By popular demand, MacTech provides a primer on taking AT&T to small claims court provided by attorney Bradley Sniderman. Recently a plaintiff in Los Angeles CA won a $850 settlement and per AT&T’s EULA, class action lawsuits are not possible so this might be your only means of exacting revenge on your limited unlimited plans. Excerpted:
1) Where to file — most lawsuits, even those from small claims, need to be filed in the jurisdiction where the defendant can be found. In this case (and let’s use AT&T), AT&T may have corporate offices in only a few locations, but since they are a nationwide phone company, they are usually subject to jurisdiction anywhere. What this means is that you can file your small claims suit in the courthouse most convenient to you.
2) Make sure you have a copy of your contract, and please review the entire agreement. It may be a slow read, but you need to know the terms of it. You may be able to use these terms to show that AT&T does not have the right to slow your data speed.
3) You need to be able to show that you have an unlimited data plan, which means you are entitled to unlimited data. You need to also show proof that AT&T had limited your data streaming. You next have to argue that AT&T has no right to charge you a fee for unlimited data, and then not supply it. It is not your fault that AT&T can’t keep up with demand for data. If you can even show that you are using less data that some of the fixed rate plans, such as the 3 gigabyte plans, that is even better (fixed plans using more data than you use, but they are not being throttled back). Make sure you have been paying your bill on time and that you are not late, since that could be used against you.
4) Make sure you have an amount for damages. You need to show how you were damaged by not having data streaming. This could be by showing lost business opportunities or showing how much you have paid for the service you never got.
5) Be polite, and make sure you are prepared. The court will listen to you, but if you don’t know what you are talking about, then your argument gets lost.
Read the whole thing here if you are planning to do this. Perhaps if enough people take AT&T to court, they will raise, and/or perhaps publish, their throttling speeds to something usable.
(Bradley Sniderman is an attorney from Southern California. He practices in intellectual property, business and e-commerce law, as well as will/trust firstname.lastname@example.org)