May 25, 2011 Wednesday
Suburban Edition
BYLINE: Cecilia Kang

Senate lawmakers said Tuesday that they sent a letter to AT&T asking for more information about a lawsuit alleging that the wireless giant systematically overcharged smartphone customers.

In a letter, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Herb Kohl (D-Wis.) asked AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson a series of questions about the company's billing practices.

Kohl, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently held a hearing on AT&T's proposed acquisition of T-Mobile to explore whether the merger presents antitrust concerns. Klobuchar, a member of the committee, has supported rules that prevent bill shock from data overcharges and limits to penalties on early contract cancellations.

AT&T has disputed allegations by customer Patrick Hendricks, who filed his class-action suit in the U.S. District Court of Northern California. According to Hendricks, AT&T systematically overstates Web server traffic for smartphone users by 7 to 14 percent.

He hired an independent consulting firm to study billing of AT&T customers, according to the suit.

Klobuchar and Kohl asked AT&T to respond to the allegations.

"The answers to these questions will be important as we consider competition in the cellphone industry, including the proposed AT&T/T-Mobile merger," the lawmakers wrote. "And, whatever the validity of the allegations of overcharging, our goal is to ensure going forward that consumers can have confidence that their bills for data service are completely accurate and reliable."