Comcast Cap Blunder Highlights How Nobody Is Ensuring Broadband Meters Are Accurate

from the phantom-charges dept

For years now we've noted that while broadband ISPs rush toward broadband caps and usage overage fees, nobody is checking to confirm that ISP meters are accurate. The result has been user network hardware that reports usage dramatically different from an ISPs' meters, or users who are billed for bandwidth usage even when the power is out or the modem is off. Not only have regulators historically failed to see the anti-innovation, anti-competitive impact of usage caps, you'd be hard pressed to find a single official that has even commented on the problem of inaccurate broadband usage meters.

Enter Comcast, which has, of course, been slowly but surely expanding its usage caps into more and more noncompetitive markets. And given that Comcast continues to have among the worst customer service in any U.S. industry, the combined end result is about what you'd expect. Like users who say they've been repeatedly over-billed for broadband consumption that never actually occurred:
"Oleg received warnings in September and another in October, the latter while he was overseas for a multiple-week vacation with his wife. When they returned home on November 9th, Comcast’s data meter was “showing I used 120 gigs of data, like, while I was gone,” he wrote. Customers can check their usage on Comcast’s website."

...Calls with Comcast customer service agents didn’t clear up the problem. "I called Comcast... and was patronizingly informed that 'it must be somebody stealing your Wi-Fi,'" he wrote. "Possible, but highly unlikely. I’m a software developer, Linux kernel contributor, and I take my home security very seriously."
This being Comcast, the user was ignored when he told the ISP he was being billed for 120 GB of usage that supposedly occurred when he was away on vacation. So the user set about trying to document his problem over at YouTube, noting how he spent a few months using only cellular data to try and prove to Comcast their billing system was broken:
Note this is actually a Comcast user with some technical skills; many Comcast users likely wouldn't know they were being over-billed, or if they did, wouldn't know how to measure their own usage. And of course in traditional Comcast fashion, it once again took somebody in the press to get Comcast to fix its screw up. Ultimately, Comcast admitted that it had accidentally swapped the user's MAC address, and was charging the customer for somebody else's usage:
Oleg provided us his full name and address so we could check into his situation with Comcast. The company investigated the problem after being contacted by Ars and confirmed that its meter readings were inaccurate. “We have reached out and resolved this,” a Comcast spokesperson told Ars. “There was a technical error associated with his account, which we have since corrected.”

"Comcast told Oleg that its system had him confused with another customer, he said. “It turns out their system had my modem MAC address entered incorrectly, there was an off-by-one typo that was hard to see so they were counting data from some modem who knows where,” Oleg told Ars.
So yeah, you've got multiple problems at play all creating a supernova of dysfunction. One, Comcast's taking advantage of the lack of broadband competition to impose usage caps (the user above says he'd leave, but has no other choices). Two, Comcast is using these usage caps to give its own content a leg up by exempting it from said caps (zero rating). Three, Comcast's dismal customer service means that even if you can prove you're being over-billed, you may not be able to get it fixed. Four, nobody in government can be bothered to make sure ISPs are metering accurately.

ISPs are incredibly eager to bill like utilities, but they've fought tooth and nail against being regulated as such. And despite all of the ISP hand wringing over net neutrality rules saddling them with draconian "utility regulations," regulators have by and large avoided truly applying most utility-grade regulations and price controls on ISPs. Should Comcast and other U.S. ISPs keep pushing their luck with usage caps, all of that may eventually need to change.

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  • icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:33am

    Cox.com Usage Meter

    As much as I hate it, the Cox.com usage meter is surprisingly accurate, though it isn't current. They seem to update once a day, which means you won't see the current usage until tomorrow (which may be too late.) But they don't charge you extra, and don't cut your connection, just send you a nasty-gram. According to my router, I've used 605.40 GB for the month, and their website says I've used 605.61 GB (that is a difference of 215.04 MB in their favor, maybe traffic that reached the head-end but never got to my router. With a 2TB cap, I rarely get close to it, though back when my cap was 350GB, I'd regularly go over it and would see the emails.)

