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AT&T is ordered to pay damages of $850

Score one for the little guy. Matt Spaccarelli successfully argued his data throttling case against AT&T in a Ventura Superior Court in Simi Valley, California this week. Spaccarelli's argued that even though he had an unlimited data plan with his iPhone, he was being throttled to slower speeds after only 1.5 to 2GB of data usage each month.
 
AT&T's decision to throttle Spaccarelli is even more spurious when you factor in that his $30 "unlimited" plan is throttled at relatively low limits while he would be technically safe using AT&T's $30 3GB "tiered" plan.
 
Pro-tem Judge Russell Nadel awarded Spaccarelli $850 for his troubles -- $85 for each of the ten months remaining on his contract.
 
AT&T spokesman Marty Richter indicated AT&T will appeal the ruling, and added, "At the end of the day, our contract governs our relationship with our customers."
 
However, Spaccarelli isn’t completely innocent in this case. He admits to violating AT&T’s contract terms by jailbreaking his iPhone to provide tethering functionality to his iPad without paying the additional monthly fee. Spaccarelli was automatically switched from an unlimited plan to a tiered plan when this was initially discovered, but he complained. AT&T caved and put him back on an unlimited plan.
 
Apparently, Judge Nadel didn’t take this revelation into consideration in his ruling.
 
For his part, Spaccarelli proclaimed, "You don't tell somebody you have unlimited' and then cut them off."

Source: Associated Press



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I'm going to sue as well.
By BillyBatson on 2/25/2012 2:46:40 PM , Rating: 5
I have also been throttled the last 4 months including this month starting yesterday. They warn me at 1.6gb and throttle me at 2gb. I am currently unemployed and had to cut off my timewarner Internet so i have no access to wifi and my phone is my only link to my emails, google, google maps etc.
I called last week and AT&T said their was nothing they could do! The guy who won th lawsuit above won in a court located 10 minutes from me. I just called AT&T again just now and they gave me the same run around as last week so I mention th lawsuit and all the details to her and she forwards me to another department that sounded like they were specifically trained to handle my type of call and she told me there was no one else I could speak to that she was the highest I could go and that there was still nothing hey could do and that I would have to deal with it or change to a tiered plan.

So I'm going to tell you all what I told her. I'm going to file a lawsuit as well. I have only until August on my contract so I won't be getting as much as the guy above unless they backdate my claim. I'll also be switching to Sprint the day the iPhone5 comes out.




RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By kjboughton on 2/25/2012 4:33:08 PM , Rating: 5
That's the spirit!

You're unemployed (by your own account), but damn if you won't get the iPhone5 the day it comes out.

Quick, someone enshrine this for all of history: it frames such a large portion of the country's mentality so perfectly.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Motoman on 2/25/2012 4:58:56 PM , Rating: 4
He needs the one with the bigger gee bees.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By someguy123 on 2/25/2012 5:40:37 PM , Rating: 5
Eviction notice in one hand, iphone 4S in the other.

All he needs now is to get pregnant and he'll really be the 99%.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Aloonatic on 2/26/2012 12:41:25 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
All he needs now is to get pregnant and he 'll really be the 99%


What are they putting in the water over there?


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By SPOOFE on 2/26/2012 3:25:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What are they putting in the water over there?

Fluoride, chlorine, ozone, and way too literal an interpretation of the phrase "free country".


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By BillyBatson on 2/25/12, Rating: 0
RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By tayb on 2/27/2012 12:50:38 PM , Rating: 3
You said you were unemployed and HAD to cut off your internet. That's quite a departure from "I decided to cut off my internet because I don't use it."

