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AT&T Sued For Systematic iPhone Overbilling

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the so-android-users-are-left-in-the-cold? dept.

Crime 265

Hugh Pickens writes writes "UPI reports that AT&T is facing a lawsuit that says AT&T routinely bills for 7 percent to 14 percent more data transactions than normally take place, which could blossom into a costly class-action case. Court papers claim that attorneys set up a test account for an iPhone, then closed all of its apps and left the device unused for 10 days. AT&T still billed the account for 2,292 KB of usage. 'A significant portion of the data revenues were inflated by AT&T's rigged billing system for data transactions,' say court papers filed on behalf of AT&T customer Patrick Hendricks. 'This is like the rigged gas pump charging you when you never even pulled your car into the station.' Attorneys say they would file to have the case moved to class-action status, which makes the outcome relevant to all of AT&T's iPhone accounts."

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AT&T's Fault? (4, Insightful)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078678)

Nothing in the article shows how it couldn't have been the phone itself doing it, not AT&T doing it. If the device is ON, but not being used, well, there's a lot of shit that goes on in the back-end of things, like update checking, etc...

Re:AT&T's Fault? (4, Insightful)

nhstar (452291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078706)

Agreed. It would be interesting to know if they ran the same test with the data service actually turned off on the phone. Then I'd start to see fault with the carrier.

Accident or intentional? (2, Informative)

h00manist (800926) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078818)

AT&T is Apple's partner and should be fully aware this happens. If it's a technical issue, there should be warnings and workaround, preventive measures. There is little info on how to prevent extra charges on the phones, for obvious reasons. I've also noticed many phones make it rather easy to accidentally dial numbers.

Re:Accident or intentional? (3, Insightful)

Eraesr (1629799) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078924)

I've also noticed many phones make it rather easy to accidentally dial numbers.

Oh yeah they totally do this on purpose

Re:Accident or intentional? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079020)

Oh yeah they totally do this on purpose

I disagree. What would be the point of purposefully making phones that easily dial numbers accidentally? Sure, to rack up some extra calls on the phone bill, but I think the potential impact from bad reviews would make manufacturer/carrier alliances not decide to do such a thing.

Re:Accident or intentional? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079224)

Fuck you moron troll!

Re:Accident or intentional? (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078964)

On the other hand, ATT could claim they are not responsible for Phones sending data, and the user should have checked into that prior to signing-up. Just like the old Dialup ISPs said they are not responsible for long-distance charges incurred.

Reminds me of this story - Verizon Can't Do Math - The operator quoted "point zero zero two cents per kilobyte" * 35,500 KB == 71 cents
Verizon charged 71 dollars.
http://verizonmath.blogspot.com/2006/12/verizon-doesnt-know-dollars-from-cents.html [blogspot.com]

Re:Accident or intentional? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079290)

Extra data, no. Extra charges, yes. I've mentioned elsewhere that I've only come close to the 200MB limit once in 6-7 months of use. I got text messages three times before I hit either 90 or 95% of my usage, notifying me that I was getting close to my limit.

In practice, unless you happen to be in an area with per-MB metered charges(perhaps roaming?), this will affect the very small number of people who are right at their limit each month (190MB+/200 or 1990MB/2000), which if probably a pretty small number. It's still sucks, and they should still own up to the extra data they're using which is non-discretionary.

Re:Accident or intentional? (1)

peragrin (659227) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079438)

I have the old unlimited plan and i routinely get more than 350mb a month. just visiting slashdot, ars, and two other tech news sites. no youtube, and very rarely an app download.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

TiZon (1951856) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078708)

Indeed... If they would of have turned 3G/Data off, OK. But it is never stated....

Re:AT&T's Fault? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078846)

> If they would of have

Would HAVE. HAVE.

Please, think logically about your language before distorting it through laziness.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078954)

Mod parent up!

