California judge slaps down throttle-happy AT&T
The internet has been buzzing about AT&T decision to throttle their top 5% of data users (which they proport to be 2GB and above). Despite the intense PR pressure, AT&T has refused to renege on the wildly unpopular policy. However, a California small claims decision could throw a wrench in their plans.
When AT&T wireless users with unlimited data plans experienced throttling earlier this month, everyone assumed it was a glitch. Yes, AT&T warned their unlimited plan subscribers back in 2011 that they would begin throttling the top 5% of users, but why would customers experience throttling at 2GB? It seemed nonsensical considering the fact that AT&T offers data plans at 3GB and 5GB without throttling. Customers quickly discoverd it was NOT a glitch. AT&T stated that according to their summer data, 2GB and above qualified as the top 5% of users. To add insult to injury, AT&T bemoaned that because their merger with T-Mobile fell through, their network was overloaded and they simply couldn't offer unthrottled data to those 2GB+ hogs. Oh, unless they wanted to upgrade to their 3GB and 5GB plans for an extra fee, which is what the company is recommending to frustrated unlimited users.
Most thought there was little that could be done other than convince AT&T to let users out of their contracts. However, one California user made news by taking AT&T to small claims court - and winning! The judge awarded the customer $850; $85 for the 10 months left in his contract. Unfortunately, small claims decisions don't create legal precedent so AT&T users can't automatically cash in. However, under AT&T's current contract, any customer can take the corporation to small claims court, so you can try to get your share as well.
Interested in the small claims court process? Contact your local small claims department; most offer free phone sessions with an advisor. Interested in getting out of your AT&T contract over the issue? Contact the Fraud Squad and we'll help you out.