More likely is that 95% of your "story" is complete nonsense. When you lie, forget the details, it's too much to remember anyway.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By BillyBatson on 2/25/12, Rating: -1
RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By seamonkey79 on 2/25/2012 11:56:20 PM , Rating: 3
Don't make us weep for you by saying you had to cut off your Time Warner. If you've enough to 'still out partying' then you've enough to have paid for that. You made your choices, you weren't forced into them.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Icebain on 2/26/2012 10:36:21 AM , Rating: 2
Being unemployed, providing nothing, is not a position I envy.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By SPOOFE on 2/26/2012 3:26:52 PM , Rating: 2
I wish my mommy and daddy would buy me a new superphone every year.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Jeffk464 on 2/27/2012 3:49:38 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, my dad boaught me the Samsung galaxy nexus. It is pretty damn cool. :)


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By BillyBatson on 1/2/2013 10:07:48 PM , Rating: 1
I know this is an oldddd post lol but mommy and daddy? You want your parents to pay for your shit? The only parent in my life for the last 15 years has been my mom and she doesn't pay a single cent for anything of mine. If you want to be a mooch to right ahead.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By thurston2 on 2/26/2012 8:43:36 PM , Rating: 3
This website has more dicks that any other website on the Internet.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Bryan54 on 2/26/2012 10:16:54 PM , Rating: 2
Nail on the head, brother.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By tastyratz on 2/27/2012 8:36:59 AM , Rating: 2
sound's painful...


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Bryan54 on 2/26/2012 10:16:07 PM , Rating: 2
Oh... My...Goodness!

I have never seen a group of men so shamelessly give themselves fellatio! This has to be a joke. It boggles my mind that you people are the contributing members of society.

First off, What kind of person jumps at the opportunity to berate someone who's clearly not being contentious. You've put someone down and elevated yourself by default. Congratulations!!!

If this is the game you insist on playing, so be it:

quote:
That's the spirit! You're unemployed (by your own account), but damn if you won't get the iPhone5 the day it comes out. Quick, someone enshrine this for all of history: it frames such a large portion of the country's mentality so perfectly.


kjboughton,

Someone get me a New Years rattler! He's first out of the gate to expose himself as an utter parasite on the collective existence of humanity.

Quick, Someone enshrine this for all of history: it's yet another senseless addition to what could have been a poignant argument!

quote:
Eviction notice in one hand, iphone 4S in the other. All he needs now is to get pregnant and he'll really be the 99%.


Someguy123,

You've joined in the fray to assert yourself as what, a contributionist?

How about holding your tongue until you can piece together cogent idea.

Thanks in advance.

quote:
Don't make us weep for you by saying you had to cut off your Time Warner. If you've enough to 'still out partying' then you've enough to have paid for that. You made your choices, you weren't forced into them.


seamonkey79,

Be happy that he's out partying and stumbling through life in an inebriated state. For if he wasn't, the result would most certainly be the realization that behind the veil of BS you speak from, your nothing but an empty shell of a man.

quote:
I wish my mommy and daddy would buy me a new superphone every year.


SPOOFE,

I wish my mother and father would have touched me inappropriately as a child so I could be as inconsequential as you! YAY...

Haha, you honestly felt the need to seek out a public forum for your voice to be heard?

quote:
Um, no. Couple reasons why: 1. Shareholders > customers 2. Not maximizing your profit margin is poor management, even if you're a private company. What you should say is that AT&T et al should provide more reasonable guidelines and governance of their "unlimited" plans. The kicker being that no one in the industry really does things any differently...so you can either get kicked in the nuts by AT&T, or go to Verizon and let them do the kicking. Or T-Mobile. Etc.


Motoman,

You're the type of person who accepts information as truthful only if it's been chewed and regurgitated into your mouth by an authoritative figure. You lack any ability to discern information for yourself – If the first part was unclear...

As a whole, the Anandtech comment field is plagued with a uniform aggressive ignorance that is nauseatingly consistent. Groupthink, if you will. It's like a gathering of the Fox & Friends viewership bouncing “their” ideas off one another.

How the shame of your existences escapes you is a source of great consternation for me.

End of example.

You see how easy that was?

It doesn't take much to talk out one's butt (as you all should know).


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By sprockkets on 2/26/2012 11:47:15 PM , Rating: 3
RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By someguy123 on 2/27/2012 1:42:59 AM , Rating: 3
My post was clearly a joke, hence the whole male pregnancy. Also your post is pretty hypocritical. We're just commenting on the post he actually made, meanwhile you're pulling things from god knows where.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By xti on 2/27/2012 10:39:14 AM , Rating: 2
man...you are gonna get throttled faster with these long posts. That's like....5 less porn pics you could have seen.

Just steal your neighbors internet like everyone else.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By sprockkets on 2/25/2012 5:48:06 PM , Rating: 2
So their unlimited is like T-Mobile's now eh?

