If you are frustrated over how responsive your cellular system is, even though you purchased an unlimited data plan from AT&T, chances are that you are not alone. According to a recent WashingtonPost.com report, the Federal Trade Commission has received thousands of complaints from AT&T customers about how their phones essentially became ineffective.

The reason? A practice called “throttling” was the culprit. Essentially, Internet speeds on a cellular network would be “throttled down” to prevent customers from using additional data after they used a certain amount; commonly 2 gigabytes of data. When throttling occurred, pictures would not load, searches would not be completed, and maps that would normally appear within seconds would take minutes to load. The practice reportedly affected more than 3 million wireless customers who purchased unlimited data plans, yet who experienced substantial data slowdowns for an average of 12 days per month.

Because of this, the FTC has initiated a lawsuit against AT&T, accusing the nation’s largest wireless provider of false advertising because the unlimited data plans they held out to consumers were not necessarily unlimited.

Customers are entitled to the benefit of the bargain. This means that when they purchase something based on a vendor’s advertisements, they should be secure in knowing that what they purchased is actually what was sold to them. If a vendor deviates from this expectation, they could be held liable for false advertising. Federal law prohibits vendors from using slogans, phrases or sayings to mislead customers into purchasing a product or services.

In response to the lawsuit, AT&T appears adamant that it has not misled customers who purchased unlimited data plans. In the meantime, consumers want to throttle AT&T for throttling down data speeds.