Are AT&T and T-Mobile prepaid customers being fraudulently overbilled?

In a filing to the Federal Communications Commission, AT&T subscriber William Fogal alleges that he has been overcharged by AT&T for his airtime. He observed a discrepancy between the call records reported by his prepaid phone and his usage history reported by AT&T. For example, he cited one 29-second call he made on March 4, 2013. When he went to AT&T’s web site he saw that it read “1 minute and 2 seconds.” Rather than being charged ten cents for a single minute, he was charged double for two minutes.

Wireless companies generally charge customers a full minutes worth of air time for every fraction of a minute used. That has never been challenged but should be. At the end of 2013, AT&T had 7.4 million prepaid customers.

Fogal and others claim that this is a “pattern of abuse” and “massive consumer fraud.”

AT&T says that the time displayed on the phone does not always reflect the actual start and end time, as the call begins when you press the send button and ends when you press the end button on the phone.

Fogal said that he has filed complaints with the Securities and Exchange Commission and in the FCC.