Lame.


RE: I'm going to sue as well.
By Jeffk464 on 2/27/2012 3:47:40 PM , Rating: 3
This did seem like a pretty slam dunk case to me. People signed onto unlimited plans back before data use became an issue. Then after the legal contract was signed ATT basically changed the conditions of the contract. Its a blatantly obvious violation of the contract.


Corporate Greed is a sin!
By holymaniac on 2/25/2012 2:02:08 PM , Rating: 3
I say they jest-fully but also earnestly. Ultimately Corporate obsession with sucking as much money as they can for as little service as possible will fail. Let's take as much as we can for as little effort or cost as possible. That is the MO of corporations.




RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By Motoman on 2/25/2012 3:58:23 PM , Rating: 2
Um, no.

Couple reasons why:

1. Shareholders > customers
2. Not maximizing your profit margin is poor management, even if you're a private company.

What you should say is that AT&T et al should provide more reasonable guidelines and governance of their "unlimited" plans. The kicker being that no one in the industry really does things any differently...so you can either get kicked in the nuts by AT&T, or go to Verizon and let them do the kicking. Or T-Mobile. Etc.


RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By EricMartello on 2/25/2012 7:37:35 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
1. Shareholders > customers


Without paying customers there will not be very many shares to be held.

quote:
2. Not maximizing your profit margin is poor management, even if you're a private company.


It is arguable that stating a plan is "unlimited" means that you can use as much as you want without incurring any kind of penalty. While the speeds are advertised as "up to 3G/4G", that depends on environmental conditions. Throttling is a limitation directly imposed by the company and should not be considered a valid condition for reduced access speed - it is be a breach of contract by the provider.

You're right that the bottom line should be a primary focus for any business, but that is not to the exclusion of ethics. The main focus of any company should be providing a value to their customers.

Due to the current regulatory system on radio bands by the FCC, broadcast and OTA services like mobile phones are only available to individuals or companies with deep pockets - even then, licensing the spectrum depends on availability and a lot of the spectrum that is unused is bought up to prevent competition.


RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By Motoman on 2/26/2012 12:14:32 PM , Rating: 2
You've utterly missed the point on #1.

Shareholders call the shots at any public company - not the customers. If the company begins to tank...for example, if the company's policies are pissing off customers to the point where they're taking their business elsewhere, then the shareholders will demand action.

The problem there is that all carriers do the same things...have the same policies, and the same definitions of "unlimited." Ergo, there is nowhere else to take your business as a customer where you'll get better service/product. So no point in leaving. Shareholders win again.

And you're a bit deluded about:

quote:
The main focus of any company should be providing a value to their customers.


That's a nice sentiment. But it's not how business works. Businesses exist to make money. They make money by providing value to customers...but make no mistake, businesses have to maximize margin in order to grow and survive. Every business always works to find the maximum balance of margin vs. customer satisfaction. Always. Has to be that way. Netflix is a good example - they built a great reputation in the beginning as "providing great value to the customer" - then they realized that they have to maximize margin, and they overstepped their bounds, and had to back track. Finding their balance...not always easy. But always a requirement - lest the shareholders oust the CEO and the board and replace you with someone else who will get the job done.


RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By EricMartello on 2/26/2012 5:52:09 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
Shareholders call the shots at any public company - not the customers. If the company begins to tank...for example, if the company's policies are pissing off customers to the point where they're taking their business elsewhere, then the shareholders will demand action.


A little dense are we? You just affirmed my point by stating that if customers decided to take their business elsewhere, the shareholders will "demand action". Shareholders are simply investors with a stake in the company, nothing more.

quote:
The problem there is that all carriers do the same things...have the same policies, and the same definitions of "unlimited." Ergo, there is nowhere else to take your business as a customer where you'll get better service/product. So no point in leaving. Shareholders win again.


This has nothing to do with shareholders, and they are not free to define "unlimited" so that it falls in line with their marketing scheme. Looks like you ignored the whole thing about OTA service providers essentially having a monopoly due to the conditions created by the FCC, which is why the can get away with bending their customers over backwards for fees and sh1t. A lack of a better option doesn't make the only option "acceptable".

quote:
That's a nice sentiment. But it's not how business works. Businesses exist to make money. They make money by providing value to customers...but make no mistake, businesses have to maximize margin in order to grow and survive.


