AT&T customers file arbitration against T-Mobile merger

A New York law firm, Bursor & Fisher, has filed arbitration against ATT in a bid to prevent the purchase of T-Mobile.  The eleven separate cases come on behalf of ATT custromers who claim that the acquisition violates the Clayton Antitrust Act and will negatively affect consumers.

The merger still needs to make it through the Department of Justice and FCC gauntlets, but attorney Steve Brusor sees this as one more measure that can be taken to prevent it:

“Government enforcement is an important part of the antitrust laws, but the Clayton Act also permits private parties who may be adversely affected to challenge a proposed merger. That means any AT&T cellphone, data or iPad customer who will suffer higher prices and diminished service because of this merger can sue to stop it from happening.”

His firm has created a website, in hopes of finding more ATT users who want to join the fight.  The strategy is simple, yet brilliant.  Ma Bell requires customers to agree to a contract that prohibits them from filing class-action lawsuits, instead forcing them into mediated arbitration, at ATT's expense nonetheless.  The plan is to bring as many arbitration cases against ATT as possible, in hopes of getting at least one mediator to rule in favor of the plaintiff.  If that happens, Bursor thinks there is a strong case to shoot down the deal. 

Despite this, as well as the joint efforts of consumer advocate groups and wireless carriers like Sprint, it's still an uphill battle.  ATT is a huge company and has gained the support of countless politicians, lobbyists and other corporations.  And although ATT was not available to comment on the arbitration cases directly, they seemed confident during an earnings call yesterday that the deal would go through as early as Q1 2012.

Source: AllThingsD


Reader comments

AT&T customers file arbitration against T-Mobile merger


i don't exactly understand how this equates to higher prices and worse service for AT&T customers? Wouldn't more towers help?

Well mainly because this would merge the only 2 large GSM carriers in the US. Competition would shrink overall and big time with regards to GSM "ownereship". I don't think service was meant in terms of coverage, but more from a customer service standpoint.

I don't understand why it's such a big deal that they will be the only GSM carrier. They are still going to have Verizon and Sprint to compete with. The majority of people don't know the difference between GSM and CDMA, that isn't a deciding factor for which carrier to go to. I'm not saying I support the merger, I'm just lost at how that particular argument is valid. Every carrier is moving to LTE anyway, and the phones still won't work between networks.

The other downside of this merger would mean a lot of newly unemployed people. Duplication of service will put a lot of employees on the street.

But what happens if the merger doesn't happen. Do people think the industry is just going to chug along with the big 4. I could have sworn I read somewhere before the merger announcement that Deutsche Telekom said they were done with trying to stay in the US market with T-Mobile. Even if the AT&T deal does not happen, they are out. Will they sell off to Sprint, in which case we're still down to one GSM carrier. Or do they just close shop and write-off T-Mobile. Last I checked, there was no law to make you keep running a business. I guess a best case scenario is AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint each buying part of T-Mobile. Again we'll be down to 3 big carriers and do Verizon and Sprint want to try to integrate a different technology into their existing networks? I heard Senator Kohl piped up against the merger, but a lot of good he did against the Comcast buyout of NBC.

That's exactly why I think people should just let it happen. I too remember the original announcement with Deutsche Telekom saying they were no long interested in the US market which is why they are trying to sell it off. All the carriers are going to eventually raise prices whether this deal is finalized or not. AT&T is going to be $6 billion if it fails regardless. If it does happen and AT&T tried anything crazy there will be plenty of lawsuits to keep them in line. At the end of the day, they actually want their customers to stay and continue giving them money, so they aren't going to try to **** all their customers too bad.

It's like over here, T-Mo were running in 4th place so they merged with Orange. I guess eventually they're gonna completely go and all T-Mo customers will become Orange customers? Is that how it works?

I agree with you and believe you are right, as much as I hate AT&T, I would much rather see T-Mobile merged with them than cease to operate altogether.

Wow, what a scam. This firm tries to **** Ma-bell for attorney fees whether your claim is frivilous or not. If you do get the "$10,000" they are promising, the firm wants all the attorney fees AND up to 50% of your $10,000 OR If the arbitrator finds that AT&T is responsible for your legal fees, they want you to agree to lump it all into one sum, and get 50% of that, whichever is greater. So if the research, filing fees, misc court fees add up to $2k then they are entitled to $4000, and you get $4,000? Either way, they would still get $2,000 whether or not you get your 4 grand... Maybe its time for me to look into a new career.

which is what ATT was trying to avoid with their no class action lawsuit mandatory arbitration clause It may turn out being the same thing as a clss action lawsuit hiding in a mass arbitration costume.

I used to be on AT&T and the service was horrible an expensive. I switched to T-Mobile and the service is better and less expensive. As far as regular old customers go, this is the only reason people will not want the merger to happen.