US carrier facing customer deception lawsuit

US carrier Cingular Wireless is facing a lawsuit, alleging that the carrier deceived millions of customers, an Associated Press report said.

The lawsuit stemmed from Cingular's promise to provide uninterrupted service to AT&T Wireless customers when it acquired that company in 2004, the report said.

The report said the lawsuit, which alleged breach of contract and violations of consumer protection laws, sought class-action status on behalf of the more than 20 million customers AT&T Wireless had at the time of the merger.

Many paid $18 "transfer" fees to switch to Cingular plans and were required to buy new phones or pay other fees, said the complaint filed in US District Court in Seattle, the report said.

"Everyone who signed an AT&T contract had their service degraded," attorney Mike Withey, quoted by Associated Press, said.

Atlanta-based Cingular acquired Redmond-based AT&T Wireless Services for $41 billion in October 2004, and promised in advertisements and news releases that the customers of both companies would see uninterrupted and even improved service as a result of the "combined network."

Withey argued that instead, Cingular stopped maintaining AT&T Wireless network facilities, the report said.