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AT&T Accused of Systematically Overcharging for Data

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A class action lawsuit is alleging that AT&T is systematically overcharging customers on data usage. After running tests, the lawyers behind the suit say that on almost every transaction there is an over charge. In addition, as a part of their testing, they found that a brand new iPhone, that had just about everything that could cause a data transfer turned off for a period of days, yielded 35 transactions that counted against the accounts cap.

And that’s where this story become intriguing-data caps. We all know they are with us currently and probably for some time down the road, but as you can see in the video, we’re not always aware of how our devices consume data that counts towards that cap. Of course AT&T says the suit is without merit and we (or rather the complainants) don’t understand how these things work. Hmm? I guess my response to that is two-fold. Certainly it is a customer’s responsibility to know what they are agreeing to, but it should also be incumbent upon the seller to make sure we know exactly what it is we are agreeing to. Caveat emptor.

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Warner Crocker is a professional theatre director, producer and playwright and also a Tablet PC enthusiast. He is also a Microsoft MVP for Tablet PCs. Send email to Warner. You can follow him on Twitter or Google+

4 Comments

  1. Curtiss Grymala

    05/19/2011 at 3:36 pm

    “a brand new iPhone, that had just about everything that could cause a data transfer turned off”

    I’d be curious to know who determined what those elements were. What does “just about everything” mean? Unless the phone was set to Airplane Mode, chances are pretty substantial that the iPhone was sending and receiving some sort of data during those few days; even if the user wasn’t aware of it.

    On a slightly different tip, when I first got my Windows Phone 7 device, it used almost 300 megabytes of data in a single night. After a lot of investigation (with which AT&T was extremely cooperative), I found that the way Yahoo! Mail was implemented on the device (a lot of back and forth went on between MS and Yahoo! about who was at fault for the issue) caused extreme data usage.

    I’d also be curious to see what kind of results might be experienced if using an iPhone with the exact same settings (as much as possible, since they are slightly different devices) on the Verizon network.

    I agree with you about the consumer needing to be aware of what they’re getting into; but life rarely works that way. How many people do you know that actually sit down and read the manuals that come with their phones, cars, computers, etc. before they use them? AT&T does offer tools to allow the user to monitor their data usage (they even send me text messages when I reach 65%, 80% and 100% of my data allotment in case I’m not actively monitoring my usage). I’m honestly not sure what more they can do other than removing the data caps altogether.

    • Anonymous

      05/19/2011 at 5:09 pm

      Like not discovering in the fine print that the company you are dealing with has redefined the word “unlimited”, which they used on the front cover to lure you in, now means some slight fixed amount?

      Buyers, consumers certainly have some responsibility – that does not alleviate the seller from any and all of it.

  2. Nb3

    05/19/2011 at 3:47 pm

    Thank you for investigating this.  We had a $47.55 charge for data last month on my daughter’s phone and many usages were recorded while she was sleeping.  Plus, she doesn’t know how to use the internet and never has used it on her phone or computer.   Every month I call and every month they take it off the bill. But what about those people that don’t look at their bills.   Also we are getting charges for information calls and monthly $9.95 charges for companies that automatically sign up us up for various things ie prize lines, auctions etc.  A T&T says these companies text to our phones and if we just delete and don’t answer “no” to the text we will be automatically signed up.     What a rip off.      

  3. HTC Incredible Remove data cap

    05/24/2011 at 2:02 am

    Droid Incredible’s data can now be removed.

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