Re:AT&T's Fault? (3, Interesting)

Gaygirlie (1657131) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078710)

The article indeed doesn't give much information, but it does say they disabled a bunch of running services on the phone, and left it unattended for only 10 days. 10 days, with no apps on and no user interaction is simply too little to rack up 3 megabytes of data. As a reference point I don't own an iPhone so I don't know how relevant it is, but my N900 only racks up about 25kb-100kb a day at max if I turn off mail-checking, even less if I disable automatic updates. As such I can't help but feel the 3MB of data for 10 days is indeed inflated.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078810)

Might depend on how data's billed. Some providers round up to the nearest whatever, and if that whatever is 10kb I could see the occasional 1kb push service handshake message, or something, causing a lot of data usage.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078848)

I don't understand why any phone should be sending data (and wasting customers' money). My Nokia Shorty phone doesn't send any data, except the standard "I am here" via SMS texting to the local towers (and that isn't considered data).

If I had one of those phones that is sending "background" data back to Microsoft or Google or Apple, I'd be billed at $1 per megabyte, which would suck.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (2)

pthisis (27352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079160)

I don't understand why any phone should be sending data (and wasting customers' money).

It shouldn't be wasting customer's money; the iPhone was designed to be used only with unlimited data plans (precisely so that Apple could have it do all kinds of "user-friendly" junk in the background without the customer paying for it), and for years after it was introduced you were required to have such a plan with it. AT&T moved that rug out from under it a year ago or so.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079306)

the iPhone was designed to be used only with unlimited data plans

Citation?

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079088)

It's an iPhone, it just works. Apparently even when you don't want it to. Simplicity.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079194)

The article indeed doesn't give much information ... my N900 only racks up about 25kb-100kb a day at max if I turn off mail-checking ... As such I can't help but feel the 3MB of data for 10 days is indeed inflated.

People like you are the problem with western society today.

You purport strong conclusions based on nothing but your incidental personal anecdotes and "feelings". Assuming your example is even correct at all, you state that your phone uses up to 100 KB/day without mail checking enabled. That is approximately 1 MB over a 10 day period, or about half of what the lawsuit claims the AT&T iPhone used.

Any number of things could account for the iPhone using twice as much data for similar operations. Perhaps Apple uses an inefficient data serialization mechanism to transmit requests and responses over the network for update checking. Maybe it checks for updates twice as often. Maybe the fact that visual voicemail uses data plays a role.

Point is that maybe from your uninformed point of view it makes sense that you should "feel" like 2 MB is too much (as the article states 2 MB, not 3 MB), but I highly doubt that you could back that up with real data that would stand up to peer review.

A wise man once said "assume ignorance not malice".

I should add that underworked attorneys are filing BS lawsuits like this all across the country in a desperate attempt to generate some cash. The cases are often dismissed and if not they rarely if ever go to trial. The pleadings and early motions are expressly designed by the plaintiffs to generate a quick cash settlement from the defendant to avoid the extremely expensive e-discovery procedures, and the damaging process of establishing a national class.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079500)

People like you are the problem with western society today.

You purport strong conclusions based on nothing but your incidental personal anecdotes and "feelings".

How do you not see the irony there?

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079528)

Look, if the guy turned off as many running processes as he could find, one byte is too much. He was sold a phone, he went to (at least) the lengths that an ordinary consumer would go to to avoid being charged for data, and he got charged for data anyway. That's, effectively, the end of the story. What does a non-geek care why the phone is using data when idle. He made every attempt not to, and the phone (whose software was never completely under the control of the user) consumed data anyway. It's no different than if the phone started making calls on its own, without the user's consent (and with the user making active attempts to stop it) and then the user getting billed for these calls.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079560)

I should add that underworked attorneys are filing BS lawsuits like this all across the country

Your name wouldn't be Randall Stephenson, would it?

Re:AT&T's Fault? (2)

scubamage (727538) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079586)

I disagree that this is a BS lawsuit. If the user is not interacting with the phone at all, and the user is getting billed purely because of data that the phone is using in the background (not due to user interaction) AT&T should be aware of this. Even if its administrative overhead, the fact is the user isn't generating it and so they shouldn't be billed for it. If they are going to be billed, there should be a disclosure at purchase time stating "this phone will generate X bytes of data every N minutes even without user interaction, so be prepared to see that on your bill."

