Class Accuses AT&T|of a Bait & Switch

     SAN DIEGO (CN) — A federal class action accuses AT&T of a “classic bait and switch,” by offering a 10-cent per minute plan for all domestic cellphone calls, though it has no such plan, the cheapest per-minute plan being 25 cents.
     Lead plaintiff Eric Zatt sued AT&T and AT&T Mobility on June 2. He bought an AT&T GoPhone in a package labeled “Your plan — your choice,” offering a 10-cent per minute plan for any call within the United States, Zatt says.
     AT&T sells GoPhones and GoPhone-compatible cellphones at major retail stores, including Wal-Mart, Walgreen, Best Buy, Target, Staples, Seven-11 and elsewhere, but only AT&T and AT&T Mobility are named as defendants.
     “Under the heading ‘Your plan – your choice,’ the packaging, for the cellular phone purchased by plaintiff Zatt features a $0.10 per minute plan for calls within the United States,” the lawsuit states. “Despite this representation … AT&T offers no such plan, instead only allowing GoPhone purchasers to choose other, substantially more expensive calling plans. This tactic or practice constitutes a classic ‘bait and switch.'”
     The lawsuit lists the plans AT&T actually offers, including monthly plans for $30, $45 or $60, or $2 a day, or 25 cents a minute.
     “AT&T’s least expensive offering is a $0.25 per minute plan,” Zatt says. He says that not only does AT&T “victimize” customers by doing this, he lost the purchase price of his phone as well, as he refuses to use it.
     “Plaintiff and members of the class have been victimized by this practices in with AT&T advertises on the packaging for its GoPhones that it has no intention of actually providing to consumers,” Zatt says. “After purchasing a device, and discovering that AT&T does not offer the plan that they sought to use, consumers are then forced to either purchase an alternative (and more expensive) plan, or they are left with an otherwise useless cellular phone.”
     AT&T is one of the nation’s largest providers of prepaid cellphone and data services. In the first quarter of 2016, it added 500,000 new prepaid customers through its GoPhone and Cricket prepaid services, bringing its total of prepaid customers to 11 million, according to the complaint.
     Zatt seeks certification of a nationwide class and California subclass, and damages for fraud, negligent misrepresentation, unjust enrichment, false advertising, and unfair competition.
     He is represented by Stephen Basser with Barrack, Rodos & Bacine in San Diego, who could not be reached for comment Monday. An AT&T spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit.

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