AT&T gets spanked for throttling user

February 25, 2012

You probably won’t get true unlimited data back, but you could get hundreds of dollars in compensation from Ma Bell, not to mention the satisfaction of beating them in court. Although you will have to do the legal legwork yourself, the potential rewards are large and, if enough people jump in, could make Ma Bell regret contractually blocking subscribers from class action lawsuits.

A small claims court judge has ruled against AT&T awarded an iPhone user. Why? Because AT&T promised him unlimited data and then throttled his connection speed after hit an arbitrary data usage ceiling.

USA Today reports Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Matt Spaccarelli against the carrier, saying it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone despite having sold him an “unlimited data” plan.

In a nutshell, Spaccerelli reasoned that AT&T was unreasonable for two reasons: 1.) he had an $30 “unlimited” plan and 2.) he used on average 1.5 to 2 GB of data while AT&T offers a $30 plan with 3GB. And, the judge agreed.

AT&T has some 17 million customers with “unlimited data” plans who can be subject to throttling. That’s nearly half of its smartphone users. AT&T forbids them from consolidating their claims into a class action or taking them to a jury trial. That leaves small claims actions and arbitration” — USA Today.

Even if only a small percentage of those subscribers filled against Ma Bell in small claims court, the company could find itself dispatching phalanxes of lawyers around the country to quell the revolt. Moreover, in cases where AT&T doesn’t have anyone in court, judges will likely issue summary rulings in favor of the plaintiffs.

For example, and I’m completely pulling these numbers out of the air, if 10,000 people took AT&T to court and got the same modest $850 settlement, that’s $8.5 million even before considering any legal expenses.

Wow. Now who’s tired of AT&T’s “unlimited data” lies?

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