Apple hit with second class action lawsuit over Wi-Fi Assist data overages

Posted:
in General Discussion edited November 2015
Apple was hit with another class action lawsuit over iOS 9's new Wi-Fi Assist feature on Friday, with plaintiffs seeking a jury trial for damages in excess of $5 million.




The complaint, filed with the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California by Arizona native William B. Cottrell, reads almost identically to a separate suit leveled in the same jurisdiction last month. Both class actions foist responsibility on Apple for not disclosing the potential for cellular data overages resulting from iOS 9's new Wi-Fi Assist feature, a move plaintiffs argue costs unwitting customers exorbitant carrier fees.

Apple is accused of negligent misrepresentation and violation of California's unfair competition law and false advertisement law for rolling out Wi-Fi Assist without first properly informing customers of its potential pitfalls. Plaintiffs go further in today's filing, saying Apple purposely mislead iOS 9 device users by omitting or concealing various material facts about the feature.

A new software function in iOS 9, Wi-Fi Assist automatically switches to a cellular data network if it determines the user's device is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal. For example, devices connecting to a free Wi-Fi hotspot will remember that network and automatically reconnect whenever it is in range. This might pose a problem for people living in metropolitan areas, as their iPhone or iPad latches onto known networks even if it's signal is comparably weaker than an available cellular data connection.

The feature is designed to provide a seamless experience for smart device owners increasingly reliant on data connections to drive Web browsers, apps and other third-party services. Prior to Wi-Fi Assist, some users were forced to "forget" particularly bothersome networks -- an iOS Settings menu option -- or switch off Wi-Fi connectivity altogether.

As noted by the lawsuit, however, Apple chose to enable Wi-Fi Assist by default. While convenient, customers unaware of the feature's inclusion in iOS 9 might chew through capped data allotments thinking their device is on an all-you-can-eat Wi-Fi network.

After a barrage of complaints Apple published a support document on its website detailing how Wi-Fi Assist works and, perhaps more importantly, how to disable it. Plaintiffs, however, contend the company did not act swiftly enough.

According to today's filing, "millions" of consumers were negatively impacted by Apple's actions. It is unclear how customers are running through such large amounts of data, however, as Wi-Fi Assist does not activate with data-intensive third-party apps like music or video streamers and email clients.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 59
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,481member
    I'm puzzled because I got a request to turn on this feature and I said no. If I said yes and then had overages who's fault is it?
  • Reply 2 of 59
    fallenjtfallenjt Posts: 4,056member
    This is what made this country great: dumb people! Having worked in corporates for a long time and we did a lot of risk assessments that were unbelievably dumb for just an average high school student, not professionals with college degrees....like : "Don't put foods/drinks in toxic chemical fridges or Do not place your hand inside this hot oven..."...
  • Reply 3 of 59
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post



    I'm puzzled because I got a request to turn on this feature and I said no. If I said yes and then had overages who's fault is it?

     

    Actually, it really is partly Apple's. I am one of the few remaining AT&T subs who still have the original unlimited data plans. So when I updated and initially saw that notice, I naturally thought it was a fine idea. In October, I went to Spain. I remember to get an international plan with the same data plan I'd used in past travels. On day 2 I was shocked to receive a notice that I'd already used 75% or 80% of my plan. It was then that I remembered that damned data assist thing. I purchased a bigger data plan then went through iOS switching apps off from using data, and of course I nixed the data assist. Now obviously, a good deal of the above situation was my own lapse. But one of the things that killed me was that I was still mostly using my iPhone in places where I had wifi. The wifi must not have been very good and the iPhone started gobbling up my cell-data. But you have no real way of seeing that this is happening. And there's where the problem is. This is a feature that potentially will use your data very rapidly and not give you any sense of how much or how fast.

     

    Implicit in your post is that you understood how obvious it was that you'd have overages. If it's so obvious that it needs to be turned off, then there is potential liability in creating the feature without better safeguards. Personally, I have enough money to swallow the bitter pill of my lesson. But maybe you should have a little empathy for people who were genuinely caught off guard. 

     

    I think it would be a nice feature if there was something (like a band across the top of the screen, similar to the green "phone call in background" thing) that changes color to warn you of how much "data assist" you're getting. This was a very clever feature, implemented without the attention to detail that Apple used to be good at.

