Maryville woman has issues with ‘unlimited’ data plan

MARYVILLE (WATE) – Roughly 90 percent of Americans own a cell phone and it’s no longer just an extra device. A new government survey shows slightly more than 40 percent of Americans have ditched their landline and only use their cell phones. A Maryville cell phone user signed up for a new plan, but didn’t get what she paid for.

April Madura believed she had an unlimited data plan. The term can be tricky because the meaning varies from company to company. Basically it means you can use as much data as you can, but the amount you pay remains the same. These days, most unlimited plans come with a catch and it has to do with speed limits. Sometimes you have to read the fine print to discover the information.

Madura has no landline and is tied to her mobile phone. She streams Netflix and other videos regularly and uses a lot of data every month with her pre-paid Boost Mobile phone plan. Last month she switched to a new $50 unlimited talk, text, and high speed data plan.

“I went from a $40 a month plan with about 2.5GB of high speed data to a $50 a month unlimited, unhooked data plan,” she said.

On December 2, a text confirmed Madura was signed up for new unlimited service. She upgraded saying the old plan didn’t provide enough data and would slow down. However, less than two weeks, later she received a disturbing text from Boost Mobile.

“On the 15th they sent me a message stating, ‘You are at 75 percent threshold for data prioritization. At 100 percent you will be prioritized lower at congested times,'” she read. “You get so much high speed. It will stream just fine. Once that runs out, it kicks down to a much lower speed.”

Wanting to see that in print, she went to the About Us page on Boost Mobile’s website, but couldn’t find much information. She went to the Boost Mobile store in Maryville where she was given a flyer which says customers who use more than
23GB of data during a billing cycle will be de-prioritized during congestion. Data prioritization means that the carrier may temporarily slow speeds down during times that their network is experiencing a high traffic volume, but only applies once a certain amount of data has been consumed in a month.

Madura had to do a lot of scrolling on Boost Mobile’s website and eventually found the information that the company referred to in that December 15 text. In tiny print was a warning that speed can be throttled.

“Boost Mobile told me that it is in their fine print that it is my responsibility to know that information,” she said.

In a response to an inquiry from WATE 6 On Your Side, Boost Mobile says quality of service or network prioritization is to protect against a minority of unlimited users that use high volumes of data to unreasonably occupy network resources during times when the network is constrained. Madura says Boost Mobile compensated her $50 and gave her a free month of service.

She’s still not happy about the plan.

“If there is a limit, that is limited. If there is no limit, then that is unlimited. Unfortunately this is going to happen to other people. Read the fine print,” she said.

Service providers are allowed to throttle your network speeds after you’ve reached a certain threshold. They can do that if the provider properly notifies you that plans are only unlimited up to a certain amount of data and that they will be gin to slow network speeds. Boost Mobile provides that information in their fine print.

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