The courts may start getting tired of hearing cases regarding smartphones and carriers. We reported just yesterday that Apple was being sued by a disgruntled iPhone 4S user who was angry with Siri’s performance (or lack thereof) and now it seems AT&T is the latest to be hit by the smartphone-related lawsuit bug. And it looks like they’ll be divvying out some money to get the suit settled as soon as possible.
iPhone Data Throttling Irks AT&T User
Like many other longtime iPhone owners on the AT&T network, Matthew Spaccarelli has an unlimited data plan for his iPhone. Although these plans were made unavailable to new AT&T subscribers in 2010, those who already had unlimited data were allowed to keep it. AT&T calls this “grandfathering,” and it’s something that other carriers–such as Verizon–have also employed with their iPhone, Android and other smartphone users.
Spaccarelli received a text message notification on his iPhone from AT&T that said he would have his data speeds throttled if he did not reduce his iPhone data usage. Spaccarelli felt that this was a violation of his contract with AT&T (according to Spaccarelli, AT&T “broke its promise to provide unlimited service.”) and decided to file a small claims suit with a court in Simi Valley.
Small Claims Court Suit Win
Somewhat surprisingly, Spaccarelli actually won his small claims court suit on February 24. At the time, the judge in the case ordered AT&T to pay $850 to Spaccarelli for their failure to live up to the contract for his iPhone.
The reason why we say “somewhat surprisingly,” is that Spaccarelli won this $850 award despite the fact that he tethered his iPhone to his computer without purchasing the required data plan. As some may know, this is a violation of the terms of service (TOS) that AT&T makes its subscribers sign, so technically, AT&T did have the right to throttle Spaccarelli’s data because he was not complying with the contract. However, the judge apparently didn’t see it that way.
AT&T Seeks to Quietly Settle Court Suit with iPhone User
Despite the fact that AT&T is justified in throttling or even suspending Spaccarelli’s iPhone service in this case, they still seem quite keen to settle. And it’s for good reason: the idea that they are throttling–or slowing down a user’s data speed once they reach a certain usage criteria–is something that many people will not be happy about.
At this point, no one knows how much AT&T is offering to settle the iPhone data case for–but we do know that they’re appealing the February 24th judgment, so it appears that they won’t be offering Spaccarelli any more than the $850 previously awarded.
What This Means for You
If you currently have an iPhone on either AT&T or Verizon and happen to have unlimited data, take note: unlimited data does not mean you can use as much data as you want. Once you hit a certain level–usually 3 gigabytes or more of data consumption–you will be penalized by your carrier, either through data throttling or removal of your unlimited plan. So use your data wisely.
What Do You Think?
Did Spaccarelli deserve the $850 award despite technically violating his agreement with AT&T? Do you think it’s fair that AT&T is data throttling its iPhone and other smartphone using customers? Leave us a comment below and make your opinion heard.