Teen Reportedly Receives $2,000 Phone Bill Due To iPhone's Wi-Fi Assist Feature

| by Reve Fisher

After receiving a phone bill for $2,000, a California teenager and his family believe the Apple Wi-Fi Assist feature is to blame.

Ashton Finegold from San Francisco said he was unconcerned when he received a text message warning him that he was approaching his data limit. According to the teenager, the message said that approximately 65 percent of his data had been used, as reported by KYW-TV News.

However, when the phone bill arrived, the teenager and his family were shocked to see the total: a staggering $2,021.07. 

"I thought my dad was going to kill me," Ashton told CBS News.

"It's usually $250 a month -- and this was over $2,000," Jeff Finegold, Ashton’s father, said.

The exceedingly high overcharge was reportedly caused by “Wi-Fi Assist,” a new feature on the iOS 9 operating system. The program automatically switches a user’s phone to cellular data service when in an area with a poor Wi-Fi signal. However, since the feature switches back and forth without any input from the user, it is difficult to determine when the switch occurs. For those who have limited data plans, this program can lead to expensive overage fees if their phones use this feature on a regular basis.  

As Ashton’s bedroom has a poor Wi-Fi signal, his iPhone was reportedly consuming over 144 GB of data when he thought he was connected to his home’s Wi-Fi account.

Mike Campbell of Apple Insider said that although some users enjoy this feature, others do not know it exists.

"It comes by default -- it is switched on,” Campbell explained. “That's why there's an uproar.”

Less than a month after the iOS 9 operating system debuted in September 2015, a California couple filed a $5 million class-action lawsuit over the potentially problematic Wi-Fi Assist feature. The suit stated that Apple provided "no warning or disclosure when the phone switches from Wi-Fi to cellular data," according to a separate article from CBS News.

In order to disable Wi-Fi Assist, go to "Settings," then "Cellular" or “Mobile Data,” and de-select "Wi-Fi Assist” at the bottom of the list of options.

Sources: CBS News [2], KYW-TV News / Photo Credit: Pang Kakit/Wikimedia Commons,