    Still, I've had as much difficulty with folks reading my water and power meters (I caught my power company estimating my bill (which I never asked for, and they only did before installing smart meters because my meter was in a "difficult place to safely get access to" long after they installed "smart-meters" which could give a minute by minute accounting of my power without sending out a meter reader,) so I am not sure that if Cox was held to a higher standard, they would have issues.

    Still, being charged for someone elses' traffic seems like something they would have caught quickly if they were regulated properly, if they could get that (I doubt we currently get good regulation with other utilities which often have to get noticed by the media to fix too.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:56am

      Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

      It would be interesting to see they finally get regulated as utilities. How much does a Gb cost to be transferred. I don't think it's 'fair' though, most of us would agree that we don't want to pay for bw used by advertising, telemetry and other annoyances.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:04am

        Re: Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

        As someone who zealously hunts down and eliminates all forms of advertising and telemetry in my house, and actively despises sites that, through poor design, require excessive resources to render (e.g. downloading huge Javascript libraries or large images, on a page which is supposed to be all about a text table), I would love to see people billed for the bandwidth used for advertising, telemetry, etc. Currently, most users do not see these things as sufficiently negative for them to spend any effort fighting it. If they were billed for content they do not want, that might motivate them to fight against it.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Jeremy2020 (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 1:33pm

          Re: Re: Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

          Don't worry, there's a fix for that. Advertising companies could pay to have their ads exempted from the cap!! See how great not having net neutrality is! Always a solution for every problem!

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:58am

        Re: Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

        It would be interesting to see they finally get regulated as utilities. How much does a Gb cost to be transferred. I don't think it's 'fair' though, most of us would agree that we don't want to pay for bw used by advertising, telemetry and other annoyances.

        Yeah, this is where they would fail...it costs much less than what they currently charge to transfer data. Though I suspect they'd just increase the "ready to serve" costs to match what they are currently taking as profit, like all the other utilities do.

        Does it really cost $60 a month in infrastructure costs to deliver water to me? Maybe. But considering we keep having busted pipes around here, I doubt they are spending $60/month to actually maintain the infrastructure.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          That Anonymous Coward (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 4:32pm

          Re: Re: Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

          Which is the business model they like.
          We take in all of this cash because we have overhead costs!!
          But then when something breaks we need more, because we sent the CEO to Jamaica rather than spend anything on maintaining the system.

          The system is supposed to punish utilities who don't keep their systems in good repair with fines & loss of income from those customers they aren't actually serving... the upside for Comcast is they can just fat finger a mac address and claim that even if the line was gone, you still used huge data on a dead line.

          Even if utilities suck, there at least is pretend oversight that can do something when stuff gets really bad.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 12:51pm

      Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

      Still, I've had as much difficulty with folks reading my water and power meters...

      I've had problems with just about every kind of meter there is. Power, gas, water, gasoline pump, etc., they all suck! Dump the meters! All of them!

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 3:35pm

        Re: Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

        Dump the meters! All of them!

        I am pretty sure this is /s, but can't tell.

        However, the meters would work fine if the regulators did their job and forced companies to assure that the meters were working and being monitored correctly. If the company running the meter can't be arsed enough to make sure it is running and being monitored/checked properly, than there shouldn't be a requirement for the consumer to pay until the vendor proves that the meter is correct.

        The problem here, unlike water/power meters, is that there is no regulation, and no recourse. If my water/power is being read incorrectly, I can complain to the CPUC and get it repaired/reversed. Here, it is my word against the cable company...and that apparently ends poorly for Comcast users unless they involve the media. My statement was solely that, given my limited experiences with errors in water and power metering, I don't think the cable-company meters would be much different, though it would be nice to go to the CPUC and say, "I don't think this is right" and have them go back to the cable company and investigate whether the meter was working properly.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 7:56pm

          Re: Re: Re: Cox.com Usage Meter

          The problem here, unlike water/power meters, is that there is no regulation, and no recourse.

          Every state has laws against fraud. Recourse is the courts. Of course, you have to prove your case, which is a little harder than just making accusations.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:35am

    Comcast: Ensuring customer satisfaction, one silenced customer at a time

    When asked for comment, a Comcast representative speaking anonymously had this to say:

    "As incidents like this show, our company has a serious problem, and it is one we are fully committed to fixing. Starting early 2016, all Comcast customers will be asked to sign a new service contract if they wish to continue with our service. Buried deeply within the contract in between incomprehensible legalese will be an NDA clause, barring the customer from going public with any issues they may experience with their service unless they receive permission to do so directly from the CEO of Comcast and the president of at least one foreign nation, at the exact same time.

