Telecommunications Policy

D.C. to AT&T: All Your Unused Minutes Are Belong to Us

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Washington, D.C. is suing AT&T because some customers who buy its prepaid calling cards don't always use up all the minutes. The city isn't suing on behalf of the customers, of course (though even that would be sort of silly). It's suing on the notion that when a customer doesn't use up all of a product or service they purchase, the remainder belongs to the government. So they want the company to pay what the minutes are worth to the D.C. government, where they might be better used on, oh I don't know, maybe to pay overtime for Mayor Adrian Fenty's mountain bike detail.

Next up, D.C. sues Burger King for stray fries that go uneaten after falling to the bottom of the drive-thru bag.

NEXT: Reason Writers Around Town: Nick Gillespie in The Wall Street Journal on The Phony Fears of The Coming Decade

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  1. Good Morning reason!

  2. Radley,

    Escheat law for unused minutes? I like the fries example.

    What about getting money from oil companies for what evaporates out of gas tanks?

    1. Why wait for it to evaporate?

      Why doesn’t DC have a city crew that just drives down the street each night siphoning off the gas left over in the tank of each car parked on the street?

      Isn’t that left over gas that should belong to the city by the same reasoning?

      1. Great observation. Sorry, I had my normal thinking bonnet on this morning instead of the other one.

    2. Escheat to the crown. That’s the logic and mentality at work here.

  3. Wow.

    o.O?

    What a great way to start the day. Thanks Reason!

  4. Definitely a government thing. If you have something, they think it belongs to them.

  5. fries that go uneaten after falling to the bottom of the drive-thru bag.

    I can assure you, they get eaten.

    1. They do in my truck. Not the ones that fall on the floor, the ones in the bag.

      1. er, could I have the ones on the floor?? Hate to see anything go to waste, ya, know. ‘sides, if I claim them, ‘somebody’ else won’t be able to, right???

  6. Next up revenue-enhancer kit.

    1. Those Argentines and their unexpected innovations!

    2. By feeding cows clover and alfalfa instead of grain, “you can reduce methane emissions by 25 percent…

      Well duh! Every cattleman knows this. It makes economic sense too, as grain is significantly more expensive. Which is why grain is only used at the feed lots for fattening up cattle at the end of their “production cycle.”

  7. Sloppy, as usual. And that’s just the cycling dig (hint: mountain bikes had nothing to do with it).

    The DC suit is based on – as Suki mentions – the concept of escheat, which is centuries old, and not some DC scheme to take away anyone’s property. The idea is that unclaimed property ought to be dealt with, and that in the absence of finding an identifiable owner, the property goes to the state/crown/etc.

    As with so many other stories at Reason, you’ll have to go elsewhere if you want the complete story, and not just whatever Radley wants to clutch his pearls over.

    1. not some DC scheme to take away anyone’s property.

      It’s a scheme by the city government to shake AT&T down for cash. They’re not suing to get AT&T to credit the minutes to some pool of telephone service for the city to use.

      -jcr

    2. Umm, MB. The purchase of the prepaid calling cards is a contract between the purchaser and AT&T. The government should be there to ensure both sides honor the contract, not attempt to skim off what remains. Amazing that governments have to go back to feudalism to steal a buck (or shilling). It is funny that the term is “escheat” though.

    3. I think MB got confused by those commercials where unused minutes are physical tokens hoarded in kitchen drawers.

    4. Deepthroat that government cock more, MB.

      1. Works for me!

    5. The contract is between AT&T and the customer. The customer pays x dollars, and can use the AT&T system for up to y minutes. “Minutes” are not manufactured or created. There are identifiable owners in this case, the customer and AT&T. The government only should be involved if AT&T is cheating the customer, which I don’t think is being alleged.

      We’re on prepaid phones (with another company). We fully understand that we have a limited amount of time to use the value we pay for. It’s in the contract, and even displayed on my phone.