  • Reply 4 of 59
    ronbo wrote: »
    Actually, it really is partly Apple's. I am one of the few remaining AT&T subs who still have the original unlimited data plans. So when I updated and initially saw that notice, I naturally thought it was a fine idea. In October, I went to Spain. I remember to get an international plan with the same data plan I'd used in past travels. On day 2 I was shocked to receive a notice that I'd already used 75% or 80% of my plan. It was then that I remembered that damned data assist thing. I purchased a bigger data plan then went through iOS switching apps off from using data, and of course I nixed the data assist. Now obviously, a good deal of the above situation was my own lapse. But one of the things that killed me was that I was still mostly using my iPhone in places where I had wifi. The wifi must not have been very good and the iPhone started gobbling up my cell-data. But you have no real way of seeing that this is happening. And there's where the problem is. This is a feature that potentially will use your data very rapidly and not give you any sense of how much or how fast.

    Implicit in your post is that you understood how obvious it was that you'd have overages. If it's so obvious that it needs to be turned off, then there is potential liability in creating the feature without better safeguards. Personally, I have enough money to swallow the bitter pill of my lesson. But maybe you should have a little empathy for people who were genuinely caught off guard. 

    I think it would be a nice feature if there was something (like a band across the top of the screen, similar to the green "phone call in background" thing) that changes color to warn you of how much "data assist" you're getting. This was a very clever feature, implemented without the attention to detail that Apple used to be good at.

    If you're WiFi is disconnected from your status bar and you're using data, then it's going to be over the cellular connection. You can also check in Settings to see what apps are using and how much they are using over the cellular connection. It's a great feature that's long overdue, but if you have a shitty route and/or a shitty wireless setup that's not Apple's fault. It's off by default.
  • Reply 5 of 59
    Ehm...
    I'll just leave it here but first of all I agree with rondo.

    Meanwhile, it's interesting but why haven't I heard about any complaints and suits for Google for the very same Android feature... I guess it's because suing Apple makes your PR boosting and suing Google is not that much...

    -----------------
    With my Regards,
    Denis Volin
    -----------------
    I'm a switcher. I mean that I've switched from Apple to big SK rival earlier this year (2015) but only with mobile devices. I did it after a bit loosen fulfilling of expectations for the iOS8. Nevertheless, it took me one day to get the device, two weeks to push myself into actual using and three hours to start liking and loving it. After a month of iOS deprivation I've got clean and started questioning some recently so seemed to be brilliant Apple ideas.
  • Reply 6 of 59
    To understand the issues this could cause you might consider restoring from a back up, on a new device for example. This actually happened to me yesterday and chewed through half of my 7gb allotment. The same thing happened two months ago when I was troubleshooting what I thought was a problematic iOS 9 beta.

    Neither time was I prompted with the option to turn this off during set up.
  • Reply 7 of 59
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by genovelle View Post



    I'm puzzled because I got a request to turn on this feature and I said no. If I said yes and then had overages who's fault is it?



    Why is Apple "requesting" anything from you? You should be "requesting" from Apple.

  • Reply 8 of 59
    FFS...
  • Reply 9 of 59
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,199member
    Geez, it isn't as though Apple is making money from this feature
  • Reply 10 of 59
    To understand the issues this could cause you might consider restoring from a back up, on a new device for example. This actually happened to me yesterday and chewed through half of my 7gb allotment. The same thing happened two months ago when I was troubleshooting what I thought was a problematic iOS 9 beta.

    Neither time was I prompted with the option to turn this off during set up.

    You should've had a faster WiFi connection /s
  • Reply 11 of 59
    pmzpmz Posts: 3,433member

    The only way in which I can see this feature as a grey area is the fact that WHEN the Wi-Fi assist kicks in, you will still see the Wi-Fi indicator in the status bar...albeit probably 1-2 bars (poor connection).

     

    HOWEVER, there is no written rule anywhere that says your device is using ZERO data when the Wi-Fi logo is visible. So, therefore no user anywhere has any recourse whatsoever over data being used at any point in time.

     

    If the you as the user do not want cellular data used...turn it off. You have no case against Apple.