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078714)

Sure, but without the /customer/ initiating the data when they got the phone from AT&T in the first place, should the customer be liable for those data charges?

Nobody's denying that the data transactions are taking place, that's "proven" via the experiment described in TFA, the question is who pays for it.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079366)

I hate to side with the carriers and Apple on this, but yes they should. You bought a smartphone and allowed it to access the 3G network as needed, knowing that the phone will use data from time to time. If you don't want it to use 3G data, don't allow it to use 3G data unless you explicitly tell it to do so. I do that with my Nokia by removing the username/password combo from the access points' properties, so it can never use 3G/EDGE data without asking me first.

Maybe Apple doesn't make it clear that the device will use 3G in the manual. Maybe the salespeople don't mention that to potential buyers. In those cases, maybe the complaint has a point; but complaining that a data-hungry device uses data is simply ridiculous.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078742)

Nothing in the article shows how it couldn't have been the phone itself doing it, not AT&T doing it.

The phones are typically purchased through a contract with AT&T. What difference does it make whether it's the phone, or the cell tower, or some bit of equipment in the exchange etc. etc. It's AT&T who are responsible to the customer for any irregularities in data use or billing when they provide the device and they run the network.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (2)

Kneo24 (688412) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078756)

I don't get the attitude around here. When Microsoft's latest phone had unexplained data usage, no one blamed the carrier, they blamed the people who designed the phone -- Microsoft. Now I'm not going to fully disagree with you here. I think the carrier should assume some responsibility, but to what extent it's their responsibility, I'm not sure.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

Custard Horse (1527495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078780)

Wasn't that buggy software designed by MS though which they admitted to? This article seems to suggest that the charge for data is over and above the actual data used.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078974)

No, the problem was Yahoo! Mail. Read article here: http://www.engadget.com/2011/02/01/windows-phone-7-phantom-data-leaker-unmasked-as-yahoo-mail-fi/

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

49152 (690909) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078762)

Were the phone and the service sold as separate deals? I think that might be an important point.

Many places in the world iPhones are only sold as a bundled device with a service plan from a specific provider and the phone and service can be seen as 'one product'.

I do not know if that is the case here, but in such a case it does not seem fair that the customer is charged for traffic he did not initiate. The provider who sold him the phone + service plan should be responsible for the behavior of the product as a whole.

Of course, if you buy the phone and service separately I guess you'll be on your own.

Disclaimer: IANAL and this post just reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the matter.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (3, Insightful)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078778)

Not that people need proof or anything to sue these days, but...

  1. I would have had (at least) one phone with it's battery out (or dead, or both)
  2. Another phone with all it's services turned off, and the phone turned off.
  3. Another phone with all it's services turned off, and the phone left on
  4. Another with it's services on, and the phone off
  5. Another with it's services on, and the phone on

I would then take a second group of all the above phones, and a few times a day, send them a phone call (unanswered) and a text message (unread).

(For the sake of cost efficiency, you could use just one phone in all the above states, it'd just take longer)

Ideally, the phones that are off or dead should have no consumption, those that are on or have services running should have more. There's a non-zero chance the off-but-not-dead are in a "vampire" state, and will still draw a trickle of data.

More "newsyle" fuckup (3, Informative)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078876)

Slashdot: Stop fucking around with basic HTML elements! The above has an OL in it.  Okay, all you user style people, time for another entry in the "red pen" edition of Slashdot css:

.commentBody ul, .commentBody ul li
{
  list-style: circle !important;
  margin-left:25px !important;
}

.commentBody ol, .commentBody ol li
{
  list-style: decimal !important;
  margin-left:25px !important;
}

Re:More "newsyle" fuckup (3, Informative)

popo (107611) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079282)

Uh.. the OL seems to be working for me. I'm using FF 3.6

Re:More "newsyle" fuckup (2)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079362)

FF 3.6.13, using D1 discussion system. Both UL and OL are set to list-style: none.