    6. AT&T likely prices its product based on expected use, and having the government confiscate unused minutes will inevitably increase the price for others. This is the economics of these types of private contracts, and this reasoning does not require one to research elsewhere.

    7. How are unused minutes any different than, say, an unused car…It is sits in a DC garage for a year does the city think they own it?

    8. MB writes: “The DC suit is based on – as Suki mentions – the concept of escheat, which is centuries old,”

      Nothing so progressive as following the dictates of royalty long ago. Just like socialists follow the progressive of 150 years ago, Mr. Marx —
      what next? We have to buy what the crown wants — oh yeah, coming — health care.
      Or perhaps we have to stay on the job, which we must pass on to our sons — oy vey, just like Unions want to preserve General Motors for their kids to have good jobs too.
      Examples abound of the left living deep in the past.
      Why, they even want to slay dragons — mostly of the free market and individualist kind.
      If this concept of escheat is so worthy for phone minutes it could apply to so many things that for the 230 years of America for it was not allowed because we threw off the concept of kingly privilege.
      So glad that you lefty-progressives are returning us to the dark ages. Why, you even want us to turn off the heat and light. Egads. Get off the computer mister, before you are escheated out of the minutes of internet time you don’t use in your service deal.

  8. A new troll.

    Yay!

    1. Be nice to JCR. He’s being good.

    2. Have some respect, phillistine. This one has a blog. He’s to be reckoned with.

  9. The DC suit is based on – as Suki mentions – the concept of escheat, which is centuries old, and not some DC scheme to take away anyone’s property.

    Hold on Mister! The government IS trying to take property. Those minutes either belong to the customer or the vendor and nobody else.

    1. yes, but if you give it a legal name, it’s ok. ‘escheat” sounds ever so much nicer than “money-grab.”

      1. Yea, just like eminent domain.

      2. When I first came across this concept in law school, the professor inevitably used the joke … “while some find that the concept serves the public good, others claim ‘es cheating'”

        Make of it what you will

      3. If a person dies with no will and no heirs, the property escheats to the state. That’s reasonable. This is ridiculous.

        1. It should go to their nearest relative, per the government records or a claim by them.

      4. If a person dies with no will and no heirs, the property escheats to the state. That’s reasonable. This is ridiculous.

        1. Uhhh….actually, it’s quite tough to have no heirs, at least in Washington. There’s a long defined list of heirs – spouse, children, parents, uncles/aunts, cousins, great uncles / aunts, 2nd cousins, etc, etc and on. Only in the most extreme case of someone dying without a will is it possible that the estate will revert to the state.

  10. In a theoretical free market society with a large population of 100 trillion people, each of whom has intelligent cybernetic agents at his disposal for market research powered by a Dyson sphere, sure, we could just let the market handle things.

    But given the current monopolistic status of corporations such as AT&T, sure, people are going to support the use of government power to temper some of the worst abuses (such as take it or leave it pricing in an unequal market).

    1. But given the current monopolistic status of corporations such as AT&T,

      Is that a false premise or are you just happy to see me?

      1. The AT&T symbol does resemble a Death Star silhouette, no?

        1. More evidence of evil!

          1. Something, dark siiiide, something AT&T…

    2. WTF … telecom is one of the most competitive markets on the planet.

      1. Perhaps he includes other worlds?

    3. You know how AT 7 T got to be so big?

      Gather round Digital Productivity Blog, and UI’ll tell you a little story.

      Back in the 1910’s, this newfangled thing called the telephone was taking the U.S. by storm. All the bright whiz kids were starting their own telephone companies, to the point where something like 80+ telephone companies were providing service to various populated portions of the U.S.

      Then Woodrow Wilson decided that he needed to bail out his buddies at J.P. Morgan (they ran the treasury department the way Goldman Sachs ran it under Bush the lesser & Obama) who stood to lose their investment in the British War effort, the Brits running out of men before German machine guns had reached their Kill limit and so engineered the U.S. entry into the Great War raging in Europe.

