By Jim Donovan
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Many of us know that data overages can lead to big phone bills. But when one family got a bill for over $2-thousand dollars, they obviously were shocked. As 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan explains, it could easily happen to others too because of a feature on some iPhones that many people aren’t aware of.
Like many teens, Ashton Finegold didn’t think much about the text message from AT&T warning he was nearing his data limit. He says he’s seen it before. According to Ashton, “it just said, maybe 65 percent of your data has been used.”
Shortly thereafter, the phone bill arrived in the mail. Ashton says, “I thought my dad was going to kill me.” Jeff Finegold is Ashton’s father. He says, “It’s usually $250 a month – and this was two thousand dollars.”
What caused the spike? Well the family attributes it to a new feature on Ashton’s Apple iPhone called Wi-Fi Assist. The feature is now standard with the iOS 9 operating system. Jeff says, “I had no idea what that was.”
Wi-Fi Assist is intended to make sure that you always have a good signal by automatically switching to cellular data when a Wi-Fi signal is weak. Like in Ashton’s bedroom where he thought he was still connected to Wi-Fi while streaming and surfing. But instead, his phone has been gobbling up data; more than 144-thousand megs!
To turn off Wi-Fi assist go to your settings, then to cellular, scroll down to bottom and that’s where you can switch the off the feature.
Many people aren’t aware of Wi-Fi Assist because if your phone came with the iOS 9 operating system or if you upgrade to it, the feature is automatically switched on by default. In fact a law suit was filed recently claiming that Apple failed to properly warn users that the Wi-Fi assist feature would use data from their cellular plan. So this is something to definitely be aware of.