Is AT&T Doing Bait & Switch On Broadband Caps?

from the not-surprising,-but-not-good dept

You would think with the PR nightmare surrounding capped broadband that forced Time Warner Cable to at least temporarily back off limiting broadband, that other broadband providers would be a lot more careful. However, Gigaom reports that some AT&T U-verse customers are discovering the broadband that AT&T is selling them is capped with low limits, but they’re not being told about these limits until after they’re locked in. It would seem like this is the sort of thing that the FTC has been known to frown upon — not to mention it’s also the type of thing that gets people pretty upset in a hurry. It really is amazing how hamfisted the broadband providers seem to be when it comes to marketing their broadband plans.

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Companies: at&t

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Comments on “Is AT&T Doing Bait & Switch On Broadband Caps?”

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The Cenobyte says:

FCC needs to just force them to list the terms

All that needs to happen to fix this is have the FCC and/or the FTC to force broadband providers to give a listing of extactly what they are selling you in a simple to read english format. I am sure they mostly already do that, but in 200pages of crap. All I need is a half page of what exactly the service is. Also contracts with home service contracts should be blocked from change without the customers consent at the time of change until the end of contract. IE clauses in contracts that allow pricing and service changes on the part of the provider that do not null the contract should be illegal.

mike42 (profile) says:

Not a cap

The term, “cap” is a misnomer. I had Verizon, and it’s a “ration at your monthly rate.” A “cap” would imply that something happens when you hit the limit, which it doesn’t. If you use more than 5 gig a month, you just pay more. Much more. As in $1 for every 4 meg.

Oh, yeah, to check your usage you have a utility you can run (which fails 1 out of 5 times) or you can disconnect and check the log (which doesn’t necessarily mesh with their records) It’s a very fast connection, which means that you can use up your entire 5 gig in a 36 hour period if you leave your browser on a streaming news site, or if your kid decides to leave the browser on MySpace with a streaming video in the background.

We really need some consumer advocates. My discussions with the Verizon help desk has led me to believe they nail people like this all the time.

I canceled my service after this fiasco. Screwing your customers is not a sustainable business model.

mjb5406 (profile) says:

Re: Not a cap

“Cap” is quite accurate. Something DOES happen when you hit the limit… you get charged more. Regardless of the semantics, caps or limits or rations are ludicrous in light of the always-dropping cost of providing the service, in conjunction with the experts’ view that the ISPs insistence that we are running out of bandwidth is nonsense.

Matt says:

bandwidth yadda yadda

want to know how much bandwidth capacity they really have? Ask if they could handle every viewer watching HDTV at the same time, multiple rooms in a house even. Guess what? They already do handle this (and have for 5+ years).

Yes, lets let them throttle for excuses of performance. sheesh. They just want to oversell it by a factor of 10 higher than they already do.

Frosty840 says:

What has happened with this situation in the UK is that all the IRPs (Internet Restriction Providers) suddenly introduced a bunch of capped plans with very low prices, so that nobody complained (“it’s cheap, it’s crap, and I’m not interested, so I don’t care”) and then started slowly raising the prices on the uncapped services (which all have cap-like, crippling “fair use” restrictions on them anyway) until we got to the current, dreadful situation.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

“mandatory arbitration clauses” have been shown in several courts to be unconscionable. This is because the courts accecpt the thory that a business is generaly in a much better bargining situation then the customer.

The Cell Phone companys already got hit with this:

(note: I am a Washinton resident, your state might be differnt)

The court felt that since arbitration paid for by the company had a 97% + rate of being in favor of the company that it was not fair to the consumer. As such the customer cant sign away their rights to lawsuit (including class action lawsuits) no matter what the contract says.

Anyway, if you sign me up for a 2 year net access, then change my terms im just going to cancle under the grounds that you changed my contract and I had a right to accecpt the new contract (or not).

Rekrul says:

This is a GREAT business model!

I’m going to start my own house painting service, and I’ll make people sign a contract before I begin. Buried in all the fine print will be a clause saying that I can change the terms of the contract at any time. Then, I’ll paint one small area, claim that their house is taking too much paint and quit. When they complain that I didn’t deliver the service that they paid for, I’ll just point them to the contract and tell them that I changed the terms.

That way, I can charge big bucks and hardly have to do any work or use much paint. I’ll be rich!

If they try to sue me, I can point out the anti-sue clause that they agreed to and use AT&T as an example of other businesses that work this way.

FakeName1986273 says:

Re: Rekrul

I’ll tell you this much… I just signed up for U-Verse, and I like some things better than Time Warner, but other things I don’t like as much. If they change my rates at ANY POINT or cap my broadband either by throttling it down or charging me after a certain limit is reached, I’ll be leaving them, and I will not be paying them a dime. I’ve got two friends that are lawyers (one in intellectual property) and my dad is a senator. Bring it bitches. If you want to tussle, lets tussle.

Anonymous Coward says:

Yep, get ’em hooked, then jack up the price. Then run an ad campaign villainizing ‘pirates and other illegal bandwidth hogs’ as the reason your service already sucks; Just keep trying out different lies ’till you find one that’ll keep your ‘customers’ from burning down your corporate headquarters, and go for it!

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