AT&T Sued, Accused Of Inflating Data Charges For iPhone & iPad Users

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Two attorneys from Florida and New York are teaming up to file a class action lawsuit that charges telecom giant AT&T with over-billing data plan subscribers for so-called “phantom” data usage.

Attorney Barry Davis says an independent study performed by a consulting firm showed AT&T bills consistently and systematically overstated data use by 7 to 14 percent and in some cases by more than 300 percent.

This happened even when the phones weren’t in use according to the study. In one case, the consultants bought a brand new iPhone and a subscription to AT&T’s mobile data service, disabled everything that might trigger data usage and left the phone in a locked drawer for 10 days. Later when the bill came, AT&T had charged for 35 transactions.

“AT&T’s billing system for iPhone and iPad data transactions is like a rigged gas pump that charges for a full gallon when it pumps only nine-tenths of a gallon into your car’s tank,” according to the lawsuit which was filed on behalf of AT&T customer Patrick Hendricks in the Northern District of California. says Hendricks’ lawsuit suggests AT&T’s switch from “all you can eat” to tiered pricing plans is so the company can pad data usage by customers, thus driving up cell phone bills.

In a statement, AT&T responded: “Accurate billing is clearly important and, unfortunately, there have been some incorrect claims about our data usage billing practices. We properly charge for all data that our customers send and receive, including data activity that runs in the background on smartphones and other powerful data devices.”

If you want to join the class action suit, you can contact attorney Barry Davis via e-mail or go to the Thornton, Davis & Fein website.

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One Comment

  1. critter says:

    Probably democrats

  2. crystal says:

    AT&T is also raising ALL data rate plans and disguising the increase. They are forcing anyone who upgrades to a smartphone to now get a “smartphone data plan.” These plans are double the price of the unlimited data for non smart phones. I upgraded to a smart phone prior to the plan changes and my smartphone works just fine with the $10 unlimited package. When my husband upgraded, they forced us into $20 per month for his new phone and it is not even unlimited!

    In the past, AT&T had the iPhone plan, the Blackberry plan and the regular plan (that I currently have). Most every new phone is considered a smartphone so if you want a phone that actually uses the internet, you are forced into the new plan….double the cost and it is not unlimited!

    AT&T is a sneaky company. Anyone have any advice on how I can get out of my contract early. I have been a customer of AT&T’s since 1997. I have been loyal but it’s time to go since that means nothing to them!

  3. unhappy consumer says:

    Verizon was no better. We switched to AT&T simply because Verizon is not consumer friendly either. You have to watch them both like thieves. At least we get better coverage with AT&T. We can now use our phones inside buildings. I haven’t tried other companies but would expect most all cell phone providers try to take advantage of consumers. The days of honesty and honor seem long gone with many business people trying to outdo each other to gain a quick easy buck.

  4. ejpbowie says:

    Complain to the FCC about all the carriers forcing data plans on smartphone users. I did and AT&T had to respond in writing. If enough people complain, maybe we’ll get their attention

  5. BBViva says:

    The phantom data charges also show up on blackberry accounts. I upgraded to a blackberry before any data plan was required and have only used it as a phone, txt and organizer device. I’ve turned off all icons that could possibly turn on the data usage and still get hit with data charges every single month. Also in the last year they have gone from a 10 cent/MB charge to a $2.00/KB charge. You can bet I started calling every month to get the charges reversed. And to their credit, they gave me just that, an advanced credit through the next year. I’m thankful for that but a monthly phantom charge still indicates a problem. Anyway, i’m still really irked by the whole data plan conspiracy.

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