Apple and AT&T hit with lawsuit over disappearance of iPad unlimited data option

Apple and AT&T have been hit with a class-action lawsuit over what some are calling the bait and switch removal of iPad 3G unlimited data plan. Since June 9, three consumers went to the law firm of Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, LLP to file the amended complaint.

"The availability of an unlimited data plan was a key reason why consumers paid the extra $130 charge to access the 3-G network, and their ability to switch in and out of the unlimited data plan was also an important consideration in the decision to purchase an iPad," stated Lieff Cabraser attorney Michael W. Sobol. "The complaint alleges that Apple and AT&T should have known at the time they were promoting the availability of unlimited data plans, they were not going to keep that promise."

Who is to blame on this one - Apple, AT&T, or both of the companies? Sound off in the comments below!

[Business Wire]

Jeremy

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There are 46 comments. Add yours.

Jax says:

Well didn't they say people can still keep there unlimited plans ?!?

francolasalsa#IM says:

@jax in order for people to keep their unlimited plans ,they have to keep paying every month. They can't stop one month and then resume two months later

HACK-MY-I says:

Yessssss... go after ATT and Apple, they think they can get over easy on people...!!!!!!!

Frenchie says:

AT&T. Apple just builds it and does not provide the service. I don't see why apple is even in the lawsuit to begin with.

ChrisJ says:

fault is consumer - not att. att and apple can change plan at anytime without notice. it in tos and we know that. why get data plan, stop and start? is att forced to offer plan forever? no
@Cycling56 and @hack-my-i - get a clue. if you were business owner, you would know better.
@rene - why you ban my ip?

Shadow says:

It took long enough... I was expecting this weeks ago...

Mr79 says:

LoL, "switch in and out of the unlimited data plan".
Just keep the unlimited plan stupids......
Really!? This lawsuit isn't necessary.
It's just $5 more then the $25 2G plan.......

TumnusMr says:

@Frenchie: Apple were surely in on it. It was a major selling point that Apple pushed at the launch - Unlimited, limited or cancel altogether and swap plans any time you like. Yet only 2 months later they canned that.
So while it's not quite a direct bait and switch, it effectively ends up like that for those who bought the 3G iPad on the basis they could pay for the unlimited plan for just one month when they needed it. If AT&T changed the plan 6 months or 12 months down the line this suit might not have as much of a case, but changing it just 2 months after launch with the unlimited plan being such a big selling point? That's ridiculous.
While they're at it, could they also sue AT&T for charging twice for the same bandwidth for iPhone tethering?

Plazmic says:

If they didn't add Apple, they would have a chance. Apple does not like lawsuits, Steve Jobs absolutely hates them.

chris says:

I see this being thrown out because its not like you can't get data you just can't get unlimited. You can still use as much data as you want but you are going to pay more. So the service has not gone away just the prices have changed.

Chris M says:

At&t duh why would carrier plans be apples fault

sting7k says:

Whaaaa! Show me the contract you signed saying you could get unlimited data. Prices/plans/promotions change without contract.

JoBlow says:

Sorry, but isn't price part of the issue.
Just like bait and switch. Either you have to get a different product or pay more despite the advertised value. And it was advertised in a specific manner and changed, not over a longer period of time (6-12 mnth) but in a short time.

brownat89 says:

So who's going to prove that Apple was told by AT&T before "pushing" the unlimited plan on consumers that AT&T already had plans to switch to a tiered data plan?

brownat89 says:

Plus I'm sure in the fine print from AT&T it'll say something along the lines of "plans aren't guaranteed to last indefinitely."

Ben says:

I agree with MrC. The fault goes to consumers, AT&T offered unlimited and limited plans its not their fault you decided to go month to month back and forward. Now that they took that away and you were on a limited instead of unlimited now people want to complain. AT&T even made it to where people could get the unlimited plan if they had a ipad on order before a certain day its not AT&Ts fault people didnt take them up on it before they changed their plans.

USAFRetired says:

@Ben
Agree 100% with you. It continue to be amazed at the number of people who try to blame others (like ATT or Aplle) for there own mistakes. It's amazing how much people cry when they can't have their way when they want it.

