Now, according to the Consumerist, one California family has proof of just how bad those overage fees can be.
The new feature
The feature, called “Wi-Fi Assist,” automatically switches the device from a Wi-Fi network to a cell network if it detects a weak Wi-Fi signal. Depending on your location, this feature could be activated more often than users realize.
When the family got their monthly phone bill from AT&T, it was a shocking total of $2,000 — 10 times their typical monthly bill. The family told CBS5’s ConsumerWatch that the son got a text from AT&T, warning him that he was nearing his monthly limit on his data plan, but he said that wasn’t anything new.
What caused the big bill
Apparently the text told him he’d reached 65% of his monthly data allotment. He says what he didn’t realize was that every time he used his phone in his room, the Wi-Fi assist feature kicked in, because the home Wi-Fi signal isn’t so great in that part of the house. So instead of being connected to the home Internet, his phone was using his data plan — resulting in a lot more data usage — which means overage fees.
When many iPhone users updated to the new iOS9 software, they had no idea about this feature — including the fact that it was turned on by default — and so they had no idea they needed to disable it.
The good news for this family is that after being contacted by CBS5, AT&T said it should have sent the text alert to the primary account holder (the mom in this case), so the company credited the family’s account for the full amount.
But if you run into the same problem, you might not get so lucky.
So if you have a limited data plan and you’re worried about overage charges, here’s how to disable the feature.