The U.S. Government says AT & T misled millions of consumers with promises of unlimited data plans.
The Federal Trade Commission filed a complaint in federal court against the company, saying it charged smartphone customers for unlimited data plans, all the while reducing their data speeds. According to the complaint, sometimes up to a 90% reduction.
They say the company did not adequately disclose this information to its customers. When customers reach a certain about of data usage during the month on their “unlimited” plans, AT&T sometimes reduces (also known as throttles) the speeds. In fact, the speeds are reduced so drastically that it’s difficult to use many apps and impossible to do things like watch a video or web surf.
At the same time, the company was squeezing the amount of data to customers, they ran advertising emphasizing the unlimited amount of data and if customers caught on and cancelled their plans because of throttling, they were hit with hefty fees for early termination of the contract.
The FTC says the practice started in 2011, with AT&T throttling customers who used as little 2 GB of data in a month. It oloks as if the company throttled 3.5 million customers who paid for unlimited data.
Customers complained in droves about the slow data speed, which affected their GPS, music streaming and web browsing.
AT&T says the allegations are baseless and that “It’s baffling as to why the FTC would choose to take this action against a company that, like all major wireless providers, manages its network resources to provide the best possible service to all customers, and does it in a way that is fully transparent and consistent with the law and our contracts.”