Re:More "newsyle" fuckup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079338)

OL renders correctly, Chromium 8.0.5 Ubuntu 10.10

Re:More "newsyle" fuckup (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079398)

dude.. why bother fixing slashdot when even 4chan is more relevant to nerds these days?

this place is dying since it turned from tech to politics in 2001...

slashdot is run by AC oppressing FUD-nazis... AC made this place great 10 years ago..

then AC wasn't needed anymore and it moved on to 4chan...

Re:More "newsyle" fuckup (1)

tater86 (628389) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079436)

I'm seeing an ordered list in firefox 3.6.13 without any css editing.

Re:More "newsyle" fuckup (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079506)

I'm not clear what your beef is?

The OL seems to be rendering acceptably, even in my antiquated IE7 (except for a minor indent issue, which is hardly worth ranting about...).

If you're going to say something is bad, you should at least say why it's bad....

Re:AT&T's Fault? (4, Insightful)

daniorerio (1070048) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078884)

Maybe they did, but the phones turned off didn't get billed so they're not mentioned?

From the provider's point of view it is pretty easy to determine if a phone was actually on or not, so if you're going to overbill it's probably wise to overbill phones that were actually turned on...

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078968)

Not that people need proof or anything to sue these days, but...

  1. I would have had (at least) one phone with it's battery out (or dead, or both)
  2. Another phone with all it's services turned off, and the phone turned off.
  3. Another phone with all it's services turned off, and the phone left on
  4. Another with it's services on, and the phone off
  5. Another with it's services on, and the phone on

I would then take a second group of all the above phones, and a few times a day, send them a phone call (unanswered) and a text message (unread).

(For the sake of cost efficiency, you could use just one phone in all the above states, it'd just take longer)

Ideally, the phones that are off or dead should have no consumption, those that are on or have services running should have more. There's a non-zero chance the off-but-not-dead are in a "vampire" state, and will still draw a trickle of data.

That's a good scientific study. But these are lawyers, at least they have something. For lawyers that's good.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

xenobyte (446878) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079314)

They also missed the obvious test: Two or more *identical* phones with everything tuned off except the basic interface, each on a different network. They way, data sent by the phone even when everything is turned off will be revealed, as will inflation if it happens.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078808)

They'll probably settle out of court.
Offer to give customers refunds.
And I'll get a $50 check like I did with the Paypal and CD Companies lawsuits.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

Fusen (841730) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078824)

The only extra info I could find was this; "The lawsuit also said the consulting firm bought an iPhone and turned off all apps and services -- location services, push notifications, even e-mail. The consulting firm said it received data charges from 35 data transactions over 10 days, totaling about 2.3 MB. "

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

Luckyo (1726890) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079096)

This actually sounds to be small enough to be caused by a number of potential software issues with the phone itself.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (4, Interesting)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078838)

So your argument is that if AT&T builds in an app that checks with AT&T for updates, and can't be disabled, AT&T should be able to bill customers for the privilege of having that update checker? Because the phone in question was running no applications whatsoever.

The obligatory car analogy: Do you think it would be ok for automakers to charge customers for the privilege of replacing recalled parts? (especially considering the Fight Club math of cost of recall >= probability of failure * units sold * average court settlement)

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078860)

Possible candidates:
- renewal of DHCP leases
- NNTP/clock synchronization
- replies (e.g., RST packets) to Internet "garbage"
- etc.
These attornies are loosing their time and reputation on this one.

maybe it's like cable arp packets and some cable s (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079316)

maybe it's like cable arp packets and some cable systems count as part of your cap.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (2)

oreaq (817314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079036)

TFA is light on details but the court filing [courthousenews.com] states that all push notifications, e-mail checking etc. were turned off on the iPhone.

That's why it costs $60/mo just to have service (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079046)

Your basic phone fee should be covering the health and status traffic to your handset. That basic fee covers their fixed infrastructure and handset traffic costs. The advertising for metered data, and the consumer expectation, is that the 200MB (or 2GB) allotment is discretionary, whereas it appears that there may very well be a 5% or greater "overhead" you're getting charged for.

