Sprint to settle for $19m in messaging charges dispute

The U.S.' third-largest mobile network Sprint is to settle in a case in which customers were charged more than they should have been for seemingly "unlimited" messaging tariffs.

Sprint Nextel has agreed to settle for $19 million following a case brought by customers who accused the phone giant of imposing unnecessary charges to their bills.

Sprint users on the "Everything Messaging" plan received additional charges for picture messaging, even though they were entitled to "unlimited nationwide text, picture, and video messaging" as per the tariff guide.

Customers accused the third-largest network in the U.S. of failing to inform them of the charges, or "how to properly use their phones and avoid unnecessary charges," according to Reuters.

While Sprint denied any wrongdoing, it is understood the phone company agreed to settle to avoid the vast cost of litigation --- and, of course --- to spare the customers.

Sprint will offer affected customers compensation --- those between January 2008 and June 2012 --- between a choice of free service, fee waivers, gift cards, or cash, according to the court papers.

Also in the papers, Sprint will pay $3 million for the cash payments and other administrative costs, while the customers' lawyers will receive $3.5 million in fees.

If you thought multimedia messaging was "so 2005" in today's market of free photo upload services like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, the mobile networks still send more than 50 billion messages last year, according to the CTIA.

The court will convene on July 16 to approve the settlement.