Wi-Fi Assist leads to $2000 phone bill for teenage Apple iPhone user

Wi-Fi Assist leads to $2000 phone bill for teenage Apple iPhone user
Wi-Fi Assist is a feature on iOS 9 that automatically switches an iPhone user from a Wi-Fi hook up to a cellular connection if the Wi-Fi signal becomes unusable. Because it is enabled by default, many iPhone users have unknowingly used all their monthly data and have been hit with overage charges because of Wi-Fi Assist. That's why Apple has been socked with a pair of class-action suits related to the feature. Both are seeking more than $5 million in damages.

Despite the publicity generated by the suits, it seems not all iPhone users have learned about Wi-Fi Assist. Take Ashton Finegold. The teenager received a text saying that he was nearing his monthly data cap, but since he was using Wi-Fi in his room, he figured he was okay. But the teen was stunned when his share of the family's phone bill came in at a massive $2,021.07. Usually the family's monthly bill was around $250, and Ashton assumed that he was going to hear the Riot Act from his Dad.

As it turned out, the huge bill wasn't totally Ashton's fault. It seems that the teen's bedroom suffers from a weak Wi-Fi signal. All the time that he thought he was connected to a Wi-Fi signal, the teenager's iPhone was using Wi-Fi Assist to connect to his carrier's cellular network. If Wi-Fi Assist is ruining your life, it can be turned off. Go to Settings > Cellular, scroll down to the bottom and toggle Wi-Fi Assist to "Off."

The Finegold's huge bill was the result of Ashton using 144GB of data during the month. There is no word on whether the carrier used by the family agreed to remove some or all of the overage charges.

source: CBSNews via BGR

FEATURED VIDEO

99 Comments

1. bistech

Posts: 59; Member since: Jul 23, 2015

LoL. Dont blame apple for being stupid. Its your fault not apple. Apple is the best

17. combatmedic870

Posts: 984; Member since: Sep 02, 2015

OMG....

20. killer7D

Posts: 550; Member since: Sep 18, 2014

Its their fault you are right .. the chose Apple !

58. neela_akaash

Posts: 1239; Member since: Aug 05, 2014

This is clearly because of their carelessness.... No OEM is responsible for this...

75. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Really?

74. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

How about we blame Apple for not explaining how the feature worked, why it wa son by defualt when it should have been. How about that? I agree you can't blame Apple for people being stupid, when it is actually the personas fault. But since Apple didnt explain the feature properly and it wasenabled by default, this one is on Apple. I dont blame you for being to stupid to see this, I blame you parents.

82. NexusKoolaid

Posts: 493; Member since: Oct 24, 2011

Dude, Relax. it's called sarcasm. Even I saw it.

81. Daftama

Posts: 641; Member since: Nov 03, 2012

Wifi assist should not be auto on

97. engineer-1701d unregistered

they is still tens of millions of apple users out there that dont know what wifi assist is.

96. janis

Posts: 397; Member since: Mar 10, 2014

this shows how smart are apple users perfectly.

2. Feanor

Posts: 1346; Member since: Jun 20, 2012

Normally switching to expensive data plans triggers warning messages on my Android phone. I suspect that, if WiFi assist is enabled by default, then there is no message to warn unsuspecting users with average or poor knowledge of their phone. Bad Apple! My iPhone hasn't received the iOS 9 update, I'm curious to see, if this is true. I think Apple should get a serious beating for this. It's a feature that should evoke a warning like data roaming usually does.

3. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Personally I'm wondering also if the icon for wifi connection remains on when it switches with assist? if there is absolutely no indicators then yeah, that's is a gigantic flaw in apple's design.

41. bur60

Posts: 981; Member since: Jul 07, 2014

I have 4 friends who paid over 150 euro because of it. The problem is that while watching a movie, it can force 4g in the background so you won't notice it.

44. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

Apple should face a huge fine for that.