    Violation of this clause will incur a fee just large enough to empty the customer's bank account in order to trigger overdraft fees, followed by an additional fee one day later to really twist the knife, as well as cancellation of the customer's service unless they are willing to sign over the deed to their house and any vehicles they may own.

    Comcast is dedicated to ensuring that our customer service maintains the professionalism, accuracy, and honesty that customers have come to expect from it, and we believe that this new change will help the company better serve the public, by eliminating any bothersome trivialities that might distract our customers from our stellar service, or at least shutting them up so we don't have to listen to any complaints."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:47am

      Re: Comcast: Ensuring customer satisfaction, one silenced customer at a time

      Your comments are always erudite and perfectly snarky and I'd like to write some articles for Techdirt. If not, keep up the awesome commenting.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:47am

      Re: Comcast: Ensuring customer satisfaction, one silenced customer at a time

      You forgot to mention he said all that while hiding a dead puppy and a dead kitten in each hand he had just murdered barehanded.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:47am

    even when the power is out or the modem is off.

    Continuous pinging to detect when the modem comes back online sure consumes the data.

    /s

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    icon
    Whatever (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 8:47am

    Laughing...

    This quote got me:

    'it must be somebody stealing your Wi-Fi,'" he wrote. "Possible, but highly unlikely. I’m a software developer, Linux kernel contributor, and I take my home security very seriously."

    First off, if you take network security seriously, you would turn off your router while you are out of the country. Why leave it open?

    Second, isn't the standard "someone hacked by wifi" the excuse for every pirate who wants to say they didn't download the file or aren't seeding the latest movies? Under the standard Techdirt list of excuses, this guy is totally f--ked because, well, someone could always hack his wifi, right?

    Another head shaking moment on Techdirt.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:01am

      Re: Laughing...

      "you would turn off your router ... Why leave it open?"

      Router power on does not necessarily mean the router is "open".

      Your pathetic attack upon poster's stated experience in the field does not prove said cap overage was his, nor does it prove copyright infringement.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        AricTheRed (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:33am

        Re: Re: Laughing...

        Brian L. Roberts, Please! Remember to log in to your techdirt user account before posting comments, especially when poopooing an obviously tech savvy person about being tech savvy.

        OK?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:02am

      Re: Laughing...

      First off, if you take network security seriously, you would turn off your router while you are out of the country. Why leave it open?

      I do think it's an electricity waste yes. In any case the risk is the same of daily usage. It's still open. Your point?

      Second, isn't the standard "someone hacked by wifi" the excuse for every pirate who wants to say they didn't download the file or aren't seeding the latest movies?

      He proved it was not the case by using the phone instead of his regular connection. It's amusing you are performing some nasty contortions to link to something an yet failing. If somebody is accusing a "pirate", the burden of proving whether the wifi was compromised or not is on the accuser, which he did.

      Another head shaking moment on Techdirt.

      Yeah, I always shake my head when you display your... talent.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:03am

      Re: Laughing...

      You forgot to chide him for having the gall to go public with the problem, rather than shutting up and paying it like a good little wallet.

      Come now, if you're going to ignore the fact that Comcast got caught with their pants down, charging someone for massively more than they was using, and instead focus only on the customer that had to go public to get the issue resolved, really heap on that misplaced blame. No need to use a spoon when there's a shovel handy.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:08am

      Re: Laughing...

      ...Because it wasn't "open" at all, but merely on?

      More importantly, why isn't comcast being fined massively for this theft and fraud?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Whatever (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:37am

        Re: Re: Laughing...

        "Because it wasn't "open" at all, but merely on?"

        The excuse for piracy is that WiFi is easily hacked. So "secure" or "open" doesn't mean anything by that standard. Clearly, his wifi could have been hacked and used as a seed point for torrents while he was out of the country.