Does stating the obvious make you feel intelligent?

quote:
Every business always works to find the maximum balance of margin vs. customer satisfaction. Always.


No, not always, especially if the company is a monopoly. I wonder why a guy who parrots generic statements believes he has such deep insights into "how business works" that he is qualified to use words like "always" or "never" in describing their operating policies.

quote:
Has to be that way. Netflix is a good example - they built a great reputation in the beginning as "providing great value to the customer" - then they realized that they have to maximize margin, and they overstepped their bounds, and had to back track. Finding their balance...not always easy. But always a requirement - lest the shareholders oust the CEO and the board and replace you with someone else who will get the job done.


I like how you go from:

"Not maximizing your profit margin is poor management, even if you're a private company."

To this:

"Finding their balance...not always easy. But always a requirement"

You're either in support of "maximizing" to the exclusion of providing a real value to the customer, i.e. movie and record labels, or you agree with what I said before. Providing a value to the customer will inherently strike a balance between revenue and customer satisfaction - but that's not what most big corporations do.

Your argument that focusing on revenue "has to be that way" is inherently flawed, and is a reflection of the extremist capitalist mentality that has turned America from a great, productive nation full of skilled and intelligent people into a corporate dictatorship that has very little of value to offer. This is easily evidenced by the fact that the US perpetually operates in a deficit.


RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By Bryan54 on 2/26/2012 10:27:12 PM , Rating: 2
Amen brother!

Your post should have been accompanied by a 808 sub-bass drop, because that's how impactful it was.

It's welcome relief to see a perspective articulated in such a concise fashion, that isn't just an ejaculatory exercise for the author.

Is Eric the lone voice of reason at Anandtech!?!?


RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By Jeffk464 on 2/27/2012 3:53:31 PM , Rating: 2
Shareholders at least the little guy investors have very little say in corporation. The board and CEO basically have complete say, which in all honestly for most things probably has positive results. The exception to this is CEO's stacking the board and using it to set their salaries and benefits.


RE: Corporate Greed is a sin!
By redraider89 on 2/27/2012 2:09:01 PM , Rating: 2
What a hypocrite. Are you going to try to lie to me and say that you don't try to get the most or best for the price you are paying? YOU DO THE SAME THING you claim AT&T is doing. Yet when AT&T does it, or any business, regardless of being a corporation or not, it's a sin.

So, since you apparently believe corporations are evil and sinful, you aren't going to buy anything anymore from any "corporation"? That means you won't buy most food products in the grocery store, which is a corporation, too, and includes clothing stores, which is a corporation that sells clothes made by a corporation? And on and on... Just what I thought, hypocrite. Walk your talk or admit that "corporations" are not as EVIL as you make them out to be.


Jailbreak...
By cmdrdredd on 2/25/2012 2:25:29 PM , Rating: 3
It's his device, he should be free to unlock it via jailbreak. The fact that it then offered free tethering without AT&T knowing it shouldn't matter because it can just as easily be tied to another carrier. Plus it shouldn't matter in the legal proceedings because the terms of the contract say "unlimited". Not "unlimited speeds until you reach 2GB usage". So it shouldn't matter how he uses the device, AT&T agreed to give him unlimited when he signed up and it's not his fault AT&T didn't have the foresight to increase their network capacity to account for the number of users.




RE: Jailbreak...
By sigmatau on 2/25/2012 4:00:20 PM , Rating: 2
I will sue one of the T's out of At&t if they dare throttle me. I've had data usage that varied from 1.5GB to 5GB a month, averaging over 2GBs. I dare them to try.


RE: Jailbreak...
By Motoman on 2/25/2012 4:34:59 PM , Rating: 2
No...at most, you'll sue them for "actual damages" - which would likely be whatever your plan cost was during the disputed time period.

But you go right on ahead and try to convince a judge that you should win a third of AT&T's net worth because they slowed down your access to porn for a while...a service you were paying them, what, $75 for? Yeah - you go on and take that T.


