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Florida Couple Files $5 Million Suit Against Apple Over 'Wi-Fi Assist'

The new feature of iOS 9 automatically switches phones to the mobile networks if Wi-Fi is weak or unreliable.

The Verge

A Florida couple is suing Apple for $5 million, claiming the company is misleading consumers about the data charges they’ll incur through the new Wi-Fi Assist feature that’s part of the latest mobile operating system.

William and Suzanne Phillips filed suit Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, accusing Apple of deceptive business practices, false advertising and misrepresentation. The couple is seeking class-action certification, saying other consumers have been harmed by this feature of iOS 9.

The suit alleges Apple doesn’t fully spell out how the Wi-Fi Assist works, that if the wireless connection is weak or unreliable, the phone will automatically switch to using cellular data. Some consumers have complained that this has resulted in blown data caps — and higher bills — as a result.

Apple issued a statement on Oct. 2, explaining how the feature works and showing how to disable it.

“[This action] still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur,” the suit contends. “Reasonable and average consumers use their iPhones for streaming of music, videos and running various applications — all of which can use significant data.”

William Anderson, an attorney representing the Phillips family said the couple is seeking compensation for themselves and others who got socked with big data charges.

“It boils down to a decision by Apple to provide a product update without adequate warning about the result of that update,” Anderson said. “Which resulted in numerous people who are extremely surprised and very frustrated by the size of their bill.”

Apple declined comment.

The $5 million damages claim is the minimum threshold for filing such a suit in federal court.

Update: Story has been updated to include a comment from the Phillips’ attorney.

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