        I don't think that it's the case, and I do think comcast is likely in the wrong. But if we want to play fair, the "wifi is secure" argument doesn't stand up to the usual excuses posted on Techdirt about it being easily hacked.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ltlw0lf (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

          The excuse for piracy is that WiFi is easily hacked. So "secure" or "open" doesn't mean anything by that standard. Clearly, his wifi could have been hacked and used as a seed point for torrents while he was out of the country.


          If you had actually read the post or watched the video, you would have seen that his router did not have wifi built in to it, and thus wifi was not an issue. While it was possible that someone could have accessed his wifi, it would have shown up on his router statistics, which it didn't. The nightmare scenario would have to be, after obtaining illicit access to the wifi and seeding their torrents, they somehow broke into the router and deleted only the traffic from their seeds while allowing the rest of the traffic to remain accounted for. In my experience, hackers don't do this. They either break in to the router and delete everything, including their traces, or they don't delete anything. Most "wifi pirates" don't do anything, because it is hard enough to find them anyway.

          Even more, if the hacker had broken into the wifi to seed their torrents, he would have seen the results when he disconnected his connection to the cable modem and connected to the cell network, which he didn't.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 4:20pm

          Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

          Did you miss the part about Comcast ADMITTING to tracking the wrong MAC address?

          Given that they ADMITTED that, isn't your point just more of your self-righteous "pirates ZOMG!" horse shit, as opposed to Comcast clearly being wrong, and someone having the technical know-how to call them on their bullshit?

          Seriously, why not set a proper example and prove to us that you have the proper copyright permissions to use the Rambler club logo in your profile.

          Otherwise, why shouldn't we think that you're a pirate yourself? And a hypocrite to boot?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 7:06pm

          Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

          "Comcast is wrong, but fuck Techdirt. If Techdirt disagrees with someone who says breathing oxygen is bad for your body I will slit my own wrist if it means having to make Techdirt look wrong."

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 7:46pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

            If Techdirt disagrees with someone who says breathing oxygen is bad for your body I will slit my own wrist if it means having to make Techdirt look wrong.

            You damn well better if that's what you're getting paid to do.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 1:17am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

            troll.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            Whatever (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 9:14am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

            Pathetic, honestly. It's not "fuck techdirt", it's "didn't you notice the stupidity of claiming wifi is secure".

            It doesn't make Techdirt right or wrong. It just points of something that I consider funny - when it comes to explain away piracy, WiFi isn't secure at all and apparently people get hacked all the time. Yet, when it comes to counting broadband usage, it's absolutely impossible that anyone could hack his "secured" wifi.

            I think it's funny as hell, and points out quite a contradictory situation.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              ltlw0lf (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 10:15am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

              Whatever, despite anonymous troll's statement above as to your character, you might be a troll, but I've always appreciated your comments. We may disagree, but I've always found your discussion to be worthwhile, and I cannot stand people flagging your comments just because they disagree.

              Yet, when it comes to counting broadband usage, it's absolutely impossible that anyone could hack his "secured" wifi.

              I don't think anyone is actually saying that it is impossible for anyone to have hacked his wifi...I believe what people are saying, which is correct, is that the usage isn't coming from someone hacking his wifi. He says in his video and on his pastebin post that they said maybe his wifi was hacked, but he showed how that is not the issue. Sure, someone may have hacked his wifi while he was on vacation, but he was showing that:

              1) Comcast was saying he was using internet when he wasn't even connected to Comcast. (Someone who hacked his wifi wouldn't be able to get to comcast if he wasn't connected.)
              2) He connected to his cell-based internet and the cell-phone company said he was using 8gbps during the time that Comcast said he used 66gbps without even being connected to their network.
              3) As I said above, according to him, neither his modem or router has wifi built in, so even if they did get access to his wifi, they would have to have broken into his router and deleted just their activity, which isn't likely.

              I think it's funny as hell, and points out quite a contradictory situation.

              I don't think that is being said, and the only contradiction is in your own head. He (Oleg), not Techdirt, said it was possible someone hacked his wifi, and then went on to prove that it wasn't someone hacking his wifi, and Comcast eventually relented, after they had to be shamed into it.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 30 Dec 2015 @ 12:14am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

                Eh, Whatever isn't flagged because he's being disagreed with. It's because he's a douchebag that spams the site with insults and irrelevant snipes at others to make himself and his perspective appear unquestioned and superior.