      Now at that time there was this belief that while the free market was pretty good, managed competition would be even better, so many powerful, politically connected businessmen went to DC and lobbied for their industries to be put under wartime planning with the pollitically connected businessment in charge.

      Int he case of the executives of AT& T, they pointed out the danger of having many different companies running the phone systems. Why, some of those little companies might even be run by Hun sympathisers who were just looking for a chance to spit American babies on their bayonets.

      Thus they convinced the Wilson administration, all telephony equipment was taken over by one company A T & T, which was given an exclusive monopoly by the U.S. government for the next 7 decades.

      Now, you may say that’s nice, but we have to deal with the monopolies we have now, and that strict government control is required to protect the consumer.

      This is a widely held superstition that is absolutely unsupported by historical experience.

      Absent government interference, any single business that is screwing over its customers creates an opportuinity for another business to enter the field and sieze market share by screwing the customers over less. There are numerous prepaid cell-phone companies ready to leap into the fray if AT&T treats its customers too shabbily.

      There is no moral cae for the city government to pull this stunt. No, they just are yet another criminal gang extorting stuff from creators of wealth. They are a pack of thieves who would do the world a favor if they put plastic bags over their heads and duct taped the edges to their necks.

      1. You mean AT&T isn’t hording minutes to prop up the price?

        /ducks

      2. Suki- extra good snark today.

        funny thing bout att. after the feds broke up ma bell into little bells, one of them (southren bell/sbc) wound up buying up ATT in the shape of Cingular if i remember correctly. i’m sure they sit around the board room table and sing “i’m my own grandpa”.

        1. crap…

          should be *southren belle.

          not sure how i screwed that up.

          1. Wasn’t it some company bought AT&T wireless, changed the name to Cingular, then changed it back to AT&T because they bought the name for that service too?

            Is AT&T wireless still “real” AT&T?

            1. The current AT&T is actually SBC (Southern Bell), one of the products of the original breakup of AT&T, which grew and bought Pacific Bell, etc. The breakup and reforming is sort of like the liquid metal Terminator, but with branding.

              1. jeez, who are you people?
                It was BellSouth that bought AT&T
                Before that BellSouth was South Central Bell.
                I worked there for more than 30 years

                1. This story has an interesting payoff, so follow me.

                  There was the consent decree resulting from antitrust action against AT&T in the 80s that broke AT&T into its local component Regional Bell Operating Companies (popularly known as Baby Bells). SBC (Southwestern Bell Corporation), Pacific Bell, NYNEX, Bell South and Ameritech were the big ones, with smaller ones like Southern New England Telecom (SNET) operating single state operations in places like Connecticut. AT&T left the local business to compete with the Sprints and MCIs/Worldcoms in the long distance business. The eastern seaboard RBOCs (other than BellSouth and SNET) eventually congealed into Verizon, while Ed Whitacre, SBC ambitious CEO, decided to reassemble Ma Bell AT&T from its Baby Bells.

                  Whitacre cut his teeth climbing the corporate ladder from SBC’s Regulatory division, so he knew his way around government and bureaucrats. Using bruising legal and regulatory tactics while schmoozing the powers that be, Whitacre gobbled up Pac Bell, Ameritech and SNET, surmounting the regulatory thicket that was supposed to stop such combinations. As wireless service became the next big thing, SBC and BellSouth formed a joint venture called Cingular. SBC eventually bought BellSouth, but kept the Cingular name for its wireless operations.

                  Meanwhile, AT&T was hemorrhaging money competing against Bernie Ebbers and Worldcom, who cooked the books to inflate stock price and undercut competitors. Worldcom was eventually exposed, but years of below cost pricing left competitors like AT&T in tatters. Seeing an opportunity to reconstruct Ma Bell in name, SBC’s CEO bought out AT&T and changed all of her trademarks to AT&T, including Cingular. Whitacre probably eyed a takeover of Verizon to complete the rebuilding of Ma Bell, but instead took a Golden Parachute from AT&T a few years back.

