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posted by martyb on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:03PM   Printer-friendly
from the forced-arbitration dept.

AT&T loses key ruling in class action over unlimited-data throttling:

AT&T's mandatory-arbitration clause is unenforceable in a class-action case over AT&T's throttling of unlimited data, a panel of US appeals court judges ruled this week.

The nearly five-year-old case has gone through twists and turns, with AT&T's forced-arbitration clause initially being upheld in March 2016. If that decision had stood, the customers would have been forced to have any complaints heard individually in arbitration.

But an April 2017 decision by the California Supreme Court in a different case effectively changed the state's arbitration law, causing a US District Court judge to revive the class action in March 2018.

AT&T appealed that ruling to the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, but a three-judge panel at that court rejected AT&T's appeal in a ruling issued Tuesday. Judges said they must follow the California Supreme Court decision—known as the McGill rule—"which held that an agreement, like AT&T's, that waives public injunctive relief in any forum is contrary to California public policy and unenforceable."

[...] The class-action suit alleged that AT&T "used deceptive and unfair trade practices by marketing its mobile service data plans as 'unlimited' when AT&T allegedly limited those plans in several ways, including 'throttling'—slowing down mobile data speeds after the consumer uses an undisclosed, predetermined amount of mobile data," appeals court judges noted in this week's decision.

AT&T changed its policy in 2015 so that customers are throttled only when the network is congested. Previously, the carrier throttled unlimited data plans after customers used either 3GB or 5GB each month, depending on which plan they had, severely limiting speeds for the rest of the monthly billing period regardless of whether or not the network was congested.


Original Submission

Related Stories

Big Three Carriers Pay $10M to Settle Claims of False “Unlimited” Advertising 46 comments

https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2024/05/big-three-carriers-pay-10m-to-settle-claims-of-false-unlimited-advertising/

T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T will pay a combined $10.2 million in a settlement with US states that alleged the carriers falsely advertised wireless plans as "unlimited" and phones as "free." The deal was announced yesterday by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

"A multistate investigation found that the companies made false claims in advertisements in New York and across the nation, including misrepresentations about 'unlimited' data plans that were in fact limited and had reduced quality and speed after a certain limit was reached by the user," the announcement said.

T-Mobile and Verizon agreed to pay $4.1 million each while AT&T agreed to pay a little over $2 million. The settlement includes AT&T subsidiary Cricket Wireless and Verizon subsidiary TracFone.
[...]
The carriers denied any illegal conduct despite agreeing to the settlement. In addition to payments to each state, the carriers agreed to changes in their advertising practices. It's unclear whether consumers will get any refunds out of the settlement, however.
[...]
The three carriers agreed that all advertisements to consumers must be "truthful, accurate and non-misleading." They also agreed to the following changes, the NY attorney general's office said:

  • "Unlimited" mobile data plans can only be marketed if there are no limits on the quantity of data allowed during a billing cycle.
  • Offers to pay for consumers to switch to a different wireless carrier must clearly disclose how much a consumer will be paid, how consumers will be paid, when consumers can expect payment, and any additional requirements consumers have to meet to get paid.
  • Offers of "free" wireless devices or services must clearly state everything a consumer must do to receive the "free" devices or services.
  • Offers to lease wireless devices must clearly state that the consumer will be entering into a lease agreement.
  • All "savings" claims must have a reasonable basis. If a wireless carrier claims that consumers will save using its services compared to another wireless carrier, the claim must be based on similar goods or services or differences must be clearly explained to the consumer.

The advertising restrictions are to be in place for five years.

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:25PM (16 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:25PM (#961094)

    TMB is so butthurt he put a permanent IP ban on me! Fascism thrives at SoylentNews!

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:39PM (15 children)

      by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:39PM (#961104) Journal
      What do you expect - spam posts are spam posts, and banning spammers is not fascism. Your freedom of speech hasn't been infringed either, so don't start that shit argument again. You're free to go piss up a rope, or whatever it is you get off on, on Facebook or Twitter or the old green site.

      What's that - you can't post on the old green site anonymously? Freedom of speech does not come with a guarantee of anonymity, and anyone who thinks that they can truly use the internet anonymously hasn't noticed the folks convicted of child porn despite using VPNs.

      If TMB banned you, he gets my thanks.

      --
      SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:54PM (7 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:54PM (#961112)

        IP bans as stated by TMB expire after 2 weeks. Not sure why you got so worked up about this, I haven't posted the same message twice ever since.