55. jaytai0106

Posts: 1888; Member since: Mar 30, 2011

Honestly, they should just remove that feature altogether. I am still not very clear what's good about that feature. I turn off wifi when I have weak connection so my phone would jump on the cell connection. This way, I always know what connection I am on. However, I use my computer more than my phone simply because I can do a lot of stuff on it.

57. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

Yeah, they should improve the feature, but they pay up for their cosumer's losses in huge bills.

4. BobLawblaw unregistered

Is there no symbol on an iPhone screen to let users know that they're using either WiFi or mobile network?

5. AlikMalix unregistered

There is an indicator and it does change even on wifi assist.

77. Brewski

Posts: 672; Member since: Jun 05, 2012

I only get 2 gbs on my iPad so as soon as I get home the first thing I do is turn airplane mode on and then turn wifi on so it forces all data to go through wifi. I've had this iPad for two years and I check to make sure the wifi symbol is active rather than the cellular one. I've never gone over my data because I don't want this very thing to happen.

6. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

LMFAO xD That's what you get for your negligence on iDevices; the OS is the scamware, changing settings behind your back to get you separated from your cash like a fool. But hey, you get to show how rich and cool you are for owning an iDevice :)

16. AlikMalix unregistered

Dude think logically.. How does it benefit Apple for making you pay your carrier for data? It was a big mistake that Apple made. I doesn't affect me since I'm unlimited - but that should have been opt-in feature. Where are all the lawsuits regarding android launching apps in background that used Internet data without your permission? https://www.bing.com/search?q=android+apps+launching+by+themselves+in&form=APIPH1 Forgot about that eh? Now that's a scam since sometimes you had to root your device or purchase apps that doable that crap. See? Anyone can bs this crap around.

25. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

"How does it benefit Apple for making you pay your carrier for data?" You do realize Apple has partnerships with carriers right? What stops them from taking a cut like they currently do with other partnerships with devs, accessory manufacturers, and book authors? "Where are all the lawsuits regarding android launching apps in background that used Internet data without your permission?" Those were user installed apps, and you get a warnings up front from the play-store when installing an app regarding the permissions it has access to. Did iOS 9 show you a warning about Wi-Fi Assist being enabled? That's the difference here, lack of transparency. That said, there are many situations I wouldn't agree with the permissions apps demand, Privacy Guard that came on my OnePlus One gives me control over all of that, including auto-startups, wake locks, etc. Does iOS have a permission for that? Didn't think so either...

34. AlikMalix unregistered

Your rationalize like a 12 year old... I just said apple made a mistake by making this feature an opt-out instead of opt-in... but you keep pointing your biased finger, when android was guilty of similar crap on a much bigger scale... I had my S4 die from 20% battery to 0% doing nothing overnight.. apps were doing crap on their own including using data - so what you're saying now? At least when you update iOS - it shows a full log of what's added or changed - on Android you had no control of what's happening on your phone without your consent... Either way - this is probably going to be changed to an opt-in feature with next update (weeks or days from now) android still has this problem from 2009...

46. NoToFanboys

Posts: 3231; Member since: Oct 03, 2015

Ypu two can stop now, as you two are both biased, and will never reach a proper agreement

50. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

"I just said apple made a mistake by making this feature an opt-out instead of opt-in" Yeah and you asked the shortsighted question of how apple benefits, and I pointed out their past actions, what's hard for that grey matter of yours (if you have any) to understand? "but you keep pointing your biased finger, when android was guilty of similar crap on a much bigger scale" Look who's talking about bias. Desperately trying to defend apple's mistake by equating apple's intransparency to a transparent user-initiated problems...irony at it's finest. "I had my S4 die from 20% battery to 0% doing nothing overnight.. apps were doing crap on their own including using data - so what you're saying now?" Did you read the warning label of the app during installation? 'Cause if it was gonna use data, it'll state it's using full network access. If it can drain battery in the background, it'll have permissions like "prevent phone from sleeping", or "run at start-up", etc. You choosing to remain ignoramus about what's displayed in front of you ain't the same as not being aware something was enabled behind your back. "At least when you update iOS - it shows a full log of what's added or changed - on Android you had no control of what's happening on your phone without your consent..." LMAO xD This naive dude clearly has never seen the Settings > About phone > System updates screen of any android SmartPhone. Here's a recent example for you newbie: https://forums.oneplus.net/attachments/cyanogenmod-12-1-yog7das2k1-before-jpg.410598/ "Either way - this is probably going to be changed to an opt-in feature with next update (weeks or days from now) android still has this problem from 2009..." Actually, the problem of user ignorance has existed for centuries and still exists on every platform, especially iOS.

