The less known provisions of the new AT&T TOS

The caps are the biggest part of the new Terms of Service AT&T has released, but did you know that there are other provisions that are just as alarming?

One big one is mandatory binding arbitration. Arbitration is a private way of settling disputes without having to get the courts involved. Good in theory, right? Wrong:

The TOS also informs U-Verse users that if they agree to their AT&T contract they lose their ability to take part in a class action lawsuit, and instead must participate in binding arbitration — a process overseen by AT&T-hired companies where consumers lose more often than not.

And this isn’t the first time AT&T has decided to try these shenanigans. (Hopefully the SCOTUS will rule against AT&T and force them to permit class action lawsuits again.)

They can also now force you onto U-Verse if you have AT&T DSL, which means that if you can get service with a CLEC in your area, you may no longer be able to. For me, DSLextreme is the CLEC in my area, but my neighborhood can’t get service from them because of what I assume is U-Verse availability. Another way AT&T can force the competition out of the picture.

And AT&T can now terminate your service if you’re being impolite to the representative:

you engage in conduct that is threatening, abusive or harassing to the AT&T or Yahoo employees, including, for example, making threats to physically harm or damage employee or company property; frequent use of profane or vulgar language; or repeatedly contacting our customer service representatives for reasons that do not pertain to our provisioning, maintenance, repair or general servicing of your high speed Internet access service after you have been asked to stop such conduct.

Threatening violence at anyone is always a bad move, but would complaining about improper billing not fall under “general servicing” of your connection? I don’t think anyone knows.

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