Man Sues AT&T For Throttling His iPhone Service — And Wins!

This could be the start of something interesting. An AT&T customer in California was less than thrilled by the Death Star’s decision to throttle his iPhone service even though he was on an unlimited data plan. So he went down to small claims court and came out victorious.

Much like many Consumerist readers who received warning texts from AT&T, the plaintiff says his data speed started slowing down when he used somewhere between 1.5-2GB in a month, which isn’t exactly “unlimited” in many people’s eyes.

The judge in the case sided with the customer, saying it was unfair for AT&T to sell something as unlimited and then deliberately slow down that data because he is using his phone at a lower level than the similarly priced 3GB/month plan.

For his troubles, the plaintiff was awarded $850.

Since lawyers are not allowed in California small claims courts, AT&T was represented by its area sales manager. The company’s case is that the top 5% of data users pull so much data that they adversely effect the network.

“I need the money, but for me, this case is not about money at all,” the plaintiff told the Associated Press. “You don’t tell somebody ‘you have unlimited’ and then cut them off.”

This could be a situation where AT&T’s fight to block class-action lawsuits by forcing mandatory binding arbitration could bite the company in the rear-end, as angry AT&T customers plunk each plunk down the few bucks to plead their case in small claims court.

May the force be with them all!

Judge awards iPhone user $850 in throttling case [AP]