        "If TMB banned you, he gets my thanks."

        Sorry, asshole FASCIST is what you are. You don't get to uphold ideals only when convenient.

        Given your vehemence over this topic I think you're just an asshole sock puppet with a crafted backstory like so many others here. If you're a real person then you should get therapy, you're so tilted over nothing.

        • (Score: 4, Insightful) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:14PM (6 children)

          by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:14PM (#961126) Journal

          You didn't respond to my point - freedom of speech doesn't come with any other rights attached - no guarantees of anonymity, or that people will want to listen to you. If there's anything pretty much everyone except spammers agrees on, it's that spammers must die.

          As for me, "carefully crafted back story" - you must be another one of those conspiracy nutters. But okay - you caught me - I started crafting my back story over 2 decades ago on the green site just so I could troll you. Despite interviews I've done on national TV news and radio.

          And you'll probably believe that I don't really exist. Because conspiracy nutbar factor 6 types* will believe anything as long as it's unbelievable. And evidence to the contrary just shows how deep the conspiracy runs.

          I've posted my address here and elsewhere - anyone who wants to see if I'm real can come visit, just email first to confirm - though I warn you in advance, I'd probably schedule it to take place where I volunteer, and I'm sure they can put you to work doing some good instead of wasting time with stupidity.

          As for fascist - look who's talking - you condemn me because I agree with someone who disagrees with you but you can't formulate a cogent reply to the points I raise. If you can't be arsed to find coherent arguments to back up your ideology, I'm certainly not under any obligation to do so for you. Neither is anyone else.

          * nutbar factor 6 is attributed to Kevin O'Leary on Dragon's Den with respect to a guy who changed his name to Elvis Presley and wanted to sell paintings of his alien abduction.

          --
          SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
          • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:22PM (5 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:22PM (#961129)

            Heh ok fascist, you're totally real and totally not losing your shit over nothing. Got it! Oh, and words mean nothing, wish I'd known that before we started this argument.

            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:32PM (4 children)

              by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:32PM (#961134)

              Heh ok fascist, you're totally real and totally not losing your shit over nothing.

              The irony is incredible. A fashy around every street corner, behind every lamp post! AAAAAAGGGHHHHHH!

              • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:52PM (3 children)

                by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:52PM (#961140)

                dictionary.com

                The internet was supposed to help people learn, not wallow in their ignorance. I wouldn't make a stink if the site's leadership wasn't so hypocritical, but I guess Miss Hudson is super triggered by the specter of spam.

                • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:50PM (2 children)

                  by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:50PM (#961159) Journal

                  Please don't refrain from being stupid just for my supposed benefit. Spam doesn't "trigger" me - I just hold the same view as the majority of people when it comes to both spam and door-to-door salespeople or Jehovahs Witnesses who come calling when I'm in bed.

                  Funny how the only people defending spammers are spammers. Like the only people defending Jeffrey Epstein were pervs.

                  --
                  SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
                  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @11:01PM (1 child)

                    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @11:01PM (#961203)

                    It is OK barbara jane, you can share your true feelings in this safe space. No one will spam you, especially not but posting a supposed email address on a public forum. You're totally not full of shit, I believe you really.

                    • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 22 2020, @11:17PM

                      by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 22 2020, @11:17PM (#961212) Journal

                      I get spam from this particular forum all the time - more than everywhere else combined. How can I tell? They address me as the editor of soylentnews.

                      Offers of sponsored content, apps, SEO, website redesign ... that last one is really funny because when I go to their website it is SLOW as well as shitty, and speed affects ranking.

                      It mostly automatically goes to the junk folder. And that which doesn't, I flag as junk.

                      --
                      SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @05:04AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @05:04AM (#961304)

        and anyone who thinks that they can truly use the internet anonymously hasn't noticed the folks convicted of child porn despite using VPNs.

        And how many more aren't convicted of child porn (you know, besides the FBI, which is a major distributor of child porn)? Just pointing out that some people have been convicted despite using a VPN only tells us that nothing is perfect. Use of a VPN won't help you if you're incompetent and run malicious scripts/programs. But, generally speaking, you can be anonymous if you want to be.

        • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Sunday February 23 2020, @03:38PM (1 child)

          by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Sunday February 23 2020, @03:38PM (#961408) Journal
          Your VPN can be bulletproof and you still can't be guaranteed to be anonymous. So why not just stop propagating propaganda about how you can be anonymous on the Internet. It's simply not going to happen. Even if you do everything right, you have to trust that the other end did too, and that is a major flaw. Why do you think the feds don't immediately take down illegal sites? They want users to incriminate themselves - and they do, despise VPNs.
          --
          SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @04:35PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @04:35PM (#961436)

            Propaganda about anonymity? Go take your meds, you're a bit unhinged.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @01:07PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @01:07PM (#961383)

        Freedom of speech does not come with a guarantee of anonymity

        True, but anonimity is a pretty good guarantor of free speech.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by barbara hudson on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:45PM

          by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:45PM (#961602) Journal
          Actually it's not. People are automatically suspicious of anyone who doesn't stand behind their words publicly. So any anonymous speech is trading at a discount. So you can say it but you'll probably find few give it much cred. In effect, it's closer to shouting in an empty room BECAUSE it's anonymous. Marked as shills, trolls, anonymous "influencers".
          --
          SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:25PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @10:25PM (#961593)

        fascism is government run industry. with a dash of racism to better select which industry to promote.

        "fascism" is misunderstood, like "hacker" (cracker) or "troll" (disruptif xor offtopic).

  • (Score: 2) by barbara hudson on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:41PM (6 children)

    by barbara hudson (6443) <barbara.Jane.hudson@icloud.com> on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:41PM (#961105) Journal

    I'm shocked, shocked, I say! Everything they touch seems to turn into brown swirlies circling the bowl. Look at their partnershop with Radio Shack as just one example. I'm sure people can find other examples.

    --
    SoylentNews is social media. Says so right in the slogan. Soylentnews is people, not tech.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:33PM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @07:33PM (#961135)

      If that were true then AT&T wouldn't exist.

      Radio Shack was a shame, but it wasn't AT&T that killed them off. In fact that partnership probably kept them limping along a few more years. The real problem was online shopping, hobbyists got more selection and often better prices online. Due to this the selection of electronics components at RS continued to dwindle and they were hocking remote control toys, TVs, and stereos like a small version of Circuit City. Not much future in that, and CC is gone too.

      • (Score: 2) by HiThere on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:34PM (3 children)

        by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:34PM (#961152) Journal

        Maybe. I think the real problem goes back further. To grow their business they distanced themselves from their core market. It's true they would probably have shrunk anyway, but they might well have survived. When Radio Shack merged with Tandy, both forsake their core businesses.

        --
        Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Booga1 on Sunday February 23 2020, @01:55AM (2 children)

          by Booga1 (6333) on Sunday February 23 2020, @01:55AM (#961254)

          Here's what I saw while living with a guy that did radio repair and built his own lasers...

          Both you and AC are pretty much on target.

          They diversified to both grow their customer base and hedge their bets. This worked for a while, but eventually the diversification turned into their new core business as they abandoned their roots. That was also sustainable for a while.

          As consumer electronics became more disposable and less repairable, their original purpose of providing all the components you needed fell. Big box competitors sprung up or spread with huge stores full of electronics, like Best Buy and Circuit City.

          RadioShack stores were all rather small. Even Wal-Mart and Target had more room for the same kinds electronics and toys RadioShack was selling. This was the beginning of what would eventually kill them, and it started long before online shopping.

          RadioShack cut back drastically on the shelf space for components in an attempt to be able to sell to the average customer. This pissed off their original core customers such as that radio repair roommate I mentioned. It became harder to get things immediately so he had to resort to mail order catalogs more often.

          Online ordering starts becoming available for . Cellphones become somewhat affordable. RadioShack starts losing money in earnest. They start cutting back on employee pay which was never all that great to begin with, but they had managed to keep electronics enthusiasts to some degree up until then.

          RadioShack starts an ad campaign "You've got questions, we've got answers" in an attempt to capitalize on that association with knowledgeable and enthusiastic employee base. At the same time, they are losing those same employees and replacing them with people with no experience with the electronics components or their usage. Not that it mattered much since they shrank the component section even further.

          Online ordering becomes widely available. Cellphones become affordable. RadioShack moves into the cellphone business in an attempt to find a new direction that's a growing market. Every other electronics business already moved into selling cellphones at least two or more years earlier. In reality, it's already game over.

