Fierce Telecom, March 24, 2011 – AT&T Faces Lawsuit in NC over Building Wiring Protection Plan

Posted March 24th, 2011.

By Sean Buckley

AT&T (NYSE: T) is facing a $10 million lawsuit over its “Inside Wire Protection Plan,” which can cost residential voice service anywhere from $6-$10 a month.

One of the problems is that AT&T is actually charging this fee every month to apartment residents that don’t own or aren’t responsible for maintaining a building’s inside wiring. Maintaining inside wiring in an apartment building is the responsibility of the apartment building’s owner, not the residents that live there.

Despite the fact that her building’s internal telephone wires are owned by her landlord, 82-year old Wilmington apartment resident Gloria Girton is billed $9.99 every month to pay for an AT&T “Inside Wire Protection Plan.”

But Girton is fighting back.

Represented by Steven L. Wittels and Jeremy Heisler of Sanford Wittels & Heisler LLP, New York City, Girton and other North Carolina customers have filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina to end AT&T’s practice of wrongfully billing customers nationwide for what in many cases is something they are not responsible for.

“AT&T is illegally charging many of its land line customers who live in multi-tenant facilities for unnecessary wire insurance,” Wittels said. “The company knows from prior litigation and its own internal investigations that this charge is improper, yet it continues to charge building tenants like Gloria for these worthless plans through deceptive sales actions that defraud and rob them of their hard-earned financial resources.”

Although the telco has not commented on the lawsuit, this is not the first time AT&T has been cited for implementing these charges on unsuspecting consumers. Wittels said that AT&T has been on notice since at least 2004 and possibly earlier that it is illegal to charge apartment residents for the inside wiring maintenance fees.

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