Matt Spaccarelli had a contract with AT&T for service on his iPhone that included unlimited data. But when Spaccarelli used between 1.5 and 2 gigabytes — which you can do after watching just a few high-definition streaming movies — the wireless company would “throttle” his connection for the remainder of his billing cycle, meaning they slowed it down so much that it was essentially useless for watching videos, and hardly worked for surfing the web or playing games. Spaccarelli argued that “unlimited” should mean, well, unlimited.
A judge in California agreed and awarded Spaccarelli $850. The Associated Press reported in March that AT&T, which initially said it would appeal the ruling, changed course and spent Spaccarelli a check for $850 plus $85 for court costs. AT&T, along with most other wireless carriers, has since stopped offering unlimited data plans, but the Associated Press estimates the cellular company still has around 17 million customers with unlimited data contracts that haven’t expired yet. Depending on how many of them it throttles — and how many get as angry and motivated as Spaccarelli — the company could have a slew of small-claims cases on its hands.
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