Alltel sued for content billing posted by Joe on April 18th, 2008 - 9:45 am | Alltel
It was barely a month ago that AT&T settled a suit over content billing. Now Alltel is falling under fire, though the specific details of the suit are not immediately available. All we know is that the case is over Alltel “systematically, repeatedly and without authorization, billing its customers for purchases and services not agreed to by those customers.” This makes it sound very much like the AT&T case.
In that case, AT&T was being sued for the actions of third parties. Ever see those sites that offer “free ringtones”? They’re usually at a “.blogspot.com” address. Well, they’re not free at all. Once you download the ringtone, you are automatically enrolled in a recurring monthly subscription program, billed through your carrier. So unless you’re meticulously checking your bill, it’s a charge that easily flies under the radar.
James Quintana Pearce, author of the linked story, notes: “Nevertheless, if telcos are held responsible for the actions of third party vendors and the failure of people to read the fine print a fine line will have to be walked.”
I believe it’s more an issue of which third parties the telcos allow to direct-bill. It seems that a process of vetting these third parties is warranted. That way, shady ringtone companies, which don’t disclose their terms, nor let you know that you’re even signing up for a service, won’t be able to bill directly to the customer’s wireless bill.