A couple of hours ago we heard the news that the FTC has slapped TracFone Wireless with a massive $40 million fine. For those that missed the earlier news, the fine was in response to an issue many people have with their carriers. ‘Unlimited data’. As many people already know (and have found out from personal experience), when you are offered anything unlimited from your carrier (albeit text, talk or data), it more often than not, is anything but unlimited. In fact, there is nearly always some form of limitation put in place. The limitation might be actually a limitation on the GB of data or just as importantly, a limitation on the speed at which that data is delivered.
This last point seemed to be the issue with TracFone, as the FTC ruling notes the prepaid carrier was liable for slowing down customers data speeds. It seemed this was on an escalating scale which made it worse, so the more you were using (in some cases) the slower the speed became. With some users almost being effectively cut-off completely. Today, this sort of action was deemed by the FTC to be highly unacceptable and hence why the fine occurred. Although, there is no issue with carriers slowing speeds or data, depending on their distribution needs. There is an issue when those same carriers are charging those capped (or ‘throttled’) customers for a plan which states, says or even suggests that they have ‘unlimited’ data. The FTC was very clear on this last point, stating ‘unlimited,’ that means unlimited”.
It has to also be pointed out, that some customers might not have actually known that they were on one of those plans, as Tracfone seemed to have a habit of offering multiple different plans under different names, but offering the same ‘unlimited’ theme. So, if you were a customer under either a ‘STRAIGHT TALK’, ‘NET10 WIRELESS’, ‘SIMPLE MOBILE’ or ‘TELCEL AMERICA’ plan, then you might be eligible for a share of that $40 million by way of a refund. If you were on any of these plans then you should CLICK HERE to head over to the refund page. Simply fill out the short form and you will receive an answer in due course. What this means for the other carriers who think they can get away with capping, what is supposed to be an ‘unlimited’ plan, well, it looks like the FTC is now watching.