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AT&T Buries ToS Changes In 2500-Page Guide 99

Posted by timothy
from the if-you-can't-play-nice dept.
JagsLive points out a story from the business section of the L.A. Times which begins: "Judging from the phone company's voluminous new online customer manual, if you have a problem with your bill, too bad: AT&T has sent customers an 8,000-word service agreement that, among other things, says people will be given 30-day notice of price increases only when 'commercially reasonable' and that you can't sue the company. Oh, and if you don't like AT&T's terms — providing you can make your way through the company's 2,500-page 'guidebook' — your only recourse is to cancel service."
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AT&T Buries ToS Changes In 2500-Page Guide

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  • Re:lawyers (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lostlander (1219708) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:29AM (#25038733)
    It's an 8,000 word service agreement buried in a 2,500 page 'guidebook'.
  • Re:Great.... (Score:5, Informative)

    by squiggleslash (241428) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:34AM (#25038801) Homepage Journal

    At the time AT&T bought BellSouth, AT&T was certainly not the old long distance company. That had been bought by SBC a year or two previously. SBC renamed itself to AT&T, and that corporation swallowed BellSouth.

    All of which is a shame, because BellSouth was actually a fairly decent company - well, fairly decent as monopolistic local telcos can be.

  • Re:lawyers (Score:4, Informative)

    by mapsjanhere (1130359) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:37AM (#25038829)
    even worse, it's an 8000 word service agreement "referencing" an online-only guidebook. And it still has clauses in it that e. g. CA courts have found unenforceable, but if your local courts haven't done so you're still stuck with them.
  • by JBMcB (73720) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:37AM (#25038831)

    I use a T-Mobile burner. Minutes are a little pricey, but get cheaper after you invest $100. It works fine, I spend maybe $5/month, there are no recurring fees. It doesn't do internet, I don't text (It's $0.10/message) It's a pretty barebones phone, but I used to have a fancy unlocked linux phone that worked fine with the SIM.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @10:45AM (#25038953)

    Sucks to have an iPhone and be under contract.

  • by LordNimon (85072) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:00AM (#25039163)
    I've never had any problem with Virgin Mobile. I bought a $50 phone, pay $5/month for cell phone service, never had any outages, and no contract either.
  • Re:lawyers (Score:4, Informative)

    by compro01 (777531) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:03AM (#25039211)

    Georgia courts (11th circuit) have also decided the same [technologylawupdate.com] regarding similar terms that concast used.

  • Re:AT&T (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:11AM (#25039343)
    Wow, not only are you wrong, but you chose to be wrong in, to paraphrase the Daily Show, the douchiest way possible.

    Illegal contracts are unenforcable. Period. End of story.

    Waivers are only legal if they meet certain conditions. They must be clear, they can only waive neglegence (IE: not intentional harm), they must be unambiguous and clear, they must be between two parties with equal bargaining power, and they can not be applied to essential services.

    It's entirely possible to argue that this clause is overly broad, between two parties with unequal bargaining power, and it for an essential service, thus making it null and void.
  • I'm AT&T FREE! (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheDarkener (198348) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:29AM (#25039637)

    I used to have 3 separate AT&T accounts, with a total of 5 services...

    - Home phone line
    - Upgraded DSL

    - Business phone line

    - Cell phone (mine)
    - Cell phone (wife's)

    I canceled them ALL because of the AT&T/NSA wiretapping fiasco, and haven't looked back yet. I can't tell you all how good it feels to shed AT&T from my life. Seriously. I have T-Mobile for cellphones (they have great customer service AND coverage!), Comcast for Internet, and Vonage for business phone.

    I have to tell you all again - it feels GOOD to be free from the telco giant. :) I would advise any sane person to do the same.

  • Re:AT&T (Score:2, Informative)

    by OhHellWithIt (756826) * on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @11:44AM (#25039865) Journal

    Certainly in the UK, a contract which refuses legal recourse (ie "You can't take us to court") is illegal and, therefore, that clause is automatically null and void.

    I haven't read The Fine ToS (I'm not an AT&T customer), but the trend in the U.S. for a number of years now is to put a binding arbitration clause in the contract. There are arbitration firms that provide a venue in lieu of the courts to settle disputes between parties. The effect, as I understand it, is to shift more of the cost of initiating litigation onto the plaintiff and to reduce the risk of exorbitant awards against the defendant. There are plenty of other benefits, but I think they accrue mostly to the benefit of the party writing the contract. (Not that this is much different from the way contracts were written before this trend.)

  • by immcintosh (1089551) <slashdot AT ianmcintosh DOT org> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:20PM (#25040417) Homepage
    As far as I'm aware, AT&T can say whatever the hell they want in a notice like that. Whether any of it is legally enforceable is another matter entirely. I mean, contracts require certain niceties like, you know, both sides actually agreeing to them. I imagine this will be treated as a contract of adhesion in the worst possible light if it ever actually comes to court.
  • Re:AT&T (Score:5, Informative)

    by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:20PM (#25040425) Homepage Journal

    Here you go:
    Little Guy vs. MegaCorp [groklaw.net]

    And who in this case is the MC? Oh, I see it's AT&T. Well what do you know.

    Douchiest indeed.

  • by just_another_sean (919159) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:23PM (#25040473) Homepage Journal

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't a Stateside judge just quash something like this a few weeks ago?

    Yup, but my answer is going to be pretty much worthless, because I don't have a link available for you. Try searching Slash stories from a couple weeks ago.

    Groklaw still has it: McKee vs. AT&T [groklaw.net]

  • Re:lawyers (Score:5, Informative)

    by torkus (1133985) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:55PM (#25040969)

    Yes and no. You can ALWAYS file suit. period fucking dot.

    However immediately following the companies lawyers will file a motion to dismiss based on the binding arb clause. YMMV at that point but a judge CAN order binding arbitration.

  • by rnturn (11092) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:38PM (#25041797)

    I tried searching for text in the Guidebook and, for a long time, found I was more likely than not to receive an HTTP 500 error. Eventually I did get results returned though all returned hits (that I got, anyway) were links to individual PDFs. There were often dozens of linked PDFs with no real way of knowing which ones were really going to be helpful at all to you. The search function is, in a word: useless

    Nice site. (For sufficiently small values of nice, that is.)

    I was going to switch my internet access at home from Covad to ATT. Until now.

  • by rnturn (11092) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:42PM (#25041861)

    Heck, I should have tried this before but the search results I get show symbols denoting that the information is in a PDF but the PDF images aren't links to anything. They're just pictures. The site is even less than worthless.

  • Free SMS = $0.20 (Score:4, Informative)

    by insanechemist (323218) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @04:23PM (#25044505) Homepage

    Anyone else notice that AT&T sends you a notice of updated iPhone firmware that starts with "AT&T Free Msg: Apple has released ..." BUT when you get the bill - lo and behold you've been charged $0.20? I only notice this because I never use text messaging. I wonder if there is a way to disable this "feature" . . .

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