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Sprint and Verizon agree to refund customers for "cramming"

May 12, 2015

Michigan is getting a small share of a multi-million dollar settlement.

Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Sprint and Verizon have agreed to a $158 million national settlement over unauthorized charges on cell phone bills.

Verizon Wireless has agreed to pay $90 million and Sprint $68 million to settle charges that the mobile giants allowed phony charges on their customers' monthly bills.

According to federal regulators, the two mobile providers had partnered with third-party vendors that sell premium text messaging services, such as daily horoscopes, trivia and sports scores. But consumers who hadn't signed up for the services were being billed anyway, typically about $9.99 a month.

Regulators said they launched an investigation after receiving numerous complaints that the carriers had refused to refund the charges.

Both companies said in statements emailed to reporters on Tuesday that they had stopped allowing premium text messaging before the government investigation began, and that the settlements reflect their commitment to customer service.

Michigan is getting about $500,000 from the settlement.

Including other national cramming settlements, Michigan has received $1.2 million. Customers will be eligible to seek refunds.