Updated 11:22 AM EST, Sat, Nov 27, 2021

Apple Sued By Florida Couple for $5 Million Over Wi-Fi Assist’s Increased Data Charges

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A couple from Florida filed a lawsuit against Apple over the tech giant's Wi-Fi assist feature in their devices.

William and Suzanne Phillips are suing Apple for $5 million, according to the suit filed on Friday in U.S. District Court in San Jose, Apple Insider reported. The couple, who is seeking class-action certification, claimed that the Wi-Fi assist feature in iOS 9 is misleading consumers and requires them to pay higher bills.

The lawsuit accuses Apple of "deceptive business practices, false advertising, and misrepresentation," adding that the company doesn't fully explain how the Wi-Fi assist feature works, Apple Insider further reported. If the wireless connection is weak or unreliable, the mobile device will automatically switch to using cellular data, ending up in "blown data caps," the news outlet added.

The complaint accuses Apple of violating California's Unfair Competition Law, the state's False Advertising Law, and of negligent misrepresentation, Apple Insider listed.

"[This action] still downplays the possible data overcharges a user could incur," the suit indicated, as quoted by Apple Insider. "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, the lawyer representing the Phillips couple, said that the two are demanding compensation for themselves and for those who got 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, as reported by Apple Insider. "Which resulted in numerous people who are extremely surprised and very frustrated by the size of their bill."

Apple declined to comment on the lawsuit.

The complaint also stressed that Apple did not provide a thorough explanation about Wi-Fi Assist on their website until numerous articles surfaced about unintended cellular data usage, Apple Insider wrote.

On Oct. 2, Apple issued a statement explaining how the feature functions and how to disable it. The company said that the feature is on by default, but it can be turned off by going to Settings > Cellular, and then scrolling down and de-selecting Wi-Fi Assist. The statement was last modified on Oct. 13, but plaintiffs thought the move is too late.

Wi-Fi Assist can be used with majority of Apple apps, such as Safari, Apple Music, Mail, and Maps, among others, their website listed. When the feature is activated, the cellular data icon appears in the status bar on the device. Apple also noted that Wi-Fi Assist only activates when apps are running in the foreground, not with background downloading of content.

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