Bullock: State Files Complaint Against AirTEL Wireless
Judge Issues Temporary Restraining Order Freezing Company Assets
HELENA – Attorney General Steve Bullock on Monday said that his office has taken legal action against AirTEL Wireless, a cell phone provider that operated in Montana until it abruptly closed its doors in February without reimbursing its customers.
The complaint against AirTEL Wireless, LLC, of Minnesota, and Alan Gingold, the company’s managing member, was filed in district court in Helena earlier this month. It charges AirTEL with violating Montana’s Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Act, saying the company owes Montana consumers over $106,000.
“AirTEL left Montana consumers high and dry. 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,” Bullock said. “Our ultimate goal in filing this suit is to get consumers at least some of their money back.”
Specifically, 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 purchaser. Defendants have never provided a refund for the services consumers paid for but did not receive.”
“It’s not good enough for AirTEL to say, ‘Sorry, but there’s nothing left.’” Bullock said. “We filed this complaint to make sure they say, ‘Sorry, and we’re going to make our customers whole.’”
Bullock indicated that the next step in the legal process is a hearing that will be scheduled within the next 20 days to consider whether the order freezing the company’s assets should remain in effect. However, the Attorney General said he remained hopeful that AirTEL would reach a settlement with the state rather than face a long battle in court.