AT&T Mobility has been socked with a class action lawsuit claiming the company overcharges iPad and iPhone subscribers for data usage. The plaintiff in the case claims they purchased a new iPhone and completely turned off any functions that would use cellular data. After 10 days of sitting idle, the device clocked charges for 2.3 kilobytes transferred over 35 transactions.
Although this isn't a whole lot of data, it could point to a problem with millions of subscribers tallying up phantom data usage. Additional claims in the lawsuit point to independent studies accusing AT&T of overclocking web data usage by 7-14 percent per transaction, with instances of up to 300 percent.
Individual users may not feel the pinch of small inaccuracies in data transaction measurement, however AT&T did move to a capped data plan on the iPhone and iPad. The company has been reinstating unlimited iPhone data plans to help compete against an upcoming Verizon iPhone with unlimited data. Anything that brings a user closer to the data limit is unwelcome.
The focus isn't just on individual users, as the suit claims AT&T is padding its bottom line by ratcheting up data usage numbers. The lawsuit accuses AT&T of breach of contract, unjust enrichment, unfair competition, violating the Federal Communications Act, and unfair and fraudulent business practices. The class action seeks damages and restitution for the claims.AT&T Mobility has responded to the accusations and will fight the lawsuit:
Transparent and accurate billing is a top priority for AT&T. In fact, we’ve created tools that let our customers check their voice and data usage at any time during their billing cycle to help eliminate bill surprises. We have only recently learned of the complaint, but I can tell you that we intend to defend ourselves vigorously.
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Apple was sued in a class action only days ago over iPhone 4 glass breakage. Both companies have fended off a long list of lawsuits since the release of the first iPhone in 2007.