Apple and AT&T hit with class action lawsuit over iPad unlimited data bait and switch

invisibleSHIELD case for iPadOn June 9, 2010, a consumer who purchased an Apple iPad with 3G capability and signed up for an AT&T data plan filed a nationwide class action lawsuit against Apple and AT&T for fraud and misrepresentation. On June 23, 2010, an amended complaint was filed adding two additional consumers as plaintiffs and further details in the factual allegations.

Plaintiffs allege that Apple and AT&T deceptively promoted that consumers could both sign up for an unlimited data plan and have the ability to switch, month by month, between that unlimited data plan or one with a 250MB limit as their needs changed.

Factual Allegations in the Complaint

As of June 7, 2010, Apple and AT&T decided to discontinue the “unlimited data” plan they had heavily advertised in connection with their sales of the 3G-enabled iPads. Apple and AT&T had promised consumers flexibility with their data plans, allowing them the ability switch back and forth between the limited data plan, the unlimited data plan, and no data plan.

The complaint alleges that iPad purchasers who initially opted for the limited data plan have been stripped of their ability to later opt for the unlimited data plan. Even those customers currently signed up for the unlimited data plan cannot switch to a limited plan and then later opt for the unlimited plan, as was originally promised. Apple and AT&T announced this policy change with less than one week’s notice to their customers and only about a month after Apple and AT&T began selling 3G-enabled iPads.

The complaint further alleges that consumers were convinced to opt for the more expensive 3G model, costing $130 more than a non-3G model, based on the advertised benefits of having an unlimited data plan and the freedom to continually switch in and out of that plan as their demand for data changed.

Proposed Class

Plaintiffs seek to represent a nationwide class consisting of all individuals and entities within the United States who purchased an Apple iPad 3G with an AT&T service plan.

Contact Us

Consumers who would like to report their experiences with the Apple iPad and their AT&T unlimited data plan, or who wish to learn more about the class action lawsuit, are welcome to contact an attorney at Lieff Cabraser by clicking here.

Source: Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP

MacDailyNews Take: We have no problem with this one at all. In fact, we might sign up for it ourselves.

79 Comments

  1. Gregg is correct, Apple nor AT&T;ever said what is in the class action breif.

    This will be interesting, but will be settled or thrown out due to the terms of service that everyone must agree to and those terms state “at anytime service can be changed”.

    “Read the clause in AT&T;terms of service that state you agree to using
    “Arbitration” to settle disputes & only single entity can proceed with a exclusion clause not allowing any class action status”
    This has saved AT&T;before.

    This has no bearing on Apple and will need to be changed to reflect that.
    Apple is a “material prouduct supplier” Just by adding Apples name to the suposed suit has jepardized it going forward.

    This will be interesting.

  2. @iCon,

    Plans change, but this is a case where the plans were unique for the iPad. It’s not like AT&T;said, “The iPad device is eligible for our X service plan”. Instead AT&T;created and marketed new plans for the iPad and then *right* after the launch, they changed the plans.

    They’re trying to skirt by with saying that you can keep your existing unlimited plan (if you have it), but what they really needed to do to make things right is grandfather the ability to switch in and out of the unlimited plan.

  3. > I got to say, it seems to me that Apple & ATT have really messed up on this one.

    Yes – this is not about whether Apple or ATT have kept to the wording of their standard terms and conditions, which themselves may be fair or unfair.

    It is about how the companies treat their customers – customers who want to love the product and the company.

    To feel let down by Microsoft is, sadly, no great upset. To feel let down by Apple is very sad.

    It’s not whether Apple kept to the small print. It’s whether they acted in the spirit of their promise and spirit of their brand.

  4. There is no doubt that Apple has significant influence with AT&T;however, Apple does not legally control AT&T;or their data plans and can therefore not be liable for changes to terms of service and offered plans that AT&T;makes.

    The only possible comeback on Apple would be if they delayed announcing the change in plans after they were advised by AT&T;. In any other respect they are resellers just as most of your high street retailers.

    AT&T;, if they had been smart would have at least allowed people to choose which data plan they wanted before terminating the ability to switch.

    As far as the rest of it is concerned I am sure that in their standard terms of service is the right to change products at any time subject to due notice for those customers on a terminating service. Read the fine print, the judges will.

    We have a different problem in the UK where the networks advertise unlimited data but buried in the small print is the reference to “subject to a fair use policy” that often has the effect of limiting the data plan to a much lower level. This practice is not being investigated by UK and European regulators so hopefully some clean up will follow.

  5. > Read the fine print, the judges will.

    Not quite. In the UK, fine print is subject to the Unfair Contract Terms Act 1977 any may be held unenforceable if unfair.

    In any event, it is not about Apple following the fine print. It is about not holding to one’s promises and being seen to be or perceived as other than honest and fair.

  6. I think it shouldn’t be about a money settlement, and more about restoring the promised services. I certainly want to be able to discontinue and reenable my unlimited data plan as promised.

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