Apple's $14.8 Million iCloud Settlement: When Will My Money Arrive?

A class action suit claimed Apple didn't tell iCloud subscribers it used third-party servers to store their data.

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Expertise Personal finance, government and policy, consumer affairs
Dan Avery
4 min read
iCloud logo on a smartphone

Apple is shelling out $14.8 million to resolve a lawsuit that alleged it used third-party servers for its iCloud Plus service without telling subscribers.

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All eyes are on Apple Wednesday as the trillion dollar company is set to unveil the iPhone 14, a new Apple Watch series and more. But if you're eligible to be part of a $14.8 million settlement, there's one more reason to keep tabs on the iPhone-maker. If you paid for an Apple iCloud Plus subscription in 2015 or 2016, you might be one of the people receiving payments, which are expected to arrive soon (more details below). 

The class action lawsuit claims the company stored iCloud subscribers' data on third-party servers without telling them. Apple iCloud's basic edition comes with 5GB of storage, but additional space requires a paid iCloud Plus subscription. In 2019, plaintiffs in Williams v. Apple alleged Apple used outside servers to store data but made no mention of that fact in its marketing materials or terms and conditions. (The current iCloud customer agreement does refer to third-party servers.)

Apple did not respond to a request for comment. 

Here's what you need to know about the iCloud settlement, including who is eligible for payment, how much they can expect to receive and when payment will be sent.
For more on class action cases, find out if you qualify for money from T-Mobile's $350 million data breach case, Capital One's $190 million settlement or Facebook's $90 million data-tracking payout.

What was the Apple class action settlement about?

Plaintiffs in Williams v. Apple allege the company distributed data among third-party cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft's Azure platform -- a violation of Apple's own iCloud contract. 

In their complaint, the plaintiffs allege Apple "lacked the necessary infrastructure" to run iCloud and misrepresented the nature of its service, "merely reselling cloud storage space on cloud facilities of other entities."

Customers wouldn't have paid for a subscription if they knew Apple wasn't providing storage directly, they claim, or they would have expected to pay a lot less. The alleged misrepresentation allowed Apple "to charge a premium for its iCloud service because subscribers placed a value on having the 'Apple' brand as the provider of the storage service," according to the suit.
Apple's agreement to the settlement was not an admission of wrongdoing, the company said in filings.

Who could receive a payment from the iCloud storage settlement?

The settlement includes US residents who paid for an iCloud Plus subscription any time between Sept. 16, 2015, and Jan. 31, 2016, and had a US mailing address associated with their account. 
According to Apple, nearly 16.9 million people qualify as eligible class members.
During the settlement administration process, 20 people requested exclusion from the suit, although Apple accounts could only be verified for seven of them.

How do I know if I qualify?

The deadline has passed to submit a claim if you didn't receive a notification but believe you are eligible. However, most subscribers didn't have to file a claim to benefit from the settlement. As long as the email you used to sign up for iCloud Plus storage is still active, you should have received a notification that you are an eligible recipient, or "class member." 

How much money could I get from Apple?

The gross amount approved in August for the iCloud settlement is $14,800,000.23. How much will reach class members, though, will be determined after attorneys' fees and administrative costs are deducted.
The settlement agreement sets a cap of $2.4 million to cover "all costs and expenses related to the settlement administration functions to be performed by the Settlement Administrator." Lawyers for the plaintiffs requested $4.93 million, or one-third of the settlement, in attorneys' fees, but the court awarded them $3.7 million, or 25% of the settlement amount.

The exact amount of individual payments depends on how much storage you paid for, how long you had your subscription and the total number of people participating in the claim.

Read more: Apple Sued Over Access to Apple Pay Monopoly in iPhone Mobile Wallet

Don't expect to retire on the payout, though: Between 2015 and 2016, a monthly iCloud subscription ranged from 50GB of storage for 99 cents to 200GB for $2.99 to 1TB for $9.99.
 If you still have a monthly iCloud Plus subscription, your payment will appear as a credit on your Apple account.

If you no longer have a monthly iCloud subscription you will receive a physical check in the mail or an electronic transfer directly into your bank account. 

When will my payment from the Apple iCloud settlement arrive?

According to the terms of the settlement, payments should be distributed to eligible users within 90 days of the final approval on Aug. 4, 2022. 
There may be appeals or objections, however. Payments will be distributed "as soon as possible," according to the settlement suit.