I've come close to my 200MB limit once, when I was on vacation and the hotel wifi was not free. I looked up all the "stuff" the familly was going to do on my phone, used it for maps, and generally spent a lot of time on the web while they rested between events. I didn't go over, but I would have had a bit more cushion if there were actually 10+MB of health/status transfers on top of my discretionary usage. (FWIW, I usually use about 60MB/mo; I use my phone for work so I'm constantly on email and calendars, but rarely stream anything)

Re:That's why it costs $60/mo just to have service (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079300)

Just for reference...
I have a DroidX supplied by my employer. I use it for corporate mail, some Google services (gmail, voice, reader, maps etc) and light duty web browsing like finding gas prices, local restaurants etc. The corporate mail is set for push and periodic updates. I don;t feel like I am using it a lot. I average about 250-300MB a month through the carrier. All day at work and when I am home, it defaults to using wireless.

Excellent! New Business Model. (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079052)

Carrier sells phone to customer.
Phone has s**twad of carrier apps that do 'update checking, etc...' to generate automatic traffic.
Profit! Profit! Profit!
As a quasi-ludite I have no cell phone, do you mean to tell me that automatic backround data transmissions and their potential impact on the bill are not stated up front in the contract?

Re:AT&T's Fault? (1)

neosaurus (1621105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079262)

We've experienced this with the iPhone 4. I've had the second generation iPhone which is the primary phone and the iPhone 4 which is on WiFi on all days except on the weekend. iPhone 2 with unlimited data plan didn't go over 200 Mb per month for two and a half years but the iPhone 4 transferred 65 Mb **when the phone was on WiFi**. And the data transfers were at odd hours. And this was with the phone on it's default settings, no apps and all notifications turned off. Sure enough we talked to AT&T about this who just told us to complain to Apple. We went ahead and filed a complaint with FCC.

Re:AT&T's Fault? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079606)

They bashed windows phone 7 cause its Microsoft. When Steve-o's toys do it, it must be the provider. Every phone uses background data. Digital phones always have(reception checks use data). You just get billed for it on a smartphone.

If you read the Summary (1)

dwightk (415372) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078690)

you have RTFA

AT&T's Response (3, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078740)

you have RTFA

Well, via Apple Insider [appleinsider.com] I found a more complete detailed account with AT&T's response [macnn.com] :

"Transparent and accurate billing is a top priority for AT&T," an AT&T representative has responded, speaking with MacNN. "In fact, we've created tools that let our customers check their voice and data usage at any time during their billing cycle to help eliminate bill surprises. We have only recently learned of the complaint, but I can tell you that we intend to defend ourselves vigorously."

It is odd that it seems to only be reported by iPhone and iPad users [minyanville.com] .

Was the real data transfer amount zero, then? (2)

heneon (570292) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078720)

Tfa didnt say how much data was transferred during that period (or was that 2 megs pulled totally from the hat). Not having ever used an iPhone I suppose there is some sort of a counter you can reset to see how much data is transferred. Is the all apps off supposed to stop all activity or is there still some background programs accessing the data network occasionally?

off topic, but (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078728)

the new slashdot system is so much borked, even in a standard firefox i am not able anymore to read the comments - and when i select to use the "classic" discussion system, each time i click on a respones it switches back to the new...

PLEASE STOP THIS SHIT! And set slashdot back to the old system until you made the new one usable!

Re:off topic, but (1)

bemymonkey (1244086) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078782)

Turn D2 on, then off, then on again. Only way I got it to work... D2 off doesn't work at all any more.

To be fair, D2 has been improved massively.

Assisted GPS ? (2)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078732)

It uses data trafic.

BTW I assume that they had turned off e-mail checking, of course.

Can't wait to see the settlement (1)

slashqwerty (1099091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078736)

I'm eager to see how this gets settled. I'm betting AT&T will offer a discount to any customer that wants to renew their service by signing up for another two year contract. Oh, and the law firm behind this suit will get $30 million.

Re:Can't wait to see the settlement (1)

Richard_at_work (517087) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078772)

And yet again we have someone complaining about the law firms potential payout - they are the ones taking the financial risk here, if you want a better settlement then opt out and do it yourself, but be prepared to pay legal fees along the way.

