AT&T Sued on Behalf of iPhone and iPad Users for Alleged Data Services Overcharges

A class-action lawsuit filed in federal court earlier this year accuses AT&T of overcharging customers for data usage on iPhones and iPads subscribed to the AT&T wireless network. A telecom billing consultant firm hired by the plaintiff’s attorneys says it has demonstrated firsthand that AT&T routinely overstates data usage by the two devices.

The suit, Hendricks v. AT&T Mobility LLC, was filed by AT&T customer Patrick Hendricks on January 27 in the San Francisco office of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The suit alleges that AT&T routinely and systematically inflates the amount of data incoming to Apple iPhones and iPads by 7% to 14%, although in extreme cases it was asserted that the overstatement can be as much as 300%.

AT&T ended its unlimited data plan in June 2010 and introduced tiered data usage plans instead. AT&T charged Hendricks for exceeding his allotted 200 megabyte monthly data limit, an overage that Hendricks asserts only occurred because AT&T inaccurately stated his data usage in the first place.

The lawsuit gained additional attention in May after Hendricks’ lawyers hired an independent consultant to test the way data usage was logged on the AT&T wireless network. The results of the study, which were reported on NBC’s Today show, showed that AT&T inflated the usage on literally every data transaction on the iPhones and iPads purchased for the consultant’s test, according to the attorneys. A test was conducted on a brand-new iPhone, which was left idle for 10 days with no apps or data-consuming features running. At the end of the test period, Hendricks’ lawyers say a phone bill audit showed that AT&T billed the account for 35 data transactions totaling 2.3 MB of what the lawyers are calling “phantom” data usage.

The AT&T case represents a more publicized example of a problem that occurs regularly, but with much less fanfare, on other telecommunications networks all over the United States. Whether it be for voice or data services, wireless or landline, overbilling by telecommunications carriers can seem the rule rather than the exception. A typical business today uses such a complex combination of telecom services that it’s difficult for a non-specialist to make sure that telecom dollars are being spent efficiently and without waste. That’s why hiring a telecommunications management firm like Telanalysis, with years of expertise in telecom audit and management services, can literally pay for itself and continue to reduce a company’s operating costs into the future.

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