Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Lawsuit Filed Against AT&T Over Inflated Data Charges

A man from California is filing a suit against AT&T saying that their data charges for Apple’s iPhone and iPad are inflated.

Patrick Hendricks, the frustrated AT&T customer that filed the suit, claims that the billing system that AT&T has adopted for their data plans is like a “rigged gas pump.” Hendricks is an AT&T iPhone user with a $15 per month data plan that allows him 200MB of data transactions. He said that late last year AT&T charged him for 259 individual data transactions that totaled 223MB; however, according to court documents, Hendricks claims that “many of these charges were phantom data transactions” that never really occurred.

A two-month review of Hendricks’s claim and other aspects surrounding the claim was conducted by an independent consulting firm that was hired by Hendricks’ lawyers. According to the lawsuit that was filed on Thursday, January 30, 2011 in the California district court, the consulting firm found that AT&T consistently overcharges their customers for their data plans by 7 to 14 percent.

The suit said that this proves that “AT&T's bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account.”

After the filing of the suit, AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for a comment.

Hendricks not only accuses AT&T of billing him for phantom data usage, but also for consistently overbilling him for legitimate data usage. The consulting firm that was investigating for Hendricks went to an AT&T store and purchased a iPhone. They then proceeded to turn off push notifications, location services, closed all apps, and did not enable e-mail on the phone. After a ten day trail period, AT&T still charged the phone for 35 data transactions that totaled 2,292KB of usage.

Hendricks said that although the overbilling really just has a “modest effect” on customers, for AT&T there is a “huge effect.” He claims that AT&T is receiving a “significant portion” of their data revenues from these inflated data transactions.

What Hendricks is really actually suing for is a breach of contract, unjust enrichment, and a few other things. Hendricks says that he wants damages as well as costs.

AT&T announced in June 2010 that it was revamping its system for the data plan lineups. The company decided to adopt a metered usage model in place of their old methods. They offered their customers 200MB of data for $15 per month, 2GB of data for $25 per month, and a tethering plan for $20 per month. They did allow for their existing customers to keep their unlimited data plans. There have also been recent reports that said that AT&T also allowed any of their customers who had downgraded their data plan within the last year to return to their unlimited status.

In late October the FCC said that to settle the compliant issues about the incorrect data charges Verizon Wireless would be forced to pay $25 million. This came just a few weeks after Verizon had said that they would issue refunds to over 15 million different customers who had found mistakes with their phone bills.

"Verizon Wireless works very hard to simplify the wireless experience for customers and to ensure that customer bills are accurate," Verizon said in a statement. "Nonetheless, internal billing processes can be complex and, in this case, we made inadvertent billing mistakes. We accept responsibility for those errors and apologize to our customers who received accidental data charges on their bills."

"We are notifying eligible current and former customers that we are applying credits to their accounts or sending refunds in October and November," the company said. "Current customers will be notified in upcoming bills; former customers will receive a letter and refund check in the mail. In most cases these credits and refunds are in the $2 to $6 range; some will receive larger amounts."

The settlement "sends a clear message to American consumers: The FCC has got your back," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "People shouldn't find mystery fees when they open their phone bills – and they certainly shouldn't have to pay for services they didn't want and didn't use. In these rough economic times, every $1.99 counts."

"Today's settlement also includes strong FCC oversight and accountability to ensure that Verizon Wireless fully repays what they owe to their customers and puts new measures in place to improve customer service," he said.

More recently than all of this stuff with Verizon, Microsoft has said that there have been inefficiencies between the synchronization of e-mail between the Windows Phone Mail client and Yahoo Mail, and this resulted in a much larger than expected data usage for certain users.

It looks as though AT&T will definitely be shelling out some big bucks when all of this is settled. It may just take a while to make it through the legal system.

Find out what is going on in the Tech Army World.

What are the Top 10 Money Making Missions?

What other companies have joined and what do they do?

How do I join the
Tech Army Organization ?

No comments:

Post a Comment

AirCards and Mobile HotSpot Rentals