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telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:3

2 edits

[Bill] Comcast billing issue on the Consumerist site

An interesting article about another Comcast billing issue on the Consumerist site today:

XXXfinity: Either Comcast's Billing System Is Messed Up Or This Woman Really Loves Ordering Porn
The Consumerist - April 2, 2012
»consumerist.com/2012/04/either-c···orn.html

An excerpt:

"But one Comcast customer is being quite loud about the fact that she keeps having to ask the Kabletown folks to remove hundreds of dollars worth of pay-per-view porn items from her cable bill.

"I've lived here for 16 years and I've had Comcast as my provider ever since," the woman tells the New Star-Ledger's Bamboozled column. "I've always ordered regular pay-per-view movies, but I've never once ordered an adult film."

She says it all began late last year when she downgraded her cable package and had to swap out her three old receivers for a trio of new ones.

And then when she tried to order a non-porn movie a few weeks later, she found out she'd been blocked because her account had been maxed out [with porn video purchases].
:
Comcast said that though the orders appeared to have been placed via the customer's set-top box in her bedroom — which she promptly swapped out — it would credit her the $280.

They also walked her through the process of setting up a PIN for ordering purposes so that no random ghost could order hours of hardcore on her account.

But then, not even a month later, another attempt to watch something without vast amounts of naked flesh was thwarted because someone had ordered hundreds of dollars more in porn on her account.

"Either I'm here or I'm at the doctor's office," said the woman, who lives alone, "unless it's my cat who has an addiction