Imagine, you top up your phone account to stay connected with a loved one in prison. Calls are already pricey, but you swallow the cost. Then, months later, you find out the company you paid snatched a chunk of your unused credit, claiming it “inactive.” That’s the crux of the GTL lawsuit in California, and it’s got folks fuming.
Global Tel*Link (GTL), a bigwig in prison phone services, faced a class-action lawsuit alleging they siphoned money from inactive “AdvancePay” accounts after just 180 days, even if calls were still possible. Think of it like a parking meter that starts ticking down the moment you step out, even if you’re just grabbing a coffee. Ouch.
The plaintiffs – families and friends who used GTL services – argued this practice was unfair and deceptive. They claimed GTL hid the policy in fine print, leaving many unaware of the disappearing credit. Like finding a sock-eating dryer, only with your hard-earned cash.
Now, the plot thickens. In 2022, GTL settled the lawsuit, agreeing to a $67 million payout. Part of that goes back to those affected, offering refunds or account credits. They also promised to change their inactivity policy, giving accounts more breathing room before the cash grab.
But is this the end of the story? Not quite. Some critics argue the settlement doesn’t address the broader issue of exorbitant prison phone rates, which disproportionately burden low-income families. It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a broken leg – sure, it stops the bleeding, but the underlying issue remains.
The GTL lawsuit serves as a stark reminder of the power imbalances at play in the prison phone industry. It raises questions about corporate transparency, fairness, and the human cost of high communication fees. While the settlement offers some relief, it’s crucial to keep the conversation going and advocate for more equitable systems that connect incarcerated individuals with their loved ones, without breaking the bank.
Who was affected by the GTL lawsuit?
Anyone who used GTL’s “AdvancePay” service for prison phone calls between 2011 and 2021 could be eligible for compensation.
How much can I get back?
The amount varies depending on how much you spent and your individual circumstances. You can check the settlement website for more details.
Has GTL changed its inactivity policy?
Yes, they’ve agreed to wait at least 180 days before seizing funds from inactive accounts.
Is this the only lawsuit against GTL?
No, there have been other legal challenges related to their business practices.
What can I do to help?
You can contact your elected officials and urge them to support reforms that lower prison phone rates and increase transparency in the industry.
Where can I learn more?
You can find more information about the lawsuit and the settlement on the GTL Prepaid Settlement website: https://gtlprepaidsettlement.com/Home/portalid/0