Tuesday, March 28, 2023 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Wireless Merger Leaves Consumers Disconnected

BALTIMORE (CN) - Consumers were misled into buying cellphones from Cricket wireless when the company knew those services would be rendered useless once the its pending acquisition by AT&T became final, a class action claims.

In a lawsuit filed in Baltimore Federal Court, lead plaintiff Tim Bond claims that when AT&T announced its agreement to acquire Cricket on July 12, 2013, it already knew it was going to discontinue all of the smaller firm's services and require its customers to use AT&T cellular network.

Bond says Cricket had to have known this, but nevertheless failed to tell consumers that its handsets had an "artificially limited useful life" and would soon be rendered inoperable.

His lawsuit claims the January 2015 phase out announcement prompted angry responses on an AT&T online forum. It quotes one Cricket customer wrote "AT&T is screwing over thousands of Cricket customers and they DON'T CARE ONE BIT!"

The complaint goes on to say that many customers who had purchased expensive smartphones less than a year ago are now seeing their phones turned off for good.

Along with Cricket customers in Maryland, customers in other major cities including Washington, D.C.; Little Rock, Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Arkansas; Wilmington, DE; Chicago; Atlantic City; Buffalo, NY and Philadelphia will see their service switched this month.

The suit does not cite how many customers bought phones after July 2013, but said the names and addresses of all class members can be identified in the business records maintained by AT&T.

Bond seeks actual and punitive damages and the free replacement of now defunct Cricket phones on behalf of himself and the class on claims of Breach of Implied Warranty, fraudulent concealment, unjust enrichment, negligent misrepresentation, fraud, and violations of the Maryland Consumer Protection Act.

He is represented by Cory Zajdel of Z Law LLC in Reisterstown, Md.

Read the Top 8

Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.