TumnusMr says:

@Ben: wrong Mr I think ;)
What you describe though is exactly the problem. One of the selling points both Apple and AT&T pushed was the fact that you could buy unlimited one month and drop the data altogether the next month. This is very handy for people who mainly use WiFi but know then they may be using their iPad a lot away from WiFi connectivity for a certain period. It doesn't matter if you consider this a silly idea, it was used as a selling point by Apple and AT&T and it appealed to some people.
Yes AT&T have a clause that says they can change these things at any time, but just 2 months after using those features as a big selling point at launch isn't reasonable.

BrianAnus says:

I got unlimited data. Sucks to be you.

mike s says:

The unlimited data plan was cancelled less than 1 month after the 3G iPad became available.
Sounds like bait & switch to me. It would have been very different if the $25 2GB plan was what they showed off, but it wasn't. The magical $29.99 unlimited plan lasted exactly 3 weeks from the day the 3G iPad was first put in customers hands.
That's lawsuit-worthy.

Dyvim says:

Obviously at least AT&T. Possibly Apple as well. This is definitely lawsuit-worthy since they promised you could turn the unlimited plan on/off at any time.

dloveprod says:

You know what they say about Karma, Steve and Randall tisk tisk

Dan says:

AT&T and Apple are both to blame, AT&T for dropping the unlimited plan for all new users (after the beginning of July?) and Apple for providing the iPad/iPhones exclusively through AT&T when there are other providers out there

dcgore says:

Guys,
You have the read the fine print, the service disclaimers state At&t can change the terms and conditions whenever.

seb_or_sam says:

This is obviously a legitimate problem, but is it lawsuit worthy? Personally, I think yes. It's bait and switch. One of the top selling points of the iPad 3G was the special data plans, once of which was unlimited and contract free. Now, you could say that the people who already bought the iPad 3G data plan have unlimited data- so how is it bait and switch? Well, because that was only half of the deal- the deal was unlimited data, contract-free- you could cancel it for one month and renew it the next. You could not have a data plan for 3 months, than go on vacation for one month and pay $30 and boom, you get unlimited data that month. You get the idea. But now, if you want that unlimited, contract-free data plan you signed up for, you have to pay $30 every month, otherwise you lose your unlimited data plan forever. You can't cancel it for even 1 month- if you do, you won't be able to get that plan ever again. That's blatant bait and switch, and I don't know how you can defend that. Read up on the FTC guidelines against bait advertising- I'm pretty sure we can all agree that this fits their description, and is thus lawsuit-worthy:http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/guides/baitads-gd.htm

Gern Blanston says:

I was very upset that the ability to go in and out of an unlimited data plan was removed: I purchased the 3G over the wifi model BECAUSE THAT'S HOW IT WAS SOLD TO ME. If I'm grandfathered into unlimited data, I should also be grandfathered into being able to start and stop the plan as advertised

Brian says:

Wow, anything Apple does, no matter how underhanded, is "acceptable" to you guys, isn't it?
Gotta read the thirty pages of fine print, and if Apple and its partners put in a sentence that says "we can change it at any time" and they do to your detriment, it's your fault! SUCKERS!
Most interesting of all? When Apple and AT&T announced the 3G plan, they were interviewed extensively by a skeptical media who said they weren't convinced AT&T could provide unlimited data in the way it was proposing.
AT&T and Apple claimed that they could do so and it wasn't a problem. Less than a month later, they announced it was quite impossible. And no refund was offered to those who took Apple and AT&T at their word about data service.
Hopefully, they won't make the mistake of taking Apple and AT&T at their word again, and will buy someone else's product next time -- someone who doesn't practice bait-n-switch.

chris says:

So I take it people wouldn't be upset if they changed your iPhone data plan to 500mb tomorrow.

Ryan says:

I used to work for AT&T retail and 'unlimited' is bogus. If everyone read the fine print 'unlimited' is capped off at 2GB per month anyways. So in reality, the 2GB per month plan saves you 5 dollars a month.