59. Hexa-core

Posts: 2131; Member since: Aug 11, 2015

iPhans never can admit the fault of their iCompany. Just leave them alone with their world.

78. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

Did you read the warning label of the app during installation? 'Cause if it was gonna use data, it'll state it's using full network access. If it can drain battery in the background, it'll have permissions like "prevent phone from sleeping", or "run at start-up", etc. You choosing to remain ignoramus about what's displayed in front of you ain't the same as not being aware something was enabled behind your back." As you stated, when you install an app on Android, you get a popup which shows what the app will access. FULL TRANSPARENCY. If you fail to read it, that is not the devs or OEM's fault...ITS YOURS. You install Apple apps on faith. What is funny many ISO users dont believe in faith, they believe in fate. The stupid think about fate means you have no control. Everything happens because it is suppose too. The issue here is simple. Apple has the feature, they did not explain the feature to its users and it was on by default. Even though I have use WiFi's that arent perfect, they still worked. Letting a phone decide what best over your own brains is stupid. It just sounds like AlikMalix rather klet someone else think for him vs think for oneself. God gave you a brain use it. Don't live on blind faith. The problem with fans is you trust Apple with your lives. I trust no one with my life but me. If "I" make a stupid decision and ruin it, that's totally on me. if you allow someone else to ruin your life, then that's on you. This is why I love Windows and Android, they have basically full transparency. If Samsung had did this to their customers, you fools would have been on it like flys on booboo. But when its Apple its ok because Apple knows best. If my phone bill ever came in and its $2000, I'm taking Apple to court and they will pay my bill. Not doing do would be detrimental to Apple health. because I am getting right in my car and driving right through Apple's front door with it.

64. ShaikhJGI

Posts: 359; Member since: Jan 10, 2014

May be Carriers are happy with this thing and they will provide more subsidies to iDevices to cashin in future when these kind of scams happen. Also they will push(Adv & try to sell idevices more than othr companies) iDevices down the throat of Customers. This is how Apple will get benifitted. No matter what, they are only concerned with Year on Year Increase in Profits, that's it nothing matters to them whatsoever.

7. TyrionLannister unregistered

There is a similar option on most android phones. I remember my S4 having it. Let me tell you my take on it. Firstly, you need to have your mobile data on. And even an average brained person will switch off mobile data when he gets in the WiFi range. Secondly, if a phone will switch from a WiFi to an LTE connection, the WiFi icon on notification bar goes off and the LTE/4G signal appears. So you know that your cellular data is getting consumed. So, to use that much of mobile data and not even knowing, you need to be absolutely stupid and careless. Apple has nothing to do with it. Many android phones have it automatically enabled and no one is complaining( it's called smart switch in Samsung phones, similar names in others). The only takeaway I can take from this news is that Apple has a lot of dumb users.

11. MrElectrifyer

Posts: 3960; Member since: Oct 21, 2014

Firstly, nope, the average brained person didn't have to worry about this prior to iOS 9, it automatically switched. They're used to that... Secondly, again the average brained person are used to not worrying about that prior to iOS 9. I don't recall seeing it on my friend's S6 Edge, I searched settings and quick toggles for "Smart" and saw Smart Stay, Smart Pause, etc, but no Smart Swtich...you sure it still exists?

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

Latest Stories

This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. You can order presentation-ready copies for distribution to your colleagues, clients or customers at https://www.parsintl.com/phonearena or use the Reprints & Permissions tool that appears at the bottom of each web page. Visit https://www.parsintl.com/ for samples and additional information.