Nearly 20 million Americans have data service for their iPhones or iPads through AT&T. Unfortunately, because of that, they are likely being charged for data they are not even using. Independent researchers claim that AT&T routinely overstates data usage by 7-14%, and in some cases up to 300% on users iPhone and iPad data plans. That would mean that if an iPhone user downloads a 50KB website, AT&T’s bill would overstate the traffic as 53.5KB (a 7% overcharge) to as much as 150KB (a 300% overcharge).
According to the researchers, they tested this theory with a brand-new iPhone/iPad device by immediately disabling all applications, email, and other push notification and location data services. For 10 days, all configurations that could possibly trigger data to be transmitted or received remained disabled. Nevertheless, AT&T reportedly logged 2,292KB of data usage—35 transactions that never happened or were never initiated by the user.
This is deeply troubling. Many users subscribe to unlimited data plans in belief that they are using large amounts of data that would justify paying the correspondingly higher fees, though in reality, they are not. By over-reporting data usage, AT&T is likely ensuring that its customers will be paying higher rates for data plans they don’t actually need.
If you have an unlimited data plan through AT&T, you may have been subjected to these same practices. If you would like to do something about it, submit a complaint to Scambook, AT&T, your state’s attorney general, the Better Business Bureau, and/or the Federal Trade Commission.