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Post date: February 2 2000

At&t Settles Concerns About Misleading Advertising

Attorney General Spitzer today announced a settlement with one of the nation’s leading telecommunications firms over concerns that its advertising for directory assistance services was misleading to consumers.

The Attorney General’s office had questioned certain AT&T advertisements that noted a "free connection" when using the company’s directory assistance service. As a result of this advertisement, some consumers believed that telephone calls made using this service were free. In fact, consumers were charged 99 cents for accessing the directory assistance service and charged varying rates for the call itself. Consumers were not charged for an automatic connection to the number they were seeking.

"Telecommunications advertising has become extremely confusing, " Spitzer said. "Competition in this industry is effective only when consumers have clear and complete information."

As part of the settlement, AT&T will clarify its advertisements for "00 Info" or "10-10-ATT-00" directory assistance services and clearly disclose any and all charges. This includes charges for using directory assistance, for automatic connections to a number or for the cost of a call itself.

Spitzer commended AT&T for working with his office to address the confusion over the ads. The company agreed to pay $40,000 to settle the charges.

This case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Jill Ellen Sandford of the Telecommunications and Energy Bureau, under the supervision of Mary Ellen Burns, Bureau Chief.