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AT&T sued by Washington DC for unused balances on calling cards

Vlad Savov

Here's a superficially curious, but fundamentally quite important, bit of legal wrangling for you. Reuters is reporting that the District of Columbia has filed suit against AT&T Corp for the recovery of unused balances on calling cards purchased from the telecom giant. Estimated at somewhere between 5 and 20 percent of the overall value of the cards, the so-called breakage -- leftover credit that customers neglect to use -- has typically remained with the carrier as a sort of predictable bonus. The DC Attorney General, however, is seeking to have breakages treated as unclaimed property, which under district law means that after three years they must be returned to the state. Whichever side of the fence you sit on, the decision on this case will set a significant precedent for the future of such prepaid services.

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