AT&T agrees to reimburse customers for ‘data throttling’
I’ll believe it when I see it. That’s why I’m asking those of you who signed up for an AT&T unlimited data plan before 2011 to let me know if you receive either a check or an account credit over the next few months.
The reason is AT&T just agreed to pay $60 million to resolve a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lawsuit. In the 2014 suit, the FTC alleged AT&T practiced what the agency dubbed data throttling: deliberately slowing down the data speeds of unlimited data customers when they cross a threshold of data use. The FTC alleged in the complaint that the practice was “unfair and deceptive.”
“It was unfair because AT&T promised unlimited data, but didn’t give customers the data they paid for,” said FTC Consumer Education Specialist Alvaro Puig. “It was deceptive because AT&T didn’t tell customers it was reducing their data speed.”
The FTC alleged AT&T started dragging customers’ data speeds after they used as little as two gigabytes of data in a month. Reuters reported that’s equivalent to watching two hours of Netflix on your devices.
In an email statement to media outlets, AT&T referred to the speed adjustment on some customers’ data as a “network management tool,” but acknowledged it could have done a better job of disclosing the practice to consumers. “Even though it has been years since we applied this network management tool in the way described by the FTC, we believe this is in the best interests of consumers,” read AT&T’s statement.
The FTC has said if you’re one of the affected customers, you don’t have to do a thing. If you signed up before 2011 and you’re still an AT&T unlimited data customer, you should anticipate a credit to your account that represents your portion of data that AT&T held back from you. If you had an AT&T unlimited data plan before 2011, but you’re no longer an AT&T customer, you’re supposed to get a check in the mail.
That’s where I come in. I want to hear from consumers who fall into both of these categories. I want to know if you really get AT&T’s reimbursement and, if so, how much. If you believe you qualify, please email me at email@example.com or comment on my social media posts of this blog. I’d like to stay in touch with you to see if AT&T really follows through with the FTC’s settlement after the court approves it.
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