AT&T accused of scheming to sell more cell phones

Michelle Massey Mar. 10, 2011, 1:13pm

A New Orleans attorney has filed a class action against AT&T for allegedly scheming to increase sales of new equipment by discouraging or preventing repairs of damaged phones through misinformation.

Richard H. Barker, IV, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, filed suit against New Cingular Wireless PCS, AT&T Wireless PCS, AT&T Wireless Services PCS, American Telephone and Telegraph Company, AT&T Inc. and John Does 1-3 on Feb. 28 in federal court in New Orleans.

According to the complaint, prior to April 2009, Barker took his AT&T "Tilt" phone to the AT&T retail store located in New Orleans because his phone had a cracked glass on its touch screen. Barker states that an employee advised him that AT&T did not repair phones and only sold replacement new phones and that the employee was not aware of a source to send the phone to for repairs.

Barker claims he purchased a new "Tilt" phone. On April 6, 2009, Barker went to a different AT&T retail store regarding his new "Tilt" phone, which had a broken plastic cover. Again, Barker was told that AT&T did not sell replacement parts and the employee was not aware of a source to purchase replacement parts.

Barker bought a brand new AT&T "Fuze" phone for $414.18.

According to the complaint, a year later, with a broken "Fuze" phone, Barker returned to an AT&T retail store and was told it could not repair it. Barker claims he left the retail store, researched the phone and learned that the phone could be repaired at an HTC repair center.

Barker claims that the defendant's failure to advise its customers of the identity and location of available sources for parts and services constitutes gross negligence, breach of contract and fraud.

AT&T is accused of not providing this information so that it could increase sales of new equipment.

The plaintiff is asking the court for injunctive relief and an award of compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney's fees, court costs and interest.

Barker is representing himself with co-counsel David W. Bernberg of New Orleans.

U.S. District Judge Martin L. C. Feldman is assigned to the case.

Case No. 2:11-cv-00482

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