                  So when the government sought a CEO for its new bauble General Motors, guess who it hired? Yessir, Ed Whitacre, a man who knows about growing companies in deep cahoots with the government, but has little experience with cars. Unfortunately, the government experience is probably much more important than the lack of car experience.

                  And that, my friends, is the rest of the story.

                  1. Don’t forget that John Malone tried to unsuccessfully sell TCI to SBC (who wised up ater the final table) but then two years later, with spit and polish and a cloaking device, he sold it to AT&T for THREE TIMES THE PRICE. That was under Mike Armstrong…the one who basically sunk AT&T.

                    Watson, come here. I need you.

      3. I have first hand knowledge on this (and that is all I will say), but this is widely and publicly known by anyone who gives enough of a shit to read their 10Ks (which automatically excludes moron juvenile trolls who are well known to all ) … AT&T is getting its ass kicked in pre-paid card! The idea that they have any monopoly or aren’t subject to competition is too ridiculous to even argue against – sort of like trying to argue against someone claiming that the moon is made out of green cheese

      4. AT&T still didn’t have a 100% monopoly on local service. City councils could, and sometimes did, hand their monopoly powers over to other companies. For a while I lived in a town that had GTE and not AT&T as the government mandated phone company.

        1. Beloved BF had to live in a GTE world when he was my ageish. He likes now better, I think.

        2. Yeah, the rival phone companies were common enough in farm country that if you go to Abilene Kansas, after visiting the Eisenhower Library, your next stop could be… believe it or not… The Museum of Independent Telephony, celebrating America’s heritage of fighting the Ma Bell death star. It’s funny, but really, we ought to celebrate an example of free market resistance like this.

          http://www.heritagecenterdk.co…..phony.html

      5. YEA Tarran! Sounds like you did your homework. For me, the test of what is right or wrong is whether the action is valid universally. Soooo, what happens to all the unclaimed garbage at the dump, or to all the cable tv shows that we fall asleep watching? Can the govt suit to ‘own’ these things too? Anyhow, having someone collect unclaimed stuff isn’t so bad, as long as they then try to restore the stuff to the rightful owners. (This might be one of the few GOOD reasons to have govt intervention into a business transaction.) Did DC ever post ads trying to locate the original ‘owners’ of said minutes?

    4. people are going to support the use of government power to temper some of the worst abuses

      You’re serious? Unused minutes on a voluntarily purchased prepaid card is one of the “worst abuses”? I realize that the D.C. government has solved their problems of crime and education and needs something to occupy their time, but how can you ignore an even greater abuse of rights oppressing us all: the fact that iTunes gift cards come in even dollar amounts, but most prices in the iTunes Store end in $.99? It’s impossible to make things come out even! What a ripoff!

      1. Buy a hundred of them…

    5. But given the current monopolistic status of corporations such as AT&T,

      The 60’s called… it wants its comment back.

  11. The effect of those unused minutes is to reduce the costs for AT&T’s customers. If DC wins this suit, then every penny AT&T forks over to the city government is going to be passed along to their customers.

    -jcr

    1. Exactly JCR — the unused minutes (similar to unused gift cards) are counted on in the pricing system. This is yet another tax on consumers which they are attempting to hide so people don’t get wise. Are we seeing more and more of these attempts to hide taxes or am I just looking harder?

      1. it’s not a tax ’til the govt. steals it. before that it’s the most evil of things… profit!!!!! eek!!!

    2. Having used AT&T prepaid for a while I’ve had first hand experience with this. They give you ample time to use the minutes you buy. 90 days for $60 worth of calls. AT&T has to have a clear way to shut off phones, and the corresponding data on their servers for when the services go unused for extended periods of time.

