Clearwire target of class action suit alleging false advertising

A class action lawsuit filed in Washington state alleges Clearwire misrepresented to customers that its Internet service was fast, reliable and comparable to cable Internet and DSL. The plaintiffs, who come from Washington, Hawaii, Minnesota and North Carolina, retained a Washington DC law firm, to bring the lawsuit against Clearwire for false advertising, unfair business practices and for reimbursement of early termination fees. The “class of plaintiffs” is defined in the complaint as:

All subscribers to Defendant’s Internet or Internet and telephone service pursuant to contracts which include an early termination fee provision or who have paid an early termination fee to or have been charged an early termination fee by Defendant at any time from April 21, 2005 to the present.

The plaintiffs are not subscribers to Clearwire’s WiMAX service in Portland or Baltimore (they’re from places that have Clearwire’s pre-WiMAX service). But it seems to cover anyone who has subscribed to Clearwire’s WiMAX service in Portland and Baltimore. If you look at the terms of service effective 27 January 2009 on Clearwire website (for WiMAX service), it fits the description in the definition of class of plaintiffs.

What is interesting about this lawsuit is that to me, Clearwire has two classes of plaintiffs: those who subscribed to its pre-WiMAX service and those in Portland and Baltimore who have purchase the WiMAX service, but they are all “rolled into one”, presumably to make the class larger. I don’t know if the WiMAX subscribers have the same complaints about their service as the pre-WiMAX subscribers.

Download the complaint:


  1. We interviewed Marc Wallis, a Clear Wimax Subscriber In Portland, a couple of weeks ago and he seemed obviously satisfied with the service, in terms of data transfer speed and reliability, even if there were some limited dead areas.

    “I have been using mobile service since the middle of December […] the service is not failed […] The only limitation I’m finding is that mobile service indoors is spotty. At my house, it’s fine indoors. At Costco, indoors, it’s fine. But at the hospital, in the waiting area (deeper inside an 8-story building) I couldn’t get a signal. I finally did get my signal up on the 7th floor, in a patient room near the window. As long as I’ve been outdoors, I’m getting good solid service in the areas that I travel.”

    However, here is an ‘interesting’ source gathering complaints concerning Clearwire services
    ( Nothing about Baltimore or Portland so far.

    Great site by the way…always a ggod source of information for wimax & wireless !!

  2. Misti in Seattle says:

    Oh wow… it is about time! I will be looking to find out where I can join up. My service with Clearwire is abominable in spite of the fact that I live within a few hundred yards of a tower and withing a mile or so of five towers, according to their reps. I have been paying for a phone for over a year with no service because I can’t even get onto the Internet half the time so haven’t bothered to connect the phone. A Clearwire rep even told me that if I can’t get decent Internet the phone would not work. I have been wondering when they would get a lawsuit against them.

  3. How can I sue these rhieves?

  4. richard kaier says:

    It is about time that clearwire is held accountable for their ludicrous and unfair business practices. I have just finished a 2 year contract and would’ve dropped them except I found out AFTER beginning a contract with them I would have the stiff early termination fees! Now that I have finished the contract, I cannot get the necessary email with the shipping label to send back the modem. They are simply trying to keep me on and trying to charge me for more usage-I already changed my payment info and they have no way to charge except to send a bill. But, the point is, if I could have dropped them 1 1/2 years ago, I would have and thus have been paying almost $45 a month for this shotty service. I think I and others like me should be included in the early termination lawsuits being proceeded against clearwire also.

  5. richard in portland says:

    I signed up for Clear WiMAX service in PDX during their inital rollout in Jan-09. Now, ~10 months later, I am pretty disappointed with them. Without moving the RF modem/antenna dongle I get wildly varying signal strengths (between 2/10 and 9/10) and wildly varying speeds as well. Performance is great if you are close enough to a cell site antenna to run a wire(!). But if you try it out in the real world, I regularly see speeds around 1Mb down and 35K up.
    This has been getting worse over the months. A few months ago I could watch streaming video on hulu, but not anymore. I can start it up and then pause it to let the buffer fill and get 5 uninterrupted minutes at a time. It’s almost bad enough to write off the early termination fee, but I will probably stick out the minimum term. But they won’t get any repeat business from me unless they clean up their act. At least technical performance. I have no illusions that they would ever put technically competent people answering the phones.

  6. I like the comment “I used to watch Hulu but not anymore”.How many videos did you watch before you hit the cap and got throttled back? The terms you agreed to clearly state that usage that is determined to be excessive will be throttled. I had Cricket 3g and the cap was 5GB a month, Comcast 250GB a month. Now while clear does not state a hard cap for speed limit kick in I am sure watching Hulu all day will kick the cap in sooner than later when combined with updates and downloads, torrents, games. I have done over 40 gigs in a month no throttle for the same price as Cricket with a mere 5gb cap. I would say keep it real and your service will not be throttled. You agreed to it and you know what, its a great deal for wireless 4g if you keep it real. Of course if you go Wimax and find the signal to weak for your home i have to ask why you buy before you try? Its Wimax and needs testing before sign up and there are guys who do the test. If your a normal internet user and you do your footwork you can get a great $55.00 a month deal for home and mobile broadband.

  7. Hey Mark, How long have you worked for Clear?

  8. I made the mistake of signing up with Clear in Jan of 2010… it’s complete garbage. Basically it’s the AOL of today! You can rarely watch Netflix streaming without several interruptions. You cannot watch a youtube video without playing the buffer game. It’s completely pointless to pay for this service anymore. It works okay/below average if ALL you do is http type of data transfer with ZERO video watching.

