Apple could face a $5 million class action lawsuit over the new Wi-Fi Assist feature, which switches iPhones to cellular data when the Wi-Fi signal is weak. When iPhone users download the iOs 9 software update, which launched in mid-September, Wi-Fi Assist is turned on by default. This feature is meant to ensure a smooth internet experience, automatically switching to data when the phone is connected to a weak Wi-Fi signal. However, many users have complained that the Wi-Fi Assist was switched on without proper warning, causing people to run up high bills for phones with limited data plans.
Now a Florida couple, William Scott Phillips and Suzanne Schmidt Phillips, is taking legal action to get Apple to pay for data overage charges. The couple seeks class action status for the suit, claiming that the overuse charges top $5 million for everyone affected. According to the complaint, “Apple failed to full disclose that if Wi-Fi Assist is left activated it will allow the phone to automatically switch to using cellular data.” The lawsuit accuses Apple of violating California’s Unfair Competition Law and its False Advertising Law, as well as of negligent misrepresentation. It continues, “Defendant intentionally chose to have the default setting of the Wi-Fi Assist as activated while at the same time chose to omit the likelihood of data overcharges to consumers that do not have an unlimited data plan.”
Apple recently published a guide to Wi-Fi Assist, which explains that, “because you’ll stay connected to the Internet over cellular when you have a poor Wi-Fi connection, you might use more cellular data. For most users, this should only be a small percentage higher than previous usage.”