Dave says:

My take on the sudden (panic) switcheroo is that somebody suddenly realized they'd sold something they couldn't supply in the unlimited data plan. Coupled with the amazing popularity of the initial iPad sales, AT&T had to realize the drain on the system could potentially flatten it.
My iPad was scheduled to arrive the day they pulled the plug on unlimited, but it came a day early, and I was able to sign up just as the gate slammed shut. But hours earlier, Apple was still touting the unlimited plan on their web site, and the phone support folks had no idea what was coming, why or when. In the three day period between the announcement and the arrival of my iPad, phone support at both AT&T and Apple couldn't agree on what was happening, both blaming the other for the change.
Is it bait and switch? It certainly seems to meet the requirement, but the law will require "intent", and that's a slippery slope, especially when there are two entities involved, and communication between the two may be difficult to prove.

joeblow84 says:

Nothing will come of this, but any opportunity to sue AT&T can't be a bad thing.

kayno says:

no one really.. cause the iPad is not locked to AT&T..Go somehere else they will say..

Boots says:

Yep it's AT&T's fault. It is bait and switch too.

Earless puppy says:

This country has to get over all these lawsuits... When you buy your iPad or get your At&T service there is a premium added in due to these lawsuits...these get rich quick idiots are costing me money.. Maybe I should sue them for suing AT&T

west3man says:

I would love to comment on this wonderful turn of events, but reading the preceding comments is almost distressing. So many so quick to judge after considering so little evidenc....and then expressing that uninformed opinion with sarcasm and snark.
Painful.

Glenn#IM says:

We tend to click on service agreements without really reading them. There is almost always a clause reference "changing plan anytime" in them. It may be a pain, but a good thing to read, and ask questions.

G says:

This is the problem with people. Once they can't get their way, they file some BS lawsuit because they think they're owed something. Get over yourselves people. All carriers reserve the right to change the terms of the contract as they please. You know this when you sign your contract...it's written in plain English (assuming you can read). The judicial system is such a joke...I'm gonna start filing lawsuits against people for complaining about stupid crap...life is too short!

Kev says:

It's both their fault. It was reported that ATT outbid the other carriers. Wasn't that data plan a HUGE selling point at the conference for the iPad? Now a few months later its changed. Apple should've gotten ATT to agree to no price change for x amount of yrs. I think they made SJ look foolish.

Mike says:

It's a bit funny when people say "read the fine print" it says they can change the terms whenever.
Just because it's written down does not make it legal... I read one TOS that said if you ever stop the service you would be forced to give up your first born son to them. Just because that was written it still dosnt make it legal..

Steve says:

I'm usually not a fan of these lawsuits but this one in my opinion has merit. I'm usually a defender of att because too many people complain about anything as if they would not problem X if it was another carrier. I think that the switch to eliminating unlimited data is an attempt to get back to the good old days of gouging client for overage. I understand there are probably some abusers out there but if you must put a cap it should be much higher then 2gig. Maybe something in the range of 10. I would not like it but I might understand. 2 gigs is not the level of somebody abusing there data usage. It's not even a heavy user. It's just an above average ipad user.

Rich says:

The problem with everyone saying "read the fine print" is that the fine print wasn't on the package. I have a 3G 64gb ipad, and it doesn't say anywhere on the box "AT&T can change the plans any time." So I bought it, opened the box, logged onto AT&T, and only then got access to the fine print. It's a bait & switch. IAAL.

anoyonmous says:

is att stupid or somthing if 98% of people are using less than 2gb per month why switch and loose the $5 per person that is just stupid att is going bankrupt for sure.

Bruce says:

Anybody know how do I go about signing on to this lawsuit?

toni says:

When I bought my IPAD before June 6 I had them make a note in my file so I would be eligible for an unlimited plan. After recieving it ATT only would let me activatate a limited plan. They tried to tell me that promise was only good until July 15. But they did not tell me that before july 15. VERY bad--can't wait to get away from aTT. They taint APPLE.

DonoA724 says:

Thank goodness there are people who will fight for our rights! I only wish I had thought of using a class action lawsuit as the vehicle to keep big companies in line. Their power to arbitrarily go into and make changes on our PCs, etc. is dangerous and shouldn't be allowed. There decisions to arbitrarily change the rules after you have purchased ought not be allowed except for emergent situations. This class action can help to put some muscle behind the ordinary consumer!
Thank you!!!