State files complaint against AirTEL Wireless
June 16, 2009
Attorney General Steve Bullock said Monday that his office has taken legal action against AirTEL Wireless. The cell phone provider abruptly shut down its operation in Montana in February without reimbursing its customers. The complaint agains t Ai rTEL Wi reles s LLC of Minnesota, and Alan Gingold, the company's principal shareholder, was filed in District Court in Helena. It charges AirTEL w i t h v i o l a t i n g Montana's Unfai r Trade Pract ices and Consumer Protection Act. Bullock says the company owes Montana consumers more than $106,000. Gingold did not immediately reply to a message left Monday on his home telephone in Wayzata, Minn. The voicemail system at the company's Minneapolis number did not provide an option to leave a message. “AirTEL left Montana consumers high and dry,” Bullock said. “Even when the company knew it was going out of business, it continued to take money for services it knew it would never deliver, and that's not right. Our ultimate goal in filing this suit is to get consumers at least some of their money back.” The complaint charges that AirTEL “continued to sell goods and services to consumers despite knowing that they were going out of business and knowing that the services being sold to consumers would have no value to the purchas e r. Defendants have never provided a refund for the services consumers paid for but did not receive.” Bullock says a hearing will be scheduled within the next 20 days to consider whether a court order freezing the company's assets should remain in effect. He added that he hopes AirTEL will reach a settlement with the state rather than go through lengthy court proceedings.