Re:Can't wait to see the settlement (3, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079166)

Damn straight we complain. Class actions are a scam. The parties harmed by the action get a pittance while the lawyers get a metric ton of cash. You might look at it not as outrage that lawyers get paid for their work, but outrage that this action is being taken on behalf of us poor iPhone owners. It's being taken by lawyers for lawyers.

Re:Can't wait to see the settlement (1)

Thing 1 (178996) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079250)

Even worse, the financial settlement that the company ends up paying (mostly to the lawyers) will need to be made up for, which is generally in terms of higher cost to the (remaining) customers. So as an iPhone owner, not only will I get a meager $0.15 for the $2.00 they overcharged me, they'll also need to raise my bill by $1.00 per month in order to pay for it. (Numbers made up, of course...)

Re:Can't wait to see the settlement (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079376)

Risk is not the issue here. No law firm with some level of common sense would take on a class action law suit if they didn't think they would get paid in the end. If they claim to represent people who were involved then they need to give the people a bigger slice of the pie. Period.

B.S. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078748)

I'm calling B.S. I had an AT&T iphone, and even with full bars and every internet app open it takes WAAAAY longer than 10 days to download 2,292 KB on their network.

-Inigo Carmine

Re:B.S. (1)

fredrated (639554) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078978)

What are you calling b.s. to? If at&t charged for 2,292 KB and according to you that can't be done even with all apps open, then att is an even bigger liar and thief.

Re:B.S. (1)

TCDown (1788954) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079156)

I would guess that was a bit tongue in cheek!

Should have removed the SIM (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078768)

Unless they've been sniffing all frequencies on which the iPhone can exchange data, how can they be sure there haven't been any data transfers? That is why I wouldn't even consider a data plan with per-volume pricing. To all you metered internet fans who fear that unlimited plans will result in congested networks: THIS is what metered internet gets you.

In Other Headlines (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078796)

"Lawyer leaves iPhone in other pants for a week, gets $20 bill, can't comprehend background services, sues."

Do a real test (1)

dchaffey (1354871) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078800)

If they really want to prove this they'll need to operate some kind of traffic meter on the iPhone itself, and compare that to what is reported by the carrier - but I suspect you'd have to jailbreak the phone to make that work.
And if you're going that far, you should monitor what services are generating the traffic - could just be service bloat on the phone which is no fault of the carrier unless they provide the specific build.

Re:Do a real test (1)

davidbrit2 (775091) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078892)

There's such a meter built right in, actually: Settings, General, Usage, Cellular Network Data. Hit Reset when your billing cycle rolls over, and check back in a month.

Re:Do a real test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078902)

Nope. To do a REAL test, they'd need a rogue cell site to connect to in preference over AT&T's gear, and to measure polling for data from the handset that way. If there are no background data requests, he has a case. If there's anything at all, the first Apple guy to mention "background data" in court will be given a nice, fat bonus cheque.

Re:Do a real test (1)

rudy_wayne (414635) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078914)

If they really want to prove this they'll need to operate some kind of traffic meter on the iPhone itself, and compare that to what is reported by the carrier - but I suspect you'd have to jailbreak the phone to make that work.

If an average non-technical user turns off everything they can find (update checking, email checking, etc) and doesn't use the phone and still gets billed for a few meg of data transfer then there's something wrong. If AT&T isn't inflating data transfers, as alleged in the lawsuit, then they should be required to inform customers that their phone does stuff "behind the scenes" and you will be billed for it, even if you aren't using the phone.

Re:Do a real test (1)

ShadoHawk (741112) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078938)

It's there on the phone. In the settings app under general there is a usage button.
It says since my last reset on 2010-06-22 @ 13:10 that I have sent 428MB and Received 4.5GB.

Relevant outcome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078906)

Attorneys say they would file to have the case moved to class-action status, which makes the outcome relevant to all of AT&T's iPhone accounts.

Potential windfall of 18 cents for all AT&T iPhone customers!

Re:Relevant outcome (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078950)

And $18,000,000 in 40-hour-billiable-days for the lawyers!