RE: Jailbreak...
By darckhart on 2/26/2012 2:25:57 AM , Rating: 2
agree. we're paying for unlimited data access thru the phone. it doesn't make a damn difference how we choose to consume that data. if your network can't support unlimited, don't offer unlimited. in any case, this whole tiered pricing is ridiculous. nowhere else does a MB cost so much. i dropped att 5 years ago and haven't looked back.


RE: Jailbreak...
By drycrust3 on 2/26/2012 9:59:12 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
AT&T agreed to give him unlimited when he signed up and it's not his fault AT&T didn't have the foresight to increase their network capacity to account for the number of users.

I totally agree. AT & T have a marketing department that decided to sell this product because it looks good, without regard for how much profit (or loss) the product generates, nor for the impact it has on other users. If the product isn't making a profit, or doesn't contribute to the company's profit, then AT&T shouldn't be selling it.


RE: Jailbreak...
By Rukkian on 2/28/2012 3:12:53 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think anywhere it says unlimited speeds. Unlimited refers to the amount of data, not how fast you get the pron.
I agree that jailbreaking should not matter, but stealing service does.


Class-action suit to follow?
By Denithor on 2/25/2012 1:41:04 PM , Rating: 2
Perhaps the lawyers will smell blood and begin a frenzy?

Could be awesome for those of us still on unlimited plans!




RE: Class-action suit to follow?
By RabidDog on 2/25/2012 10:23:37 PM , Rating: 3
Don't file a class-action. It will hurt them a lot more if 1000;s of people file small claims against ATT. To defend against the $850 suit, it probably cost ATT $10k.


RE: Class-action suit to follow?
By Icebain on 2/26/2012 10:37:59 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention the fact that they're going to appeal it most likely. Start racking up the lawyer fees!


I hope this sets a precedent.
By Adam M on 2/26/2012 6:31:50 PM , Rating: 2
The carriers have every right to impose what ever restrictions they please. Customers have every right to abandon ship when a carrier does so. When a company Offers something like "unlimited" they are obligated to live up to their own choice of words. Unlimited up to "X" amount is BS, especially if comes after a person is already a customer locked in contract. I read a report the other day that claims this issue has nothing to do with so called "data hogs", it is simply a ploy to move customers from unprofitable unlimited plans to tier plans that include heavy overage charges. My use of Pandora on a daily basis would easily place me in that "data hog" category. I that find strange, why have all of these nifty mobile apps, if you have to find a WiFi spot to use them on your mobile phone? Sure, there might be an app for any given task or service, but you can't use it, you have hit your data cap.
Please, by all means, sue. Not only is it the American way, in this case it is actually justified.




RE: I hope this sets a precedent.
By Jeffk464 on 2/27/2012 3:55:15 PM , Rating: 2
No, that's not true. When you buy a 2 year plan its a legally binding contract. At the end of the 2 years the company has the right to make changes.


Actually the only winners are....
By Veroxious on 2/27/2012 4:12:25 AM , Rating: 2
You guessed it........the lawyers. At the end of the day no matter what, how or who the lawyers win. Alone........

As for the article.... I learnt a long time ago capped accounts are the best. Just pay for what you actually need.




By Jeffk464 on 2/27/2012 3:57:02 PM , Rating: 2
Thats exactly what people did when they signed up for unlimited plans that were offered by these companies 2-3 years ago. The companies screwed up I guess and should not have offered these contracts, but that's hindsight.


Need to enforce what Unlimited really means
By JediJeb on 2/27/2012 11:10:25 AM , Rating: 2
I hate to think of adding more laws or regulations to what we already have, but there really needs to be something out there saying that you can not advertise something as "Unlimited" unless it is truly without limits.

"Free" is another term that gets abused often in advertising. When you say you get a "Free" item when you purchase another, then the cost of that item is the purchase of the first, not "Free"

You would think the Truth in Advertising regulations would cover such things more strictly.




By Dr of crap on 2/28/2012 12:27:18 PM , Rating: 2
Really?
In what world have you been living?

Not that I disagree with your statements, but marketing like that has been going on for a long time.
Buyer beware!


"Nowadays, security guys break the Mac every single day. Every single day, they come out with a total exploit, your machine can be taken over totally. I dare anybody to do that once a month on the Windows machine." -- Bill Gates














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