AT&T Sued Over Alleged Overbilling for iOS Device Data Usage

114555 att logo 150

Courthouse News Service reports that AT&T has been hit with a new class action lawsuit alleging that the carrier is overbilling its customers for data transferred through its networks to iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad. According to the suit, AT&T is overstating the amount of data used for each transaction, leading some users to exceed their data plan limits and incur extra charges.

This one claims that "AT&T's bills systematically overstate the amount of data used on each data transaction involving an iPhone or iPad account," and bills customers for data transactions even if they disable their phones and leave them untouched - as the plaintiff's experts did.

The class says AT&T's billing system "is like a rigged gas tank that charges pump that charges for a full gallon when it pumps only nine-tenths of a gallon into your car's tank."

The filing describes how a consulting firm hired by the plaintiff's attorneys conducted a two-month study that found AT&T overstating data usage by 7-14%, with some transactions coming in at as much 300% above the actual amount of data transferred.

The complaint goes on to detail data transactions being recorded even when no data usage is being initiated by the customer, as determined by the company purchasing an iPhone and letting it sit with push notifications and location services disabled and with no applications open or other data-transferrring tasks enabled.

This was discovered by the same independent consulting firm, which purchased an iPhone from an AT&T store, immediately disabled all push notifications and location services, confirmed that no email account was configured on the phone, closed all applications, and let the phone sit untouched for 10 days. During this 10-day period, AT&T billed the test account for 35 data transactions totaling 2,292 KB of usage. This is like the rigged gas pump charging you when you never even pulled your car into the station."

PC World notes that the greater-than-expected data usage may in some cases be related to Apple's multitasking features deployed in iOS 4 that allow certain processes of applications to continue running in the background even after the applications themselves have been suspended by the user switching to a different application.

Many of those apps may be actively communicating and downloading data in the background. So, perhaps the data issues that users are seeing, and that AT&T is being accused of systematically overcharging for, are--at least in part--a function of the "virtues" of adding multitasking to iOS. I can tell you this: once we realized all of these apps were running and started manually shutting down all of the multitasking apps, my data usage issues went away.

While it is true that certain applications running in the background can utilize data, that explanation does not appear to account for the circumstances cited in the lawsuit, which involve alleged overstatement of data used in individual transactions and phantom data usage by devices configured not to use data services.

Popular Stories

RIP iPod Feature

RIP iPod: A Look Back at Apple's Iconic Music Player Over the Years

Friday May 13, 2022 2:25 pm PDT by
Apple earlier this week announced the discontinuation of the iPod touch, and because it was the last iPod still available for purchase, its sunsetting effectively marks the end of the entire iPod lineup. To send the iPod on its way, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at some of the most notable iPod releases over the last 21 years. Original iPod (2001) Introduced in October...
iOS 16 mock for article

Gurman: iOS 16 to Include New Ways of System Interaction and 'Fresh Apple Apps'

Sunday May 15, 2022 6:14 am PDT by
iOS 16 will include new ways of interacting with the system and some "fresh Apple apps," Bloomberg's Mark Gurman has said, offering some more detail on what Apple has in store for the upcoming release of iOS and iPadOS set to be announced in a few weeks at WWDC. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman wrote that while iOS 16 is not likely to introduce a major face-lift to...
maxresdefault

Unbox Therapy Shares Hands-On Look at iPhone 14 Pro Max Replica

Monday May 16, 2022 4:40 am PDT by
YouTuber Unbox Therapy has shared a hands-on look at the iPhone 14 Pro Max using what he claims is a one-to-one replica created by third-party case makers with access to detailed schematics and dimensions for Apple's new upcoming flagship smartphone. As with the iPhone 13 Pro lineup, in 2022, we are expecting a 6.1-inch iPhone 14 Pro and a 6.7-inch iPhone 14 Pro Max, but this time the Pro...
iOS 15

Apple Releases iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 With Wallet and Podcast Updates

Monday May 16, 2022 10:00 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5, the fifth major updates to the iOS and iPadOS 15 operating systems that were initially released in September 2021. iOS and iPadOS 15.5 come a little over two months after the launch of iOS 15.4 and iPadOS 15.4. The iOS 15.5 and iPadOS 15.5 updates can be downloaded for free and the software is available on all eligible devices over-the-air in...
14 16 inch 2021 mbps back to back feature orange

Five Things You Still Can't Do With a MacBook Pro

Wednesday May 11, 2022 11:16 am PDT by
It's been over 200 days since Apple debuted its redesigned MacBook Pro lineup. Offered in 14-inch and 16-inch display sizes, the new-look MacBooks wowed Apple fans and creative pros alike with their powerful custom Apple silicon, mini-LED screen, and multiple connectivity options. But there are still some things you can't do with a MacBook Pro. Here are five features some Mac users are still...
apple mac ipad watch trade in

Apple Launches Limited-Time Bonus Trade-In Credit for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple Watch in Many Countries

Wednesday May 11, 2022 5:14 am PDT by
Apple has launched a special limited-time offer for iPhone, Apple Watch, Mac, and iPad trade-in that offers customers additional credit when trading in their only device for a new one. The offer is being run in several countries including the US, UK, Germany, Spain, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, China, India, and France. In the UK, Apple is offering up to £50 of extra trade-in credit...
airpodsprodesign

Kuo: AirPods, MagSafe Battery Pack, and Other Apple Accessories Also to Switch to USB-C in Future

Sunday May 15, 2022 5:59 am PDT by
Earlier this week, well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple plans to release at least one iPhone 15 model with a USB-C port in 2023. Now, in a follow-up tweet, he has claimed that accessories like AirPods, the MagSafe Battery Pack, and the Magic Keyboard/Mouse/Trackpad trio would also switch to USB-C in the "foreseeable future." Both the iPhone and all of the aforementioned...