Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission hit AT&T with a $100 million fine, accusing the company of throttling speeds for customers who thought they had unlimited data plans.
According the FCC, "millions of AT&T customers were affected. The customers who were subject to speed reductions were slowed for an average of 12 days per billing cycle, significantly impeding their ability to use common data applications such as GPS mapping or streaming video."
In the complaint, the FCC notes that AT&T has been "using the misleading and inaccurate term "unlimited" to label a data plan that was in fact subject to prolonged speed reductions after a customer used a set amount of data," as well as "failing to disclose the express speed reductions that it applied to "unlimited" data plan customers once they hit a specified data threshold." Last year, the Federal Trade Commission also filed a complaint against AT&T, accusing the company of misleading smartphone customers with unlimited data plans and slowing down their data speeds by as much a 90 percent.
Since the FCC's announcement, AT&T customers have taken their outrage to Twitter, posting screenshots of text messages they are now receiving from the company stating they are close to exceeding their allotted five gigabyte threshold. Once that has been exceeded they "may experience reduced data speeds at times and in areas that are experiencing network congestion."
I recently renewed a 2 year contract with AT&T and now, a week later, I received this data throttling text. Unlimited data is a huge reason I've stayed with AT&T so long, but 5GB is clearly a limit. This will be my last contract with AT&T after being with them for over 10 years. You don't reward customer loyalty with poor service and poor product quality.
— Millennial Money Man (@GenYMoneyMan) June 27, 2015
In 2007, AT&T began offering unlimited data plans for users, but in 2011, the company started capping data speeds for unlimited customers after certain data thresholds were eclipsed. Not surprisingly, since AT&T made this change in 2011, the FCC has received thousands of complaints from AT&T customers. A quick search for "AT&T" at ConsumerAffairs.com also brings up thousands of complaints about the company.
Those interested in filing a complaint with the FCC, can do so at
consumercomplaints.fcc.gov/hc/en-us. (If you are able to access the internet, of course.)