Unfair Sales Practices and Consumer Fraud

questions & answers

Question: I discovered AT&T has fraudulently been charging me a "dial-up" fee for my email account. The amount has been between $12.95 and $21.95 every month, and I've had broadband since 2005. I read an article about a lady in New Jersey who had the same problem and she successfully sued AT&T. I'd like to take them to small claims court, but I don't know who to send the claim to. Do I send it to the corporate office? Doesn't someone have to be named? How do I serve them notice?

Answer: There are a couple of different issues that may apply to your situation, and it is highly recommended that you consult with an Arizona licensed attorney to determine your options. First, A.R.S. § 12-548 limits the timeframe by which an action based on a written contract may be commenced to six (6) years. As such, it is important to determine when the claim arose when analyzing whether the statute of limitations would bar such an action. Next, it is possible that your claim may be encompassed by much broader litigation - “a class action lawsuit.” There are multiple websites and internet tools that may be able to assist you in determining whether a class action lawsuit against AT&T currently exists, and more importantly, whether your claim would be included in the class. Your reference to “small claims court” generally refers to Justice Courts in Arizona. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 22-201(B) Justice Courts in Arizona have authority to hear all civil actions when the amount involved is $10,000.00 or less. If the amount involved exceeds $10,000.00, then the Arizona Superior Court has proper jurisdiction. As such, it is very important to determine the size of your claim as it will determine which court has proper jurisdiction to hear the case. As to your question about “service” - there are a number of different options. “Service” refers to the process by which a litigant delivers legal notice of a lawsuit to another party. Typically this is done via a process server, but there are other options available. Rule 113 of the Justice Court Rules of Civil Procedure (Justice Court) and Rule 4 of the Arizona Rules of Civil Procedure (Superior Court) identify the correct methods of service accepted in their respective judicial forum. Again, this highlights the need to properly determine the correct legal forum. Assuming you are moving forward with a lawsuit, you are correct that you have to “serve” the defendant in compliance with the respective rule. Pursuant to A.R.S. § 10-501, all companies conducting business in the state of Arizona are legally required to have a statutory agent - an appointed agent located within Arizona that is authorized to accept legal service on behalf of the company. In the event you are initiating suit against a company, the company’s statutory agent is the appropriate party to accept service. Consulting with an attorney to determine the correct party, and their statutory agent, is a good idea to ensure proper initiation of a suit. The information contained in this answer is intended to be used as information only, and is not intended to be construed or interpreted as legal advice.

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QUESTIONS

  • I discovered AT&T has fraudulently been charging me a "dial-up" fee for my email account. The amount has been between $12.95 and $21.95 every month, and I've had broadband since 2005. I read an article about a lady in New Jersey who had the same problem and she successfully sued AT&T. I'd like to take them to small claims court, but I don't know who to send the claim to. Do I send it to the corporate office? Doesn't someone have to be named? How do I serve them notice?

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