Takes less time with a lawsuit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35078922)

It would probably take longer to talk to the customer service reps to get this sorted out (or waiting to talk to the customer service reps) for all these people.

Passive Data (1)

Nailer235 (1822054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35078930)

Nothing in the contract, as far as I know, says that you only have to pay for data you purposefully transfer. The phone does all sorts of things in the background, such as checking for updates to software and e-mail, and these are completely normal operations. Leave a computer on for several days and you'll see a similar result.

Re:Passive Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079130)

I thought "software update" immediately, but I'm not so sure since iOS devices can be updated through iTunes. I've got an iPod touch which doesn't have a cellular connection, but I think iPhones are the same.

I think Apple really needs to provide a breakdown of what software is using the network, and at least some justification for it.

Glad I have an unlimited data plan :-) (1)

trevc (1471197) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079000)

and hopefully can keep it when I get my i{hone 5

Re:Glad I have an unlimited data plan :-) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079172)

Unless you live in the UK, where "unlimited" [slashdot.org] can mean LESS than a competitor's cheapest "limited" package [three.co.uk] .

Same thing happened to me. (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079054)

I know this is about the iPhone but since I have my iPad data plan with AT&T... I had issues with my iPad. I had it turned OFF one weekend. I turned it back on and within 5 minutes I received an email saying my data plan had maxed out after 2 1/2 weeks into the plan (250MB). So I renewed the plan mid month. I wasn't sure what in the world I could have done to cause this as it'd never happened before. I only have two pages of apps, none had notifications turned on, none had 'allow location' , etc. My email was manual only when I'm in mail. I use the iPad when I'm at work to check email once or twice a day and I am sometimes on Yahoo IM. But rarely. I don't stream vids or play online games, etc. Other than that I use the iPad as an ereader and for Pages. No reason at all to cause such data usage. 2 weeks later I'm told my data is out AGAIN. I do a complete reset of the iPad and within 5 days, I received 4 consecutive emails within an hour, one said my data plan had only 20 MB left, one said 18, one said less than 10 and one said out of data. I called AT&T and they suggested I upgrade to the 2GB plan. I said that I had no new apps on the iPad, had done a complete reset, am doing nothing more than I've done with it since May, so there's NO reason for it to all of a sudden suck so much data. We checked notifications, we checked location services, email and could find nothing to cause this. We even called Apple Care. No one could find a reason. And LO! after my complaint to AT&T, I haven't had that problem again even though it's been almost 6 weeks. Even though we changed none of my settings, as they were already turned off. I find that a bit suspect. To their credit, AT&T was gracious enough to give me one month's free iPad and iPhone services 'for my troubles', which was rather decent of them as the gent on the phone heard how irate I was becoming.

Where was this test performed? (1)

OverkillTASF (670675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079082)

How did they manage to turn on their iPhone and get a decent enough signal for this testing? I'm sure it helps that it was probably sitting on a table and not being held^d^d^d^dattenuated by a human hand, but still.

Re:Where was this test performed? (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079242)

Oh, no, it was held. By an intern. For 10 days straight. At $250/hr. Along with the secretary at $150/hr and a junior partner at $350/hr to verify the test. All told, that's $180,000 in billable time right off the bat.

Re:Where was this test performed? (1)

OverkillTASF (670675) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079368)

Which will be recovered in the class action suit.

Lawyers upset by over-billing? (4, Funny)

scrib (1277042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079084)

Wait a minute, lawyers are upset about systematic over-billing?

I'd say this is a "the pot calling the kettle black" moment, but it's more like "tar calling granite black."

I have no doubt that the lawyers will bill AT&T for every minute of those 10 days they "monitored" that iPhone...

Re:Lawyers upset by over-billing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079182)

When I saw that, I assumed it was a patent infringement case...

Re:Lawyers upset by over-billing? (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079418)

...but it's more like "tar calling granite black."

What is the color of granite? [answers.com]

Re:Lawyers upset by over-billing? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079526)

I'd say this is a "the pot calling the kettle black" moment, but it's more like "tar calling granite black.