          RadioShack's late move into cellphones means they have no market share and can't get the same volume of sales as the big box stores. They can't get good deals from the carriers on phone prices. Customers continue to avoid RadioShack, even for cellphones. Bankruptcy hits. Sprint buys some stores.

          RadioShack gives up on most regular electronics and tries to redesign itself again. They go all out on cellphones, accessories, toys, gadgets, and schlock novelties ala Sharper Image. It doesn't work. Nothing really would have at that point. Bankruptcy hits again. The zombie stores live on to this day.

          I predict they'll bankrupt out again eventually. The stores are just too small. They don't have the volume to compete on price. Nobody thinks of them first for online ordering. It's just taking a really long time for them to finish dying.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @06:08AM (1 child)

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @06:08AM (#961315)

            You have questions?

            We have phones!

            Or

            We have blank stares!

            • (Score: 2) by Booga1 on Sunday February 23 2020, @06:52AM

              by Booga1 (6333) on Sunday February 23 2020, @06:52AM (#961326)

              More of the blank stares really.

              It was during that ad campaign I went to RadioShack with my roommate so he could pick up a couple of components for a laser he damaged when he dropped a screwdriver in it.
              They didn't have what he needed, so he asked the lone guy working the counter if he could order it. Blank stare... dude didn't even know how to order anything. My roommate asked if the manager would know if it was available to order. We were told there was no manager available until tomorrow...
              As we walk out the door, my roommate turns to me and says, "RadioShack: You've got questions, we've got questions."

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by Thexalon on Saturday February 22 2020, @10:36PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Saturday February 22 2020, @10:36PM (#961196)

      AT&T is a lot like The Blob: If you slice it into pieces, it just reconstitutes itself into something that's at least as much a horrible monstrosity as what it was before.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by fustakrakich on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:43PM

    by fustakrakich (6150) on Saturday February 22 2020, @06:43PM (#961106) Journal

    I guess if anybody wants to fix this, turn these services into public utilities, they'll have to replace all those politicians in DC, unless there's another way nobody is talking about.

    --
    La politica e i criminali sono la stessa cosa..
  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:07PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:07PM (#961145)

    Can we please ban forced arbitration in consumer and employment agreements? It's unconscionable and practically removes all ability to recover damages.

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by HiThere on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:36PM (1 child)

      by HiThere (866) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:36PM (#961153) Journal

      Forced arbitration is reasonable, but not if one party is allowed to choose the arbitrators. It should require that both parties agree to the same arbitrator, or it goes to court.

      --
      Javascript is what you use to allow unknown third parties to run software you have no idea about on your computer.
      • (Score: 4, Informative) by Thexalon on Saturday February 22 2020, @10:51PM

        by Thexalon (636) on Saturday February 22 2020, @10:51PM (#961199)

        That's just it: In forced consumer or employer arbitration, the company picks the arbitration company, and in every study that's ever been done on arbitration they've found that arbitrators are picked for their tendency to find in favor of the company. And to stack the deck even further, the company is going to send one of its staff lawyers to the hearing, while the consumer or employee is either representing themselves or paying more for their lawyer than they're going to possibly be able to win in arbitration.

        The effect of this, and SCOTUS rulings regarding private arbitration, has been to effectively eliminate the need for corporations to follow civil laws in the US. For instance, if AT&T just decided to charge all their customers $50 for absolutely no reason, even though they had no contractual basis for doing so, their customers couldn't do anything about it except complain to a rigged fake judicial process.

        --
        The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:37PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @08:37PM (#961154)

    Thought this class action ruling rung a small bell.

    In 2017, big telecom lobbyists convinced Congress to eliminate broadband privacy protections that could have reined in the wireless industry’s abuse of consumer location data. Later that same year, telecom lobbyists convinced the Trump administration to not only eliminate popular net neutrality rules—but much of the FCC’s consumer protection authority.

    Three years later and a new White House report claims that both actions generated up to $50 billion in consumer benefits. There’s just one problem: none of the claims are actually true.

    https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/xgq4xn/white-house-report-is-pure-propaganda-for-atandt-verizon-and-comcast [vice.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @11:50PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2020, @11:50PM (#961221)

      I'll rephrase that for you...
      "Big business lobbyists bought Congress."
      That's how D.C. has operated for probably a century.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @12:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2020, @12:47PM (#961377)

        True, but never before has the White House supported and defended that corruption explicitly.

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