  • Reply 12 of 59
    I thought everyone had to agree with the license agreement when they updated their software. If you don't read the small print, how is this Apple's fault?
  • Reply 13 of 59
    I thought everyone had to agree with the license agreement when they updated their software. If you don't read the small print, how is this Apple's fault?

    I don't think the agreement no one reads is enough to indemnify any company. If Apple put in there that by clicking 'agree' you will allow your mouth to be sewn to the butthole of another person and allow yet another person's lips to be sewn to your butthole so that you can share once gastrointestinal tract, I don't think that would be legally binding.


    [VIDEO] [VIDEO]
  • Reply 14 of 59

    The real problem is, in the US they graduate over an order of magnitude more lawyers than engineers. In japan the condition is reversed they graduate an order of magnitude more engineers than lawyers. Is it any wonder that the US is trillions in debt to the Japanese. (a small country (by comparison) with a small fraction of the natural resources) 

    They build while we litigate.

  • Reply 15 of 59
    solipsismy wrote: »
    I don't think the agreement no one reads is enough to indemnify any company. If Apple put in there that by clicking 'agree' you will allow your mouth to be sewn to the butthole of another person and allow yet another person's lips to be sewn to your butthole so that you can share once gastrol track, I don't think that would be legally binding.


    [VIDEO]

    [VIDEO]

    Oh. ****.
  • Reply 16 of 59
    ronboronbo Posts: 669member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    If you're WiFi is disconnected from your status bar and you're using data, then it's going to be over the cellular connection. You can also check in Settings to see what apps are using and how much they are using over the cellular connection. It's a great feature that's long overdue, but if you have a shitty route and/or a shitty wireless setup that's not Apple's fault. It's off by default.



    But what you're talking about isn't what's hurting people. It's not the obvious case where there was zero wifi so the phone used its cell. It's always been able to do that. We're talking about the situation where your phone sees wifi, but it decides the bandwidth isn't great enough, so it supplements by opening another pipe, which happens to be cell. As a user, precisely what indication does the phone give you when it does this? None. What you're saying is that it's good that the phone and do this, and I agree. But you have to recognize the very real potential for downside. And what's surprising is that Apple didn't see that downside and plan for it. There are any number of things they could have done to give the user some sense of what was happening, and how much data you're using. And it seems not to have occurred to them. 

  • Reply 17 of 59
    ronbo wrote: »

    But what you're talking about isn't what's hurting people. It's not the obvious case where there was zero wifi so the phone used its cell. It's always been able to do that. We're talking about the situation where your phone sees wifi, but it decides the bandwidth isn't great enough, so it supplements by opening another pipe, which happens to be cell. As a user, precisely what indication does the phone give you when it does this? None. What you're saying is that it's good that the phone and do this, and I agree. But you have to recognize the very real potential for downside. And what's surprising is that Apple didn't see that downside and plan for it. There are any number of things they could have done to give the user some sense of what was happening, and how much data you're using. And it seems not to have occurred to them. 

    When the phone determines that the bandwidth too minimal to be functional it should be disconnecting from the WiFi and therefore the WiFi icon should go away. If this is not the case, then I can see Apple as being at fault for giving a false reading as the WiFi icon shown on iOS is a indicator that WiFi is present and active for data.
  • Reply 18 of 59
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SolipsismY View Post





    When the phone determines that the bandwidth too minimal to be functional it should be disconnecting from the WiFi and therefore the WiFi icon should go away. If this is not the case, then I can see Apple as being at fault for giving a false reading as the WiFi icon shown on iOS is a indicator that WiFi is present and active for data.

    sounds a bit like common sense. It will never catch on lol

  • Reply 19 of 59

    No matter who's to blame you don't see AT&T, VZW, Sprint and T-Mobile demanding Apple fix the issue do we?

    They won't complain because that feature creates more money for them.

    Apple also knows they can fix this by turning it off by Default when they update iOS 9 again.

     

    We all know this is a scam to make more money.

  • Reply 20 of 59
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,917member
    This feature's default is Apple's biggest stupidity and irony is they still don't realize. Damn it. Turn it off by default. Let customer go into settings and turn on.

    You can display message that turning this feature will enhance your seamless connectivity between wifi and cellualr by automatic switching but also increase your data usage" Do you still want to turn on ? Yes or No/Cancel.
    Is this so hard ?
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