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.

Wired.com 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 davis@tdflaw.com or go to the Thornton, Davis & Fein website.

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