Just last week on the 23rd of October, a class action lawsuit was filed in a California federal court against the Apple computer corporation. In the case entitled, Phillips v. Apple Inc., the plaintiffs claim that Apple failed to do its due diligence in advising their customers that the i0S9 contains a feature by default which is called “Wi-Fi Assist,” and that this feature will automatically and without warning cause the devices to switch over to consuming mobile data.
The feature is billeted as a connectivity protection feature as it is meant to prevent service interruptions by seamlessly engaging the switch from Wi-Fi over to mobile data. The problem arises, the plaintiffs say, where Apple chose to willfully neglect to inform i0S9 users that they would be using mobile data, or to offer them a way to disable the feature.
The plaintiffs in the litigation are contending that the i0S9’s default setting, which causes users to consume more cellular data and thereby running up much higher monthly cellular service bills, amounts to an illegal price gouge.
The Apple company claims that the feature is designed to improve the users’ experience with their iPhones by eliminating interruptions. But the plaintiffs say Apple was not forthcoming as they should have been by making the Wi-Fi Assist feature a default and not telling customers about it up front. They claim Apple has violated both California’s Unfair Competition Law as well as its False Advertising Law.
The plaintiffs also claim that the data charges incurred by the automatic feature are excessive. Further, they assert that the unfair charges imposed on Apple’s customers add up to more than $5 million in total damages.
In response to the class action law suit, Apple has since published new instructions to its website that advise customers about the heretofore hidden feature and help them to disable it if they so choose.
The instructions read: “The Wi-Fi Assist feature is activated by default. If you do not want your iOS device to remain connected to the Internet during poor Wi-Fi connection, you have the option to disable the Wi-Fi Assist feature. Navigate to Settings > Cellular. Scroll down and then tap Wi-Fi Assist.”
It remains to be seen if the company will change the default settings in iPhones that have yet to leave the shelf.