      Holding onto records, voicemails, service info, etc takes up space on servers somewhere. That’s expensive.

      If this were to go through, would not any rental agency that gets it’s merchandise back before the contract deadline be subject to taxation?

    3. Don’t confuse costs and price. You have to assume the cards already cost as much as AT&T feels they can charge. Therefore the costs of this lawsuit come from AT&T profit and hurt the shareholders of AT&T.

      I hear your argument all the time and it isn’t correct.

      Sure this is stupid, money grubbing, corrupt politicians shaking down AT&T for money. But don’t use wrong economic theory to lambaste the practice.

  12. But given the current monopolistic status of corporations such as AT&T, sure, people are going to support the use of government power to temper some of the worst abuses (such as take it or leave it pricing in an unequal market).

    Because in a civilized society, every citizen has a RIGHT to a telephone. For free.

    1. PB,

      Did I miss where all AT&T competition went away? I keep seeing those AT&T ads against Verizon. Smoke screen to give the illusion of competition?

    2. That’s correct, it’s in the Bill of Rights, next to the right to health care.
      Chad and Tony said so, and would they lie?

      1. And killing babies.

        1. But they’re so tasty

  13. ATT has only itself to blame; they run those commercials which depict phone minutes as actual physical entities, when, in fact, they are not. What is the variable cost of a minute of cellphone time?

    1. I need to stay away from DC proper so I can keep my unused rollover minutes.

    2. The Mom in those commercials is somewhat Milfy though, no?

      1. thread weirdness winner!

      2. Captain, I’m picking up milfonic radiation on the ship’s sensors.

        1. Do tell, Spock… Sulu, change course. Head straight for the center of that radiation. I have an idea…

          1. Dammit, Jim, I am not gonna treat you for Rigellian clap again!

      3. Yeah, but she has the crazy eyes. I bet the first time you leave some french fries in the bag you will get bayoneted in your sleep.

    3. Exactly, it isn’t like those unused minutes provide any value to AT&T. Can they turn around and resell them? Is their network so tight that if the minutes were used they would have to expand capacity, I doubt it.

  14. Escheat laws are about as antiquated as sodomy laws, yet both remain on the books.

    How is it unclaimed property? It’s a contract agreement. Any unused minutes are returned to the provider. The provider has a “claim” to those minutes. Same as with a cell phone plan. Any unused minutes, in any given month, are forfeited.

    1. The claim that the unused minutes are unclaimed property that can be claimed by the state is too fantastical to even be entertained and speaks to how desperate the gov’t is getting for cash (and how deep they are soon to go into our pockets).

      It’s been a few years since law school (and I quite frankly don’t care enough to dust off my case book), but I’m pretty sure that escheat would require that no other non-government party has a colorable claim to the property (hence the requirement that non party have title and it therefore reverts to the state) … but in this case, AT&T has a contractual claim to that property.

      Also, if this were to withstand legal challenge, then it seems to me that all unexercised options that hit there date become state property – the slippery slop grand canyon deep

  15. Escheat laws are about as antiquated as sodomy laws

    So if my ass is unclaimed…..

    1. Is there really any chance of that?

      1. The government laid claim to your ass when you were just a sparkle in your Father’s eye.

    2. I’ll handle that!

  16. You gotta say though, that the DC Govt vs AT&T is a fight cast in the Aliens Vs Predator mode.

    1. Not a good analogy, clearly in that fight you hope Predator wins (i.e. AT&T)

  17. So if I had a contract with ATT Auto Co. to provide me with a fleet of 25 cars, and I opted to take possession of only 20, the government could swoop in and demand possession of the other five? What if they hadn’t yet been manufactured?

    1. The government owns the means of production. Ergo, they own your cars before they’re even built.

      1. Clearly this finding would put all “all you can eat buffets” out of business, as the state can claim any food that you could have eaten at that sitting but chose not to.