                Maybe you consider pandering to authoritarianism and telling the other serfs to go pound sand and ignore police/government oversight as constructive and contributory to the discussion. Most people don't, and especially not when done in the obnoxiously pompous style Whatever chooses to employ.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          JMT (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 6:47am

          Re: Re: Re: Laughing...

          "The excuse for piracy is that WiFi is easily hacked."

          Nobody has ever claimed such nonsense. That doesn't even make sense. Try harder.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:21am

      Re: Laughing...

      > Why leave it open?

      TiVo or any other DVR that needs to update it schedule information databases, for example. There are many things that may be operating in the home that need an Internet connection despite the fact that the homeowner is away.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    yankinwaoz (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:04am

    Why are ISP and Telcos meters not regulated?

    In my state (Cal), and I suspect most states, there is a state government level department who audits and regulates meters. I see their inspection stickers on the gas pumps and the scales at the grocery store. They even have a website: https://www.cdfa.ca.gov/dms/

    If a business chooses to sell their product by some unit of measurement, then they should fall under the jurisdiction of this department.

    When AT&T sells me mobile service by the Gigabit, why can't I demand that my state audit AT&T to assure that they are measuring the bits correctly?

    When Cox/Comcast/TWC implement datacaps, why can't I check with the CDFA to assure that their meter is correct?

    I suspect the sad truth is that somehow Telcos and ISP's have managed to get themselves exempted from regulation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 12:01pm

      Re: Why are ISP and Telcos meters not regulated?

      And if such a bit-counting audit/regulation was implemented, there would be yet another below-the-line fee tacked on to the bills.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:04am

    Bandwidth charges using standard **AA rates

    So lets say 1 GB costs $10 (for this exercise).

    If this was the rate then this would be the service.
    Sponsor Advertising .4GB per 1GB purchased
    Public Service Ads .1GB per 1 GB purchased
    ISP Advertising .2GB per 1 GB purchased
    Network Advertising .2GB per 1GB purchased

    Actual content delivery .1GB per 1GB purchased (actual content provided may vary depending on market conditions and ad bank reserves).

    So based on cable and advertising rates/schedules, this is how 1GB sold for $10 ends up costing $100 rather than the "advertised" rate of $10.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Berenerd (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:21am

    But Comcast is offering a Gigabit service in some areas now!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:24am

    Huh???

    ...It turns out their system had my modem MAC address entered incorrectly...

    And how does that happen? I've registered MACs lots of times. Either the device is online and you'll see it in a connected devices directory or it's offline, you enter the MAC manually in the address table and then put the device online to see that it actually connects with the desired IP address.

    The fact that he even got any internet response - remember that the MAC is embedded into every TCP/IP packet - tells me that Comcast is trying to avoid responsibility.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:14am

      Re: Huh???

      The fact that he even got any internet response - remember that the MAC is embedded into every TCP/IP packet - tells me that Comcast is trying to avoid responsibility.

      The MAC address is found in the Ethernet/DOCSIS Frame. It isn't found in the TCP/IP packet. However, you are correct, most head-end routers are configured not to provide an DHCP address to the modem unless the modem's MAC address is provisioned. Theoretically, there shouldn't be two identical MAC addresses on the network, and thus one of the two should be forced offline at any particular time. However, DOCSIS does things a little differently than Ethernet. Its been a while since I've played with DOCSIS, but I guess if two modems had the same MAC address, they could theoretically exist on two separate head-end routers and be given different IP addresses and still have the system work.

      In this case, however, it looks like both devices were provisioned properly using their own, non-identical MAC addresses, and then the accounting system was set up incorrectly to add both addresses to a single account, probably by linking the other person's connection to his account via an improperly entered MAC address, which seems to be a horrible primary key for a database (since it changes each time he gets a new modem.)

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:27am

    A few minor points

    Well nothing says that the system is broken, merely mis-configured. The wrong MAC address was inputted. This mistake doesn't give enough evidence to say that Comcast's software isn't capable of measuring bandwidth accurately.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Adam (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:41am

    Bigger problems...

