Class-action lawsuit hits AT&T over iPhone data

Breach of contract; unjust enrichment; unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices. That’s what AT&T has to defend itself against in a big class-action lawsuit that comes as the company is already scrambling to fill the iPhone-exclusivity void.

The lawsuit comes from Patrick Hendricks from Alameda County, California who hired an independent consulting firm to run an analysis on AT&T’s billing charges. According to the results, the suit alleges all data on AT&T phones, most notably the iPhone, “systematically overstate web server traffic by 7% to 14%,” according to documents obtained by Apple Insider.

Moreover, the lawsuit claims that the mobile carrier regularly “bills for phantom data traffic when there is no actual data use initiated by the customer.” As an example, the independent consultants allegedly bought a new iPhone and disabled every possible source of data connectivity they could find. Within 10 days, their account said the phone had used 2,292 KB of data.

“This is like the rigged gas pump charging you when you never even pulled your car into the station,” condemns the complaint.

Of course, when we look at our mobile phone bills, no one ever sifts through the pages of data usage – 500 KB at 11:03 AM on the 4th of the month, 84 KB at 12:49 PM on the 6th… come on. It would certainly be easy for a carrier to slip in what most people would consider negligible overages, but scaled out to the entire AT&T customer base is a huge amount.

Specifically to Hendricks, the lawsuit claims he has AT&T’s basic $15/month data plan on his iPhone. That means he’s limited to 200 MB per month and if he goes over, there are additional fees. According to the complaint, Hendricks was hit with a bill ending in November in which it charged him for 223 MB of data. He claims he didn’t use that much. Now the case is seeking class-action status.

AT&T has released a brief remark, stating, “We intend to defend ourselves vigorously. Transparent and accurate billing is a top priority for AT&T.”