According to a report published on Friday in the Washington Post, pre-paid customers of T-Mobile and AT&T are being overcharged for the voice minutes with calls running under a minute routinely counted as two minute calls by both carriers.
It’s buyer beware for prepaid customers. AT&T announced on Thursday that it had closed on its purchase of Leap Wireless (FCC: pdf), with nearly 5 million new pre-paid customers now moving over to AT&T.
The study conducted by the Post found that some carriers are routinely adding time to the length of a call, even after the caller has hung up. In one example, AT&T added as many as 33 seconds to a subscriber’s call after he had ended the connection. This allowed the carrier to bill the customer for an additional minute of talk time.
AT&T and T-Mobile basically offered the same explanation, saying that the timer on a phone measuring the length of a call is not accurate, reports Phone Arena.
“The time displayed on the phone does not necessarily reflect the actual start and end periods recorded for the time charged to the customer. A call’s time begins when you press the send button. And, a call’s time ends after you press the end button and your phone’s signal to disconnect is received by the network and the call disconnect signal is confirmed.” -AT&T statement
Still, the Washington Post also tested Verizon’s pre-paid service and found that the call time as listed on the phone used, matched perfectly with the amount of talk time charged to the Verizon customer.
AT&T says they will retain Leap’s Cricket prepaid brand, and use Leap’s PCS and AWS frequencies, which AT&T says cover 137 million people and is “largely complementary to AT&T’s existing spectrum licenses.”
Presumably, AT&T will use their own billing system for their new Leap subscribers.