        Again, this just proves what a ridiculous statist hell we are quickly descending into

        1. All your creamed corn are belong to us.

          1. mmmm … creamed corn

          2. mmmm … garmonbozia

      2. isn’t the douchebag who’s running GM the same chicago thug who put ATT together w/ SBC?

      3. Y’damn skippy we own the means of production! It is Mine, in fact!

        1. *sigh* WE LOVE YOU OBAMA!!! WE WANT YOU TO BE OUR BABY-DADDY!!!

          1. Hell, for all you know I’m probably your daddy…or maybe Cigar Bill is.

  18. Thus they convinced the Wilson administration, all telephony equipment was taken over by one company A T & T, which was given an exclusive monopoly by the U.S. government for the next 7 decades.

    But- telephones are a natural monopoly. I learned it in school.

    1. Telephone companies are a natural monopoly, and Tarran’s comment is misleading. AT&T got into a monopoly position by (a) buying up the smaller telephone companies and (b) refusing to interconnect with small companies that competed with them.

      If you went with an AT&T service, you could call long-distance to other AT&T customers – but if you went with a smaller independent telephone company, you couldn’t, because they weren’t allowed to connect to AT&T long distance. Likewise, independent telephone companies often weren’t allowed to connect to AT&T locally, so if you went with a new independent for phone service you couldn’t call any of the existing local numbers because they were all still AT&T.

      What the US Goverment did in the 1910s – the Kingsbury Commitment – didn’t grant AT&T some special government monopoly. It was actually just an agreement not to break up their existing monopoly, so long as they met certain conditions. One of them was allowing independant local phone companies to connect to their long distance network. Another was a restriction on purchases of competitors. Neither were enough to stop AT&T from cementing their position as a telco monopoly.

      1. So when a local city government grants a company an exclusive monopoly on local phone service, it was only being redundant?

        1. For the most part, yes.

          There is no statutory monopoly for cable franchises in many cities in the great state of Ohio, yet only one cable company services the vast majority.

      2. Telephone companies are a natural monopoly, and Tarran’s comment is misleading. AT&T got into a monopoly position by the federal government turning them into one.

        FTFY

  19. forget the french fries. Why not go by everyone’s homes and empty out our penny jars & loose chain jars and the like. I mean, that left over money isn’t being used…

    1. Don’t give ’em any ideas, MBrown.

      1. More hording identified. AG, get to work.

        1. Good idea. People who hoard canned goods should have their excess confiscated.

          I’ve got some cans of white hominy and lima beans they can have. I’ll even throw them as they drive up so they won’t have to get out and come to the door.

          1. Same with ammunition that doesn’t have the (coming) $500 per round tax.

            1. Just protecting you from yourselves… it’s part of My job.

          2. I think you mean “whored”.

    2. Why not go by everyone’s homes and empty out our penny jars & loose chain jars and the like. I mean, that left over money isn’t being used…

      There’s no need – just steal the purchasing power of that cash by expanding the money and credit supply from thin air.

  20. The real question is whether it is a revocable escheat. If the unused minutes are unclaimed property that will be returned to the proper owner on demand as would be an “abandoned account” from a bank then I don’t see this as particularly heinous.

    1. How do you determine the property owner of a calling card?

      Even if there was a system in place the administrative cost would be higher than what those minutes are worth.

      For prepaid cell phones the owners certainly DON’T want the government to know who they are.

      1. > How do you determine the proper owner of a calling card?

        It’s not necessary to determine the proper owner, because calling cards are bearer instruments. Possession is proof of your right to the minutes.

        1. What I meant was their was no way for the government to determine the owner of a calling card.

          I can’t lose my calling card under my couch and be have my unused minutes returned to me by the government.

          So I do see it as heinous because there is no traceability like an “abandoned bank account”.

          1. Sure you can walk in there and say I own those minutes and show them the card.

            But, there is a huge administrative cost to that.

            and I do believe for things of reasonable value the government at least makes some attempt to find the rightful owner.

