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Bryan M. Wolfe
| March 14, 2012
AT&T Tells Customer It Will Shut Off His Service Over Throttling
Weeks after an AT&T customer sued the carrier over data throttling and won, the Dallas, Texas-based company is striking back. While AT&T hopes to settle with Matthew Spaccarelli over the issue, it won’t do so unless the two sides can sit down and talk. If that cannot be arranged, AT&T will terminate service for the Simi Valley, CA resident, according to Reuters. In a story that made headlines just weeks ago, Spaccarelli fought AT&T in small claims court over the company’s policy to slow down “unlimited” data service for those users who go over certain traffic thresholds in a month. Spaccarelli won $850 in the case. After doing so, he posted online the documents he used to argue his case, encouraging others to sue as well. This hasn’t sat well with the second largest carrier in the US, who claims legal settlements usually include non-disclosure agreements. In a letter last Friday to Spaccarelli, AT&T asked him:
“To be quiet about the settlement talks, including the fact that it offered to start them, another common stipulation. Spaccarelli said he was not interested in settling, and forwarded the letter to The Associated Press.”Spaccarelli said he doesn’t care about the money. The important thing to him was defeating AT&T in court. Currently, the two sides appear at an impasse, with Spaccarelli hoping others will drag AT&T into courtrooms across the US and AT&T threatening to cut off its customer altogether. In 2011, AT&T started slowing down data service for “unlimited” customers once they reached the top five percent of data users in their area. In reaction to Spaccarelli’s victory, AT&T said it would stop throttling those five percent. Instead, it will apply the showdown to anyone that uses 3GB of data in a given month. Personally, none of this looks good for AT&T. For one, AT&T has no one to blame for this situation but themselves. They agreed to grandfather its unlimited data plan customers when the company discontinued the service in 2010. Second, threatening a customer is never good in the PR department, especially when there are other opinions available. For example, Spaccarelli could move his service to Verizon Wireless or Sprint and still keep pushing others to sue AT&T. Should Spaccarelli keep pushing AT&T even if it means his cellular service is cut off? What would you do?