  9. Before I signed up for Netflix, I contacted Clear to verify that my internet connection was capable of running Netflix. I was told that my 3.0Mbps package would do but to “enhance” my viewing I should upgrade to the 50% more expensive, $45/mo, package. I did. I signed up for Netflix after talking to them. They told me that for “seamless” video display I needed a connection with a speed of 1.5Mbps. Netflix has never run without constant “retrieving” and when I started checking my results I was supprised to note that I was never getting a 1.5Mbps DL speed. In fact the only inprovement was to increase my UL speed from 500Kbps to near 1.0Mbps. Clear is “clearly” not living up to the promise I recieved from the sales department. I have filed a Form 2000A deceptive advertising complaint with I recieved a form letter from Clear corporate with the “we are looking into your complaint” but that was all that happened. My speedtest results today yielded the following ping 151; DL .14Mbps; UL .28Mbps. With a modem showing “5 lights” I can only conclude Clear doesn’t have the infrastructure to provide the service they are selling. I would like to get my money back for the $100 modem, a refund for the 11 months of service that has been below what was promised and a pledge to remove capacity from the towers until the service responds at the level they promised. Fair enough!

  10. I am being terminated from Clear for over using bandwidth and have no idea how I am doing this although I have talked to their people twice for hours on the phone and in the end they say I am using too much bandwidth and will loose service in 14 days period. No recorse – not options – is there anything I can do about this – they advertise fast unlimited service and I have never enountered this before with any other provider – they do not make much sense when you try to talk to them – I hope you can contact me (Dave) as I would like to find out how to join this lawsuit if in fact they do terminate my service

  11. PS – I am unaware of the throttleing back part of commets above – is that something Clear does when this happens (too much bandwidth usage) or should they be able to do that??? I asked if they could resolve the issue this way from their end and was told no I had to do it somehow from my end — yes I consider myself to be a normal user and yes I do stream vids but shouldn’t I be able to do that??? without worring that I am somehow destroying their system or affecting other customers which seems hightly unlikely

  12. kareem ahmed says:

    I own a cell phone store in the Nashville area. A while back a clear representative came in trying to sell me on becoming an authorized dealer. I agreed to meet with her and honestly her pitch sold me. There commission structure was one of the best I had seen, the upfront dealer costs of $1000 were cheap compared to other companies, a large percentage of that money went to purchasing promotional items, and she made the service sound solid.

    One of the prerequisites of becoming a Clear dealer is that you have to purchase there service on a take 3 plan with a 2 year contract. I had no problem with this, if I am to sell there product I should be using it. I was told the service was unlimited with no cap in the 4G bandwidth. I was also told that if I wanted to buy out of my contract I would only have to pay 2 months of service.

    After purchasing Clear, and becoming a authorized dealer I was pleasantly surprised with the service. My speeds were really fast, I was streaming full movies with no problems, and I was saving money since I was supplying Internet to my store and my home on the same plan.
    After about a month of service I started to experience the nightmare of Clear. My speeds had dropped dramatically, and the service was unbearable. When it worked it would take minutes to open the simplest of pages. I remember one time where I timed it and it took 1 min 32 seconds to open Craigslist!

    As a dealer I tried to contact a representative to find out what was happening with my account. For the life of me I could not talk to a customer representative. The first few times I called I gave up after waiting for about 45 minutes.
    After finally buckling down, determined to talk to a rep, I finally reached one after being on hold for a hour and a half. After another half hour of being given the run around they finally admitted to throttling my speed. I was furious. When I tried to cancel my account I was told my termination fees were close to $300. Way more than my rep quoted me on.

    The first month I had Clear my rep was helping me to sell it. I sold it to three customers before my account was throttled making back approximately half the money I spent to become a Clear dealer.

    After my web was throttled I would no longer sell it to my customers. I actually had a few customers come in specifically to buy Clear and I talked them out of it. I make about $300 a customer that I am able to get on a 2 year contract. I threw this money away because I am a firm believer in believing in what you sell.
    Also, at about the same time our account began to get throttled, the rep that sold us clear was laid off due to Clears massive cutbacks. The new rep that replaced her, I had never met.

    Clear stole $1000 from me with false promises. Additionally they also are continuing to get $83 from me per month because I am unable to terminate the service. I have since wrote my rep and explained to him my opinions and in turn they terminated my dealer privileges. which is all in good as I would not sell there service anyway.
    I keep the Clear sign in my store window so that if someone comes in inquiring about it I can save them the nightmare that is Clear. You would think that if there was any customer that they would not throttle it would be there dealers as they are representing them. However they lack the common business sense to do that.

    Do yourself a favor, if you run into a salesman that is trying to sell you Clear, run as far aways as possible as fast as you can. They are a crook company that should not be allowed to continue to do business.

    A actual ex-Clear dealer

  13. clear is the worst internet provider in the history of internet. they false advertise and promise u all of these things and dont even come close to what they say. i can’t play any online game because clear is so pathetic i lose when i outplay the opposition. this isnt just about a game though. my speeds are below1 mbps much of the time when they say 6- 12 mbps on my plan. i would like to know how to join the lawsuit myself. this company needs to go down and stop stealing peoples money. they need to be permanently put out of business

  14. Clear wire does throttle your speed if you use too much bandwith, as stated by their very on tech support today. I also upgraded to the more expensive plan in order to watch netflix, was told it would work just fine and it did for 1 day or about 6 movies. Then my speed went from an average of 3 to .62 the next day.

    couldn’t even get online very well with that speed.

    I had heard the horror stories a few years back, but thought maybe they had gotten better. But boy was i wrong. They will be the next to go bye bye. Best of luck to ya all…

  15. Wimax uses adaptive modulation the speed is directly linked to the signal strength and quality, generally speaking you must be in close the the cell tower and have a signal strength greater than -82dmb to operate at high data rates.