Apple sued over Wi-Fi assist bill shocks

poison-appleFruity cargo cult Apple has been dragged to court for failing to warn its users that its new Wi-Fi assist feature would end up gouging their phone bill.

In the complaint, which aims to be a class action, plaintiffs William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips allege that because of costs related to Wi-Fi Assist, the “overall amount in controversy exceeds” $5 million.

Once users update to iOS 9, Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default. Apple believed that it ensures a smooth Internet experience by switching to mobile data in the event that the user is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal.

The problem is that it switches over to mobile data when there is enough decent wi-fi available, often when users are in their own homes.

The complaint claims Apple did not properly explain Wi-Fi Assist on its website until only after a “flood of articles” were written about unintended mobile data use. For the plaintiffs, that addition to the website was too little, too late.

“Defendant’s above corrective action, however, still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur,” the suit reads. “Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos, and running various applications — all of which can use significant data. Defendant’s corrective statement does not disclose any basis for its conclusion that an average consumer would not see much increase in cellular usage.”

The suit states that the plaintiffs incurred overuse charges on both of their iPhone 5s units after upgrading to iOS 9. It did not say exactly how much those charges were, but asserts that the plaintiffs and the class were misled about mobile data usage on their devices.

Apple is accused of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law, the state’s False Advertising Law, and of negligent misrepresentation.

The Tame Apple Press is furious of course. Apparently all you have to turn off the wi-fi assist is open the Settings app and choose Cellular, then scroll to the bottom to find the off toggle button. The option is missing on some older Apple devices, including the iPhone 4S, the iPad 2, and the first-generation iPad mini.

Of course you have to know that to turn it off and also many Apple fanboys will never turn off any functionality believing that Apple knows what is good for them.