Apple faces $5 million class action lawsuit over its iOS 9 Wi-Fi assist feature

By midian182
Oct 26, 2015
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  1. Apple is facing a $5 million class action lawsuit from a disgruntled Californian couple who say it should reimburse customers who have ran up excessive data charges due to the new Wi-Fi Assist feature launched on iOS 9.

    Wi-Fi Assist, which is enabled by default, automatically switches to cellular data whenever a user's Wi-Fi connection is poor. Despite the cellular data icon appearing in a device’s status bar whenever the feature is activated, many users have reportedly not realized that they are using up their data allowance. As a result, people have allegedly been running up large bills for data usage while believing they were on their home Wi-Fi.

    After William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips had to pay excess data charges on both of their iPhone 5S devices, the couple launched a class action lawsuit which alleges that Apple violated California's Unfair Competition Law, its False Advertising Law, and also accuses the company of negligent misrepresentation.

    The lawsuit goes on to claim that Apple initially never even mentioned the feature, that it continues to underestimate the potential costs it could incur, and by the time the company created a support page the damage had already been done. The plaintiffs allege the total potential damages exceed $5 million.

    After it received the initial complaint, Apple updated its Wi-Fi Assist support page to clarify that the feature doesn’t work when you’re data roaming, doesn’t activate with background downloading of content, and won’t work with certain third-party apps which use large amounts of data. The lawsuit argues that this is not enough. It says it “still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur,” and that “reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications – all of which can use significant data.”

    While several Android handset manufacturers have equivalent features on their smartphones, such as Samsung’s Smart Network Switch, none have faced similar lawsuits.

    Permalink to story.

  2. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,341   +1,939

    The simple solution to that problem is just to disable mobile data altogether in the settings and use wi-fi. Switch it on when you absolutely must have it or there is no other alternative. It's what I and all people I know do. Wi-fi hotspots are everywhere (at least where I live they are).
    Samsungs Smart Network Switch is something I wouldn't use but I do know it at least warns you about incurring additional charges when activated. I don't know about Apples take on this because I don't know anybody personally who uses an iPhone whom I could ask.
    Good luck to this lot trying to get 5 mil out tight fisted Apple, they can count themselves lucky if they manage to get 5 bucks.
  3. Panda218

    Panda218 TS Addict Posts: 269   +99

    My girlfriend ended up going over her allotted monthly data by 1.5gbs due to her thinking she was connected to WiFi when downloading her podcasts... I had to hear about it for the remaining 19 days of her billing period and would like Apple to pay me back for all the bitching I had to endure.
  4. caboob

    caboob TS Rookie

    While obvious to all us tech enthusiasts, this is not obvious to the typical tech neophyte that gets this phone because "it just works". I'm shocked that apple missed inserting a notification about this detail. I guess that's part of living in the walled garden.
    Techman3 likes this.
  5. davislane1

    davislane1 TS Evangelist Posts: 3,375   +2,166

    Won't happen. Contrary to popular belief, you can turn off the push notifications for every girlfriend: Settings --> feelings --> I don't want to hear it.

    This is a case of user error.

    As for the Wi-Fi assist...
    mojorisin23 likes this.
  6. Change the name to "Let-us-assist-you-with-using-up-your-data-and-increasing-your-bill".
  7. Skidmarksdeluxe

    Skidmarksdeluxe TS Evangelist Posts: 6,341   +1,939

    OK what I wanted to say without being long winded is that you can't expect the manufacturer to be responsible for your stupidity. You don't have to be a technical person to figure out such a simple thing, all you just need is just a smattering of good old fashioned common sense.
    If this lot succeeds in getting Apple to cough up (which they won't) it'll set a precedent. Hell, everybody will be filing such law suits against manufacturers. These people are chancers.
    Anyway a 5 million buck suit is totally asinine, what individual can use that amount of data in a month?
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  8. bexwhitt

    bexwhitt TS Addict Posts: 289   +55

    "While several Android handset manufacturers have equivalent features on their smartphones, , such as Samsung’s Smart Network Switch, none have faced similar lawsuits."

    Because Isheep can't be expected to think.
  9. sthet81

    sthet81 TS Rookie Posts: 18

    Smart phones DO NOT make you smart. I don't like some things turning on by default by Apple like iMessage but all you have to do is get familiar with your settings. Turn things on or off as you like and if you don't understand a setting then just ask Google. Also for those talking about they are going over their data, each carrier notifies you either by email or text that you're about to hit the limit. So if you go over then whose fault is that?!!

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