iPhones are expensive, and angry consumers are singing “BBHMM” all the way to court. A lawsuit filed against the company on Friday alleges Apple failed to properly warn customers about an iOS 9 feature that drives monthly phone bills way higher.
The lawsuit, filed by plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Susan Schmidt Phillips and first uncovered by Apple Insider, indicates that Wi-Fi Assist sopped data from the cellular plans of numerous iPhone users without their knowledge and exceeds $5 million.
As it stands, the default setting “may result in exceeding the data capacity allowed under their phone plans,” the Phillips’ lawyers write in the lawsuit. “This is especially true as there is no warning or disclosure when the phone switches from Wi-Fi to cellular data.”
Many iPhone users chose to keep the WiFi Assist feature activated with little to no knowledge of how it worked, the lawsuit explains. It wasn’t until a “flood of articles, comments, and complaints online” that Apple finally issued a statement regarding the problem—including a brief explainer as to how to deactivate Wi-Fi Assist—noting that it should only result in a minor increase in charges.
Despite Apple’s Oct. 2 efforts to nip the matter in the bud, the plaintiffs assert that their statement did little to make up for the $5 million dollar problem.
“[Apple’s] corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur,” they wrote. The company failed to “disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”
The lawsuit included a number of tweets refuting Apple’s “small percentage” claim.
The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating the Unfair Competition Law, which includes “any unlawful, unfair or fraudulent business act or practice and unfair, deceptive, untrue or misleading advertising.” They are also in violation of the California False Advertising Law and face charges of negligent misrepresentation, according to the filed lawsuit.
If you upgraded to iOS 9 and, like myself, this is your first time learning about the overcharge risk caused by the Wi-Fi Assist feature, deactivation is simple. Go to Setting > Cellular, and finally scroll down and toggle Wi-Fi Assist to the "off" (not green) position.