    2. Haha, Apparently some states do this with Gift Cards.

      http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/cc/20060127a1.asp

      “However, even though consumers will not find expiration dates on their gift cards, they are expected to use their gift cards within three years. Otherwise the state views the gift card as abandoned and the money escheats to the state. However, if a customer comes in after three years and obtains merchandise from the store using their unexpired gift card, the retailers can apply to get the money back from the state.”

  21. i prefer the concept of Deodands. i sacrifice all my unused minutes on a bloody altar. (the blood is from the occasional stray child who wanders on to my lawn)…

  22. “Unclaimed children will be sold as slaves.”

    1. I am NOT tying a Gordian slave knot in this hair!

      1. Gorean slave knot, Gorean slave knot, Gorean slave knot . . .

        Preview, preview, preview

        1. this from a quickie search… Gordian Knot – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

          Another search for gorian… The Gorian Knot : Columbia Journalism Review
          Jul 11, 2007 … The Gorian Knot. The environment and Al Gore, not the same thing … Indeed, fundamental to this newest Gorian Myth is his identity as a
          which one did you mean, suki?

          1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gor

            Feel free to click, but don’t blame me if you learn more about the sex habits of super nerds than you wanted to.

            =darwin

  23. The government should determine how much bandwidth I buy, how much I need and cruise around with laptops, skimming the difference…although if they jump on my network, I am going to jam them with goatse or something similar.

  24. This is bogus. According to the Terms and Conditions, “minutes do not expire”.

    6. AT&T will provide the benefits of this service until one or more of the following events occur:
    – AT&T discontinues the AT&T PrePaid Phone Service.
    – All available balances on your AT&T PrePaid Phone Card are depleted.
    – The expiration date of your AT&T PrePaid Phone Card is reached (where applicable). [See link]
    – Your AT&T PrePaid Phone Card may be suspended or terminated without notice if AT&T has reason to suspect fraudulent use.

    https://att.ecustomersupport.com/ATTLDExternalWeb/displayAllTermsAndConditions.do

    1. If the third bullet point occurs before the second, then whatever balance remains on the card (which is essentially a certain number of minutes) can no longer be used by the customer. So essentially, the minutes did expire.

  25. Next up, D.C. sues Burger King for stray fries that go uneaten after falling to the bottom of the drive-thru bag.

    No- I expect them to go after Dunkin Donuts, and seize all their unsold tasty treats.

    1. Actually, if you go into a Dunkin Donuts shortly before closing, they often hide extra donuts in your order. I call them Mandatory Bonus Donuts.

    2. Don’t the cops take care of that already?

    3. The Holes man! The Holes!

  26. The suit claims that AT&T should turn over unused balances on the calling cards of consumers [who] have not used the calling card for three years.

    1) Why not three *hours*?

    2) Better start taking over all those vacant lots etc. that aren’t being “used”.

    1. We did that!

      Not that we actually USED the property…

      1. …and they weren’t exactly vacant.

  27. If you want to see why DC is this desperate for money, there’s a map for that.

  28. Personally, I hope both sides lose. Every time I see the older, fatter Not Sure throwing postcards around to the wrong part of the US map, I’m like “go way, batin”.

  29. Your AT&T PrePaid Phone Card may be suspended or terminated without notice if AT&T has reason to suspect fraudulent use.

    I wonder what constitutes “fraudulent use”.

    1. Epi and SF should be the experts on that.

  30. Government is retarded.

    Anyone who works for the government is retarded.

    1. I can attest to that!

      1. Did the astronauts ever get the flag we left on Mars?

        1. I’m proof of that… look at the stupid shit I say, and I’m *still* Vice-President!

          Though they do keep me locked in the basement a lot these days…

  31. So if my business has a revolving line of credit with a bank, 80% of which is currently unused, can the D.C. government argue that this unclaimed credit escheats to the district?

