AT&T says it mistakenly paid millions of dollars in fees to a pay phone company, which now refuses to return the money.
The allegations are contained in a lawsuit filed this week at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. In it, AT&T says that between 2005 and 2008, it handed more than $3.2 million dollars to Mobile, Ala.-based Global Tel*Link to pay for 1-800 calls made on their phones. The payments were intended to comply with Federal Communications Commission regulations which require long-distance carriers to compensate pay phone operators each time a caller dials a 1-800 number.
But as AT&T notes in its suit, long distance carriers aren’t supposed to pay for calls that are auto-dialed on the phones. And unbeknownst to AT&T, the complaint states, Global Tel*Link “programmed its payphones to auto-dial one or more 1-800 numbers on a daily basis.”
AT&T says that after it discovered the problem, Global Tel*Link allegedly acknowledged the payments were a mistake. It explained that the phones dialed the numbers to log their daily call records with Global Tel*Link’s system. AT&T stopped paying for the calls, but according to its complaint, Global Tel*Link “refused to refund” any of the more than $3.2 million it had already paid.
AT&T is represented in the case by Washington, D.C.-based Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel partners Michael Kellogg and Scott Angstreich, and associate Kenneth Fetterman. Angstreich declined to comment on the suit. No attorneys have appeared for Global Tel*Link. A call to the company’s legal department was not immediately returned.