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iPhone 3G owner sues Apple, AT&T over dropped calls, app crashes

N.J. man claims companies defrauded consumers, wants class-action status

September 5, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Computerworld - A New Jersey man has sued Apple Inc. over charges that its iPhone 3G drops calls and doesn't consistently connect to AT&T Inc.'s data network -- the second such federal lawsuit filed in the past two weeks.

Eulardi Tanseco, who submitted his lawsuit to U.S. District Court in New Jersey last Friday, accused both Apple and AT&T of breaking that state's consumer antifraud law, as well as violating other warranty, breach-of-contract and fraud statutes. Like the lawsuit filed Aug. 19 against Apple by Jessica Smith of Birmingham, Ala., Tanseco's suit asked the court to grant the case class-action status.

"Apple has wrongfully and unfairly deceived its customers by advertising and selling the alleged newer and improved iPhone 3G with the express and implied promise that this consumer product was a reliable and efficient mobile phone," the lawsuit said.

Tanseco, who said he bought an iPhone 3G the first day it went on sale, was unhappy with the phone's performance. "Almost immediately after purchasing the iPhone 3G, Plaintiff became aware of problems connecting and/or maintaining a connection via the 3G protocol with his new iPhone 3G," the suit continued.

Most of the time, Tanseco said, his iPhone 3G would connect only to AT&T's older, and slower, EDGE data network. And during the few instances when he initially had a 3G connection, the iPhone would often shift to EDGE. "Even when Plaintiff was able to connect via the 3G protocol, on many occasions, even while remaining comparatively still in the same physical location, Plaintiff's data transmission was dropped from the 3G protocol to the much slower EDGE protocol," the filing stated.

According to the lawsuit, AT&T was included as a defendant because it "failed to advise its customers that the iPhone 3G was not capable of connecting and/or maintaining a connection with AT&T's 3G network to complete data transmission."

Tanseco also accused Apple of duping customers with the App Store, the company's online mart for third-party applications that users can install on their phones. The apps, said Tanseco, "consistently crash."

Prior to Tanseco and Smith suing Apple, iPhone 3G owners had flooded Apple's support forums with complaints about their phones and AT&T's 3G network. The gripes included difficulty making calls from areas supposedly covered by a 3G network, weak signals, dropped calls and slower-than-promised data download speeds.

Tanseco made mention of the last in his lawsuit, echoing similar charges by Smith. "Apple specifically represented and continues to represent that the iPhone 3G is 'Twice as fast. Half the price' as its predecessor, the iPhone," said the lawsuit.

Although Apple has released two software updates since the July 11 launch of the iPhone 3G, including one on Aug. 18 that the company claimed improved 3G communication, Tanseco's suit dismissed both updates for not correcting the problems he cited.

The newest lawsuit seeks both compensatory and punitive damages, as well as an injunction that would force Apple to stop selling the iPhone unless it fixes the flaws or modifies its advertising.

Apple must respond to the lawsuit by the end of September, according to other documents filed with the federal court.

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