    1. To them, it’s just a little piece of ewe.

  32. Didn’t they already try this one in Superman IV?

    1. Whoops, I guess it was III. With Richard Prior. Still, I had a feeling we’ve been down this road before.

  33. Wait! This gives me a better idea! DC must spend a fortune on phones, and many residents must pay a flat rate but might not be on the phone all day. Whey not sent DC employees out to people’s houses on a rotating basis to make all thier calls?

  34. You stay classy D.C.

  35. IMO, this is an attempt to set a precedent for further takings:

    Prepaid shopping cards
    Prepaid song downloads
    Prepaid anything

    This is the equivalent of the IRS coming to our houses to scrounge for couch change. Greedy bastards, working for a government that can’t seem to handle its finances, like a crack-addicted landlord coming by to collect a few dollars’ rent every thirty minutes or so…

  36. Next up will be virtual property.

    Think of the value of all that unclaimed property on WOW.

  37. The government should probably just fucking predetermine how much everyone needs of anything, give them less than that amount, and confiscate whatever is left over to prevent hoarding and profiting.

  38. Fuck this escheat shit. Unclaimed property should go to the next person who claims it. I thought that was the point of homesteading.

  39. Is DC a sovereign or does it have only such powers as Congress has given it?

  40. Not directly on topic but an indication of poor thinking:

    The Metro transit in the DC area switched from the paper electronic fare cards to plastic electronic fare cards. Last year Metro lost millions of dollars of found revenue from the paper cards thrown away with money left on them.

    1. If you throw it away, finders, keepers applies.

  41. It’s just a play on what the states do with “abandoned” bank accounts. It’s a scam.

  42. “States and municipalities have often similarly used unclaimed property laws, known as escheat laws, to claim ownership of unused retail gift card balances.””

    Expired is not unclaimed. The issue with cards expiring is not one of abandonment. It denies the consumer from using the product. This is not like $5 on a Barnes and Noble card that hasn’t been used in 2 year. The court will probably recognize the difference.

    1. “The court will probably recognize the difference.” methinks you place too much confidence in the courts…

  43. Can I get a refund on my unused parking meter minutes? I want to make a claim, but DC won’t let me.

    Parking meters is the analogy Radley should have used, not some stupid french fry thing.

    1. A few years back, the city of Pittsburgh “upgraded” its parking meters to electronic ones that erase the time left on them when you pull out. No more using someone’s leftover minutes.

  44. C’mon everybody, don’t ya know it’s unfair for the big company to profit when they practically steal from poor people.

    Companies like AT&T push a materialistic culture that forces people to buy more than they actually need, and then the corporate pigs gorge on the money they rip off from people.

    It’s cool that DC is sticking it to the man. With a few more lawsuits like this we won’t have social injustice anymore, at least not in DC.

  45. Att should agree and send them to one of those non-existent zip codes.

  46. It’s cool that DC is sticking it to the man.

    Nicely done, but I wonder how many are left who will see the irony.

  47. The more I hear about this, the more I just want to stand up and scream ‘How ’bout NO!’ to the government.

    This was ridiculous 1 year ago… now it’s pure unadulterated madness.

  48. I just flushed my unused food. Maybe I should start mailing it to DC. Wouldn’t wany to owe “back” taxes:)

  49. My gym membership gives me the right to use the gym all the time they’re open, but I only use it a small minority of that time. Maybe the govt should bill them for that time?

  50. Question: Why would most people prefer to deal with a Mafia protection racket than with the DC government?

    Answer: Because the Mafia actually provides a service after it shakes people down.

  51. Do you know where I can get a copy of the DC suit against AT&T for unused calling card minutes? I wasn’t able to find a copy on the DC court web site.

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  53. Pre-paid cards of all kinds are engaged in litigation. There are some really top notch providers out there, but they seem far and few between (eg. Pre-paid card breakdown)

    It’s too bad a few bad apples spoils the bunch.

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