    So what would have happened if the mix up was tied to illegal activity online.. Say the "other guy" made a threat online... what happens when the cops show up at 6am, break down doors and shoot the dog?

    And another question.. why the heck is comcast TYPING mac addresses into any system?!?!?!? I'm guessing the failure rate on accuracy is pretty high here.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ltlw0lf (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:41am

      Re: Bigger problems...

      And another question.. why the heck is comcast TYPING mac addresses into any system?!?!?!? I'm guessing the failure rate on accuracy is pretty high here.

      I believe that is part of the provisioning process. They have a bunch of devices that are connected to their network that have not been provisioned, so when the user calls up to add a device, they get the MAC address from the user and then search their database of unprovisioned devices and match the found unprovisioned device to the user's account.

      However, if they input the incorrect MAC address, the provisioning process should fail because the wrong modem will be activated. Thus the user doesn't get internet because the wrong device is provisioned. A good programmer would detect that this MAC address doesn't exist in the pool and yell at the tech, but so far Comcast hasn't convinced me that they have good programmers. What would be scary here is if the wrong device is somehow linked to their account, so I could call in, have the wrong MAC address, and have someone else's modem accidentally linked to my account. Maybe after discovering my modem still wasn't working, called the tech and they added the correct MAC address to my account so now I have both modems linked to my account.

      That is what I suspect happened here was that, somehow during the process of provisioning the modem, one user's modem was added to another user's account during the provisioning process. I wouldn't be surprised if *that* happened more often than it is reported.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 7:48pm

        Re: Re: Bigger problems...

        A good programmer would detect that this MAC address doesn't exist in the pool and yell at the tech,

        Umm, what "pool"?

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          ltlw0lf (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 7:03am

          Re: Re: Re: Bigger problems...

          Umm, what "pool"?

          If you aren't bothered enough to actually read my comment, why respond? The answer you seek is in my first paragraph.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 2:01pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Bigger problems...

            If you aren't bothered enough to actually read my comment, why respond? The answer you seek is in my first paragraph.

            There is no such thing as a "database of unprovisioned devices". So the answer is that you're spouting off with no idea of what you're talking about. No wonder you didn't want to answer the question.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              ltlw0lf (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 3:27pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bigger problems...

              Please, enlighten us all as to Comcast runs their network so that we can discuss this correctly in future instances.

              What NAC do they use? Do they use a commercial provisioning system or a roll-your-own? Who supplies their DHCP, TFTP, and CMTS hardware/software?

              This is the internet. People spouting off stuff they know nothing about is about as common as other people showing up and saying that someone else doesn't know what they are talking about without providing anything of substance to the discussion.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 8:32pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Bigger problems...

                Please, enlighten us all as to Comcast runs their network so that we can discuss this correctly in future instances.

                If you don't know, then why were you making up some non-sense about some great, mythical "database of unprovisioned devices"? I think there's a word for presenting stuff as fact when it isn't.

                This is the internet.

                So it is. And when you start making stuff up and presenting it as fact, expect that somebody may call you on it.

                (*They use mostly a combination of Cisco CMTS's and Arris UBR's with the proprietary Bedrock provisioning system. None of which changes the facts at hand.)

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 5:41pm

      Re: Bigger problems...

      How is modem functional if they have the wrong addy for it? Just whose account is the MAC for HIS modem associated with on?

      Everyone with a COMCAST account needs to call and verify that COMCAST has the correct modem MAC addy associated to their account. Please call when there is a wrestling event on and really tie up their customer service.

      But seriously, call and verify your MAC addy with them.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:04am

    I avoided the caps by staying with independent AT&T resellers like Dslextreme and now Sonic. AT&T just released U-Verse to Sonic and I am getting just under 24MB/2MB for the same 6M/1M $50 month. Bad thing is ATT controls the routing on U-Verse. Sonic has provided a VPN service to avoid ATT's amateur network and I am experimenting with it as needed. Needless to say, my per month download/streaming has gone up from 280 gigs.

    And it looks like Google is on track to build a giga shack just a block away from me in the next year..8)Hopefully, the numbers workout so I can have it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ofb2632 (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:43am

    Fraud? Extortion?

