As many consumers try to get a better deal on their wireless service, they may find themselves inundated with unlimited data plan lawsuits. These cases have been brought by customers and have several different outcomes. Here are some of the most common examples. The lawsuits are often filed against carriers like AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile. But what can you do? How can you prevent yourself from getting ripped off?
Many consumers were disappointed when their data limit was throttled when they tried to use their AT&T Wireless Unlimited Data Plan. The company has been using this practice since 2011, slowing down Internet speeds when customers tried to surf too much. As a result, 3.5 million AT&T customers experienced internet speed slowdowns 12 times per month. Thousands of people filed lawsuits claiming that their data usage was being throttled.
The lawsuit was filed in federal court, and the company has since paid out the settlement in cash or as a bill credit. However, consumers must be eligible to receive the settlement. It’s important to understand that the settlement is a win for consumers and a significant victory for the wireless industry. In addition, the settlement will help AT&T recover millions in back-pay from subscribers. Those eligible to receive the settlement should search for their ID#.
The lawsuits filed against T-Mobile stem from the company’s failure to adequately inform customers of the limitations of the “unlimited” data plans. The carriers marketed the plans as unlimited, but they had a cap of 17 gigabytes per month. The company failed to disclose this limit before June 2015.
The lawsuit alleges that T-Mobile misled consumers into purchasing “Unlimited Web and Email” plans. Once the consumers signed a contract, they found that the data they had paid for was limited to 10GB. In response, they were suddenly unable to use the data they had purchased. The lawsuit filed against T-Mobile in Yolo County, California, claims that the advertisements and sales representatives falsely described the data plans as unlimited.
There have been several lawsuits against Verizon in California, and one of them claims that the company has improperly charged consumers for their unlimited data plans. Plaintiffs allege that Verizon violated California law by illegally collecting more than $1 billion in additional charges for its customers. The lawsuit claims that Verizon violated the Consumers Legal Remedies Act, False Advertising Law, and Unfair Competition Law, and seeks injunctive relief and damages for these “Administrative Charges.” Although Verizon has been facing these types of lawsuits for several years, these cases are particularly difficult to prove.
The latest case against Verizon involves a fire department that was hampered by a speed reduction after it reached a certain amount of data. Firefighters in Santa Clara County were unable to get their jobs done during the Mendocino Complex Fire, a wildfire the size of Rhode Island. Verizon executives said that the fire department would have to pay by the gigabyte to use the Internet without being throttled.
In a class action lawsuit filed in California, customers are complaining about being tricked into paying more than their phones are worth by the wireless carrier. The CFPB and the Federal Communications Commission worked together to resolve these claims and have gained valuable assistance from the Enforcement Bureau. They allege that Sprint violated state consumer protection laws in the cramming process, which forces consumers to make monthly payments that are more than their phones are worth.
One lawsuit alleges that Sprint charges a Premium Data Add-On fee that does not apply to 4G service or premium data content. The company does not provide premium content to consumers in exchange for this fee. Further, the term ‘Premium Data Add-On’ is not defined in Sprint’s terms and conditions. It is a made-up term, which charges additional money for data services that Sprint was already required to provide under its existing contracts.
U.S. Cellular has been accused of misusing its customers’ personal information without consent, but the company says the data is only used in the course of providing broadband Internet access, enforcing agreements and terms of service, and in the event of a corporate reorganization. The company also says the information it collects is necessary to prevent fraud and abusive use of its services.
Another case alleges that consumers who sign up for an unlimited data plan often face data limits. The lawsuit says Walmart and TracFone Wireless are guilty of false advertising, as their customers are routinely throttled and terminated without warning. While neither company cites specific causes, they claim throttling occurs when subscribers exceed internal data limits or network towers are stressed. Regardless of the reason, consumers should be aware of the possibility of being cheated out of their data.