AT&T won’t appeal decision in throttling suit, pays up

“AT&T Inc. on Friday gave up on appealing an $850 award won by an iPhone user in small claims court, and sent him a check,” Peter Svensson reports for The Associated Press.

“Matt Spaccarelli, of Simi Valley, Calif., had sued the phone company because it was slowing down the data service on his phone. Spaccarelli has an ‘unlimited data’ plan, but as of this fall, AT&T had begun slowing download speeds for these subscribers if they use more than a certain amount of data in a month,” Svensson reports. “Spaccarelli argued that “unlimited is unlimited,” and the judge agreed at a hearing on Feb. 24.”

Svensson reports, “On Friday, the Dallas-based phone company said it was sending Spaccarelli a check for $850, plus $85 for court costs. Spokesman Mark Siegel didn’t elaborate on the company’s reasoning. AT&T has 17 million subscribers on ‘unlimited’ plans. It prohibits subscribers from seeking jury trials and from participating in class actions. Its right to limit subscribers’ legal options was upheld by the Supreme Court last year. The remaining options for subscribers seeking legal redress are small claims court and arbitration. Arbitration is usually covered by confidentiality agreements, so consumers can’t share tips about how to take on big companies. That doesn’t apply to small claims court, and Spaccarelli has posted his legal materials online.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Matt Spaccarelli’s winning legal materials can be found here

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Readers “Fred Mertz” and “Lynn Weiler” for the heads up.]

Related articles:
AT&T offers iPhone user a settlement in throttling case in exchange for silence – March 13, 2012
AT&T customer wins $850 in iPhone ‘throttling’ case – February 24, 2012


  1. One thing isn’t clear from the article itself: does this customer reserve the right to the unlimited ‘unlimited’? It is great to get some money back for something that was promised but not delivered, but does the final verdict imply that the user is now aware how limited the ‘unlimited’ is and accepts such limitations? If that is the case, then AT&T got its way fairly cheaply.

    The remaining number of people with the ‘grandfathered’ unlimited plans who were actually getting notices is likely fairly small. Out of those, the number of people who are aware that there is a possible way to fight this back is even smaller. For AT&T, this wasn’t all that much to pay.

  2. So, among the major carriers with contract plans, Sprint seems to be the the remaining one offering truly unlimited “unlimited plan”. The others who offer “unlimited” limit the amount of that “unlimited” data. Ironically, the only ones that now offer actual unlimited data are those discount, prepaid carriers (Boost, MetroPCS, Cricket, etc). And ;you don’t even need a contract there…

      1. Not true for me. My Sprint connection on my iPhone is much better and faster than my AT&T one ever was. And more reliable for making phone calls, which AT&T sucked at. And I live in Los Angeles.

    1. So they limited his unlimited. The speed was limited, therefore it is no longer unlimited. Since AT&T didn’t specify that only the amount of data and not the speed would be unlimited it is the decision of the judge that AT&T is in violation of the contract by limiting an aspect of the data, in this case the speed aspect.

  3. I remember reading a couple of years ago the same situation occurred in the UK. There a government body said unlimited does have a limit. Anyone here from the UK?

    1. the way companies in the uk get round the “unlimited” is a fair usage policy. So nothing is ever truly unlimited, its just marketing spin.

      Eg my 3G data is marketed as unlimited but In the fine print there is a fair usage policy of 5gb per month. So I get 5gb of unlimited data and then they throttle the connection to the point of uselessness for anything past that unless I pay extra.

  4. If any characteristic of a service delivered changes because of the amount that you use that service, it really doesn’t fit the definition of the word “unlimited,” because ALL of the characteristics of the service are a part of the service. To change the maximum speed changes the service itself, and therefore places a limit on it.

    Is that clear enough for all you people who keep harping on this point?

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.