    OK, i know this is a giant company, but how is this not Fraud? They are stating you owe them money you don't. How is this not extortion? They are threatening to disconnect you from a service that is an integral part of life.
    I am not an attorney, so can someone explain why the heads responsible for the corporation are not being sued or put in jail? They are the Corporate version of the mafia.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Whatever (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:15am

      Re: Fraud? Extortion?

      Trying to turn a clerical error into a criminal case is insane. Back the rhetoric down about 99% and try your thought process again. Perhaps capital punishment for transposing a digit on your tax return is next?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ofb2632 (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:44am

        Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

        In my opinion, it stops being a 'clerical error' when its happening over and over. It becomes criminal when nothing is being done to fix it. When overcharging becomes the standard, its not a clerical error.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

        ...Again, intentionally overcharging for a service is fraud. In addition, there's a difference between a transposition error on a tax return and having the tax code change on you mid-file-resolution. It would be like me charging you $15,000 in fees because I was late in taking payment on my loan to you.

        It's insane that companies that have claimed utility funding (via the USF) are permitted to act as though they are not utility services.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 7:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

          Again, intentionally overcharging for a service is fraud.

          Show that it is intentional.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 9:02pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

            They were told that they were overcharging the customer, Comcast didn't care.
            The customer went public with the issue, now suddenly they care.

            If the customer tells you that your readings are wrong, and you ignore him right until he goes to the press with it... yeah, intentional or indifferent, take your pick.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 11:40pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

            "It's not my fault, the computer did it!" Seriously? You're going back to that excuse?

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        techflaws (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 10:40pm

        Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

        It's always amazing to see the absolute confidence with which you always side with the obivous a*holes of the story. Impressive.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Whatever (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 9:11am

          Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

          I am not on Comcasts side. Read my comments, I think they are wrong here. But I also think it's insanely two faced not to laugh at the guy for saying his wifi is secure, when it's common knowledge that it is not.

          Comcast are a*holes, no doubt about it - but slam them for something important, not for clerical errors or transposition of digits when entering a long code. That falls in "shit happens" and isn't a federal crime.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            JMT (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 12:55pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

            If you found out your water, electricity or gas bill was consistently higher than it should be because of inaccurate metering, you wouldn't be blithely saying "shit happens", and neither would regulators. Fines could well result. Explain to everyone why data should be treated differently. Why should our attitude to data metering be any different.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 29 Dec 2015 @ 2:10pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

              If you found out your water, electricity or gas bill was consistently higher than it should be because of inaccurate metering, you wouldn't be blithely saying "shit happens", and neither would regulators.

              I knew a guy who tried running that con on the power company. When he got his bill he would call them up and tell them the meter was wrong. They came out and replaced the meters for free a couple of times and didn't find anything wrong with them after they got them back. They finally told him that if they came out and replaced the meter again and didn't find anything wrong with it that they were going to charge him for it. He stopped that shit real quick.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Whatever (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 6:07pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

              You want to try to fix inaccurate metering. But I don't make a federal case out of it either. My first assumption isn't that the problem is attempted fraud or systemic scamming.

              Your attitude goes a long way towards either resolution or disconnection, I guess!

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • icon
                JMT (profile), 29 Dec 2015 @ 11:01pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Fraud? Extortion?

                "My first assumption isn't that the problem is attempted fraud or systemic scamming."

                You remember we're taking about Comcast right? While they may not quite reach the legal definitions of fraud or scams, their standard operating procedure seems to be to consistently deliver something different to what most customers reasonably expect. Proof of widespread inaccuracy in their data metering would surprise absolutely no-one, and they don't deserve the benefit of the doubt.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 12:17pm

    Nothing against the poor guy and huge kudos for being smarter than the average bear, but with his accent, maybe tech support thought that tech support was calling.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jeremy2020 (profile), 28 Dec 2015 @ 1:39pm

    It's easy to claim an error for one account to hide fraud on millions.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 28 Dec 2015 @ 2:11pm

      Re:

      It's easy to claim an error for one account to hide fraud on millions.

      It's easy to claim an error for one account to be fraud on millions.

      ftfy

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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