When AT&T started slowing down the data service for his iPhone, Matt Spaccarelli, an unemployed truck driver and student, took the country’s largest telecommunications company to small claims court. And won.

His award: $850.

Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel found in favor of Spaccarelli in Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley on Friday, saying it wasn’t fair for the company to purposely slow down his iPhone, when it had sold him an “unlimited data” plan…

Late last year, AT&T started slowing down data service for the top 5 percent of its smartphone subscribers with “unlimited” plans. It had warned that it would start doing so, but many subscribers have been surprised by how little data use it takes for throttling to kick in —often less than AT&T provides to those on limited or “tiered” plans.

Spaccarelli said his phone is being throttled after he’s used 1.5 gigabytes to 2 gigabytes of data within a new billing cycle. Meanwhile, AT&T provides 3 gigabytes of data to subscribers on a tiered plan that costs the same — $30 per month.

When slowed down, the phone can still be used for calls and text messaging, but Web browsing is painfully slow, and video streaming doesn’t work at all…

Companies with as many potentially aggrieved customers as AT&T usually brace themselves for a class-action lawsuit. But last year, the Supreme Court upheld a clause in the Dallas-based company’s subscriber contract that prohibits customers from taking their complaints to class actions or jury trials.

Just in case you forgot that corporations are people, too.



  1. bobbo, the pragmatic existential evangelical anti-theist and Junior Social Critic says:

    Ever stopped and just thought about it? My own careful but still subjective view is that I get cheated in one way or another about 30% of the time. Daddy told me money wouldn’t make me happy but it would make the small irritations go away. He was wrong on both counts.

    Ha, ha. Ok. I’ll admit with low expectations living in our consumers be damned culture is just barely tolerable. Gotta keep your wits and focus though, thats for sure. Would be nice if courts weren’t such a pain to deal with, even moreso if major vendors weren’t?

    30 or 15 day return policy? “♫ What’s up wid dat?” I read somewhere a while back that in the EU there was a mandated one year return policy for most consumer items. That sounds much more fair. Then you only have to catch the unethical/cheating/scamming/for profit consumers.

    Same as it ever was.

  2. Steve S says:

    In a tragic turn of events, Mr. Spaccarelli was found murdered today. Police are investigating but so far there are no leads as to who is responsible……

    • Zybch says:

      Was it two self inflicted gunshot wounds to the head, or was a hot tub involved somehow?

      • deowll says:

        Most likely one of those defective hair driers slipped past DHS and fell into his bathwater.

  3. Uncle Patso says:

    I wish Mr. Spaccarrelli luck collecting the judgement.

    • bumrocky says:

      All he has to do now is foreclose on one of the stores, like people did with bank branches when they got judgements against banks. That’ll get their attention!

  4. AdmFubar says:

    i’m like soooooo glad i dont have a cell phone..
    i just laugh at all this nonsense you put up with.

    • ABO says:

      I am sure you will be saying the same thing when your car dies on a lonely highway at night.

  5. Cap'nKangaroo says:

    I believe he may have called in to Leo’s “The Tech Guy” show this afternoon.

  6. Peppeddu says:

    It’s veeeery easy to prove it.
    Take two AT&T phones, side by side, one with an unlimited plan and one with a tiered plan.

    Do a speed test, stream video, ect and see how they compare.

    Then go to court and get your $850 cash back 🙂

  7. Animby says:

    The cell phone companies will soon throttle themselves back into a public utility with all the government oversight and bribery that requires.

  8. President Amabo (& my wife Chewbacca) (threaded comment systems are for retards) says:

    Every single American should be required to download at least 10GB of porn a month. After that, if they actually watched it they would have a better world view.

  9. Zaphod says:

    I am glad AT&T is going to take this on the chin. Your scummy business practice should not be rewarded. If AT&T needs to go out of business to drive this point home, so be it! Hope you are listening AT&T!

  10. Glenn E. says:

    So “Broadband” and “High Speed” access, ain’t so anymore. Unless your on the carrier’s Enterprise plan, I suspect. There’s always that 100% unfettered plan, they don’t advertise, for the super rich and politically connected. But apparently what’s causing AT&T to throttle, is it’s standard subscription growth, exceeding its capacity. So its become “smaller cans of coffee” time for service providers, to cover a growing number of users. Too bad the government doesn’t allow any competition to the established connectivity providers. Or there might arise some Costco or BJ’s like “buy in bulk” internet service providers.


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