AT&T are ‘systematically overcharging’ up to 20 million Americans who use their iPhone or iPad to access data on the go, an investigation has uncovered. The lawsuit alleges the phone giant routinely over charges customers between 7 and 14 per cent, and in some cases up to 300 per cent. In tests, engineers said they found the company charged for downloading data and surfing the web even when the iPhones remained untouched. Speaking to MSNBC, lawyer Barry Davis who worked on the suit, said: ‘It’s like a rigged gas pump.

‘Where when you go to the gas station and ask for a gallon of gas but only get 9/10’s.’ When asked by a reporter whether his team found overcharging for every single transaction, he replied: ‘yes, every single one.’ The reporter the asked: ‘Did you ever find a discrepancy where the customer was undercharged?’ Mr Davis replied: ‘Never. Always an overcharge, never an undercharge.’

Over 20 million Americans have iPhones or iPads with AT&T, who until a few months ago were the sole network allowed to sell the phones. In order to test the allegations, the team bought several new iPhones, disabled all software that would automatically access the internet or download data and left them on, but un touched, for 10 days. When they received the bill, they found AT&T had charged them for 35 different transactions. Independent engineers also measured the amount of data downloaded in a series of tests, and then compared the results to the bill sent by AT&T. They found that in every case AT&T overcharged by between 7-14 per cent, and in some cases by as much as 300 per cent.

I suppose if you MUST have that shiny new iPhone….you won’t mind a mild screwing.




  1. Tippis says:

    …so when are you guys getting around to implementing that “free and open market” thing that’s been all the rage these last couple of years? XD

  2. JimD says:

    I guess “Weights and Measures” are not applied Phone Service and the customer MUST PAY what the carrier DEMANDS !!! Seems it’s time to bring in the Federal Trade Commission and have a FRAUD INVESTIGATION !!!

  3. rwest says:

    How do they expect Apple to collect the location data that they say they don’t collect, without sending data back to the mother ship?

  4. Thompson S Hunter says:

    Adding insult to injury, ATT charges you for sending the location information they claim they’re not collecting.

  5. ikelleigh says:

    #1 Since when has owning an iPhone made someone a macfan?

  6. The Dude says:

    The power users all have unlimited data grandfathered in. Exempt.

  7. llsee says:

    Sadly, this is business as usual for phone companies. Before I retired(retired in 04), I managed the voice and data communications needs for a small-mid sized Bay Area company (450 employees). I had 3 employees in the voice communications group. One managed and programmed the PBX, took orders for moves and worked to insure that all voice services worked. The second person was a tech who did physical moves, punch-downs, etc and was shared with the data side. The third person’s sole responsibility was auditing and disputing our bills from the local carrier, long distance carrier, and data suppliers. There was never… NEVER a month when we were not over-charged. In fact at one point, I had over $1 million in dispute with MCI and PacTel.

    Of course, Pacific Telephone, was acquired by SBC, who later acquired the remnants of AT&T and renamed themselves AT&T. Obviously, nothing has changed. It is still my firm belief that ALL ‘telecom’ companies are crooks and thieves without exception. They only differ in the brazenness of their thievery!

  8. hhopper says:

    I’m not a Macfan. I have all PC computers… but I do like my iPad. I’m not buying a new one though. The old one works fine… and I don’t have a data plan on it… WiFi only.

  9. The Dude says:

    #8 gets really annoyed when something with an Apple logo just plain works. One could have the same argument with any big computer company. His views are myopic at best.

  10. deowll says:

    I smell a class action law suit. I just wish there was some way to make the people at the top go to prison for a long, long time.

  11. Lou Minatti says:

    I have a Samsung Galaxy S. No iPhone here. I am with AT&T and notice the same thing. It pisses me off royally.

  12. Animby - just phoning it in says:

    I absolutely LOVE my prepaid Android services. Two devices running 3G (when I can’t find a WiFi signal – which is very often) and I’ve never run up against a data limit. Cost? About US$6 each per month!

  13. sargasso_c says:

    As Lou points out, Android users are getting the same treatment. It is common practice to charge for background data packet transfers, integral to the function of the OS. There are arguably more of these in Android than iOS. Location. Time sync. Account verification. Certificate management. Push notifications. Blah blah. The evil genius begins with packet padding, resizing packets to maximize the amount of signalling bits in background packets. And so on.

    Until AT&T is broken into wholesale, transmission and retail companies you’re not going to see an improvement in their behaviour.

  14. bseer says:

    Customers are getting charged for every bit of data the the smartphone receives, requested or not. Were people charged for data was not transmitted?

    On the average class action suit the customer gets pennies and the lawyers hit the jackpot. And NBC reports on an ‘issue’ that barely qualifies as news.

  15. McCullough says:

    #18. Dead on. Class actions are bullshit for the end user.

  16. Glenn E. says:

    Well, ya know, AT&T has to make up the overhead costs of ensuring that Big Brother can “tap in” over its lines, somehow. So why not pass the expense onto us? And since it’s supposed to be a secret. but obviously ISN’T if I know about it. Then AT7T has to keep the added billing a secret too. Or perhaps they are simply greedy bastards. Instead of a refund to all iPad users, they’ll probably offer some “free minutes”. Which won’t cost AT&T as much as dollars would, and will also be incorrectly tallied. Monopolies don’t miss a trick, do they?


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