T-Mobile Sued For Offering Limited Unlimited Service – User files suit over 10 GB limit buried in fine print

Ten Gigs is a lot of data … but there’s still a big difference between “ten gigs” and “infinity” …

For years wireless carriers have had played fast and loose with the word “unlimited,” advertising their services as such but then quietly imposing caps (usually 5 GB) or other restrictions. While Verizon Wireless had their wrist slapped back in 2007 for the practice by New York’s Attorney General, that still didn’t stop many carriers from continuing the practice. Now T-Mobile is being sued in California for inaccurately advertising their limited (10 GB) data services for smartphones as unlimited. Complains the suit:

The only warning given to consumers, according to the suit, is a statement “on the very last page of a T-Mobile brochure, buried in minuscule type barely readable, that ‘Your data session may be slowed, suspended, terminated, or restricted if you use your service in a way that interferes with or impacts our network or ability to provide quality service to other users …”

Parts of the suit are melodramatic for effect, lawyers arguing that the surprise limit makes smartphones “essentially useless for anything other than making or receiving phone calls and text messages.” T-Mobile’s current 10 GB cap is rather generous, and last we checked, unlike some other carriers, T-Mobile only throttles users who cross it — they don’t impose unreasonable overages or boot users from the network.

All of that said, the solution for carriers who don’t want suits, user complaints or AG investigations seems pretty simple: stop using the word unlimited, and make your service restrictions clear. False advertising is false advertising, and wireless carriers have been trying to have their cake and eat it too on this front for years. The definition of unlimited is clear, and burying limits for your “unlimited” data plans in fine print on page 50 of your terms of service doesn’t change that fact.
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