updated 03:00 am EDT, Thu October 31, 2013
Settlement calls for $40 payment from Apple, discounted service from AT&T
Claim forms have gone out to participants and affected customers as part of a settlement in a customer lawsuit against AT&T and Apple, accusing the former of reneging on a promise that "unlimited" data customers could use their existing plans on a 3G-capable iPad, while the latter supported the later-revoked claim through advertising and endorsement. Claimants could receive a $40 one-time payment from Apple along with discounted AT&T service.
US consumers who bought a first-generation iPad with 3G and paid the extra $130 cost for the 3G capability in the expectation that they could use their existing "unlimited" data plans with the device are eligible to make a claim for the dual reward. While Apple had no role in how AT&T managed and then later revoked the promotion, it bears some responsibility by endorsing and promoting AT&T's unlimited plan even when the company knew the deal would be undone.
Claimants would receive a $40 check from Apple and an ongoing $20 discount on the current AT&T data plan of the customers' choosing. The settlement comes as a result of four separate lawsuits over the deception that were consolidated by the judge into one class-action suit. It affects all buyers of 3G-capable original iPads prior to AT&Ts termination of the "unlimited" plan, which happened in June of 2010.
Judge Ronald Whyte approved the settlement from both Apple and AT&T in September. The deal is the result of years of negotiations between Apple, AT&T and the plaintiffs. Although the $40 Apple portion of the settlement could conceivably add up to hundreds of millions for Apple, historically only a small percentage of class-action claimants ever come forward.
AT&T's $20 discount will bring the cost of a premium data plan for claimants down to the cost of a basic plan, and includes any advancement in wireless technology such as forthcoming "5G" data systems, suggesting the discount may be active for users for years to come. Should millions of plaintiffs take advantage of the offer, both companies could see very substantive charges related to the matter.