinois Lawmaker on Techdirt
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