AT&T’s Customer Who Won’t Shut Up

Matthew Spaccarelli is a royal pain in AT&T’s butt.

First, the California resident won a $850 judgment in small claims court against the nation’s second-largest mobile-phone company because a judge found that AT&T broke its promise to offer unlimited data service.

Now, Spaccarelli reportedly is refusing to keep his mouth shut and doesn’t care if AT&T cuts off his service in spite of the carrier’s plea to engage in confidential settlement talks. AT&T has some leverage over its feisty customer because Spaccarelli has admitted to “tethering” by using his phone to provide Internet access to other devices in violation of AT&T’s agreement, according to national media reports.

I just feel like they are trying to strong-arm me into shutting up,” Spaccarelli told Bloomberg.

AT&T is appealing the small-claims court decision in a move that likely has nothing to do with a modest $850 judgment against a company with $126.7 billion in annual revenues.

If AT&T loses in an appeal, other customers could move to sue the company in small-claims court proceedings across the U.S. for slowing its data speeds on their unlimited plans, causing expense and a potential PR nightmare.

Spaccarelli already has posted online documents he used to argue his case, and he’s encouraging others to copy his lawsuit, according to The Associated Press, which obtained a letter from AT&T to Spaccarelli asking him to be quiet about settlement talks.

Dallas-based AT&T has faced criticism for slowing data speeds for certain customers who subscribe to its unlimited plan.

The slower data speeds initially applied to customers who were considered to rank among the top 5 percent of AT&T’s heaviest users, although AT&T recently clarified its “throttling” policies.

AT&T no longer offers the unlimited plan to new subscribers but it continues to honor a plan that the AP said 17 million customers still subscribe to. AT&T hasn’t confirmed the number of customers who still subscribe to the unlimited plan.

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