Geologists would disagree.. Most is grey through to pink, depending on the concentrations of quartz, potassium or plagioclase feldspar, and amphibole, the latter being the dark mineral you're actually thinking of.
 
Oh, and "bitumen". Sorry.
 
CAPTCHA: Knowable

call me crazy.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35079086)

...but the phone shouldn't "phone home" at all. Period. Unless the user does something intentionally to make it do so. Otherwise you have a device made by a company that you bought that can just decide to inflate your monthly bill whenever it feels like it.

Other 20 days? (1)

a1Neri (1979042) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079118)

They left it alone for 10 days without any data usage ... what about the other 20 days of the billing cycle?...

Re:Other 20 days? (1)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079240)

They played angry birds. AT&T gives you a massive (referencing size here, not price) bill with your data traffic by day (at the second to least granular setting).

Control groups and larger sample size? (1)

Khoa (935586) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079142)

Very bad experimental methodology. The guy needs to set up a control (phone off) as well as using more phones to try toget a better feel of what's causing the 3mb traffic.

Class Action (1)

shoehornjob (1632387) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079302)

Attorneys say they would file to have the case moved to class-action status, which makes the outcome relevant to all of AT&T's iPhone accounts.

It's always the same formula: Big company+lawyers+class action= law firm gets rich on billable hours and I get shit. Sure AT&T gets hurt which is a good thing but seriously there needs to be some sort of legislation on exactly how much law firms can charge when there is a class action suit. Then again I may not be affected as I'm grandfathered into an unlimited data plan. Oh well... Fuck AT&T.

Re:Class Action (1)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079542)

No, AT&T "getting hurt" is not a good thing. People will just pay in the form of higher costs. All of our goods and services have liability costs baked into the pricing. We lose much more than the tiny amounts claimed lost by the "victims".

The lawyers work for verizon? (1)

bmwEnthusiast (1384289) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079532)

And the switching from AT&T to Verizon begins...

Mail Fraud? (1)

argmanah (616458) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079556)

So, if Apple knowingly overbilled their customers and sent out bills to that effect, isn't that mail fraud? All you need is some thugs chasing Tom Cruise around and you could make a movie out of this!

The complaint reads like I wrote it. (1)

rickb928 (945187) | more than 3 years ago | (#35079602)

And that's not a compliment to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff makes essentially 4 claims for relief. They read like a tabloid expose, not what I'm used to from lawyers, stating fact and claims. "Rigged gas pump"? Number 3 in particular is a hoot:

"2. It gets worse. Not only does AT&T systematically overbill..."

Sorry, it gets 'worse'? Asking the court to consider any of your claims lesser than others doesn't seem like a recommended strategy. Making one claim 'worse' risks finding the others 'less worse'. Clearly, IANAL, but do I claim that when my car is forced off the road, it get worse when my coffee is spilled? Do I claim anything is 'worse'? Nope. It's ALL bad, and THEIR fault. Pay for it ALL, please, even the coffee. I don't want them settling the coffee dispute first just because it's 'worse'.

Sorry, this does look like amateur hour. He's got an interesting case and all, but it's written up like he was a heck of a hurry to get this filed, or was just so wee-wee'd up he couldn't have someone proof it and recommend some more eloquent and sane language. Even the gas pump analogy is a risk not to be taken in a complaint. At least one judge I've known would read that and snort. And give the plaintiff stink-eye. And she's a fair judge.

And he hired an 'independent consulting firm' to test data charges and metering? Not in that much of a hurry, unless he was beating a media deadline, and the media doesn't sleep any more. Weak.

Or am I just too used to attorneys waxing on ad infinitum?

ps- as a side note, I wonder what data billing would occur if you put your iPhone in a foil envelope for a few days. 'Phantom' data charges? My Android phone can't help it self from checking in despite no email or anything else. It's a feature to check for system updates. I do have settings to avoid data roaming and turn off sync, but I wonder if I can keep it from at least asking for a new version. I'm pretty cynical, and this suit looks like an opportunistic grab on the part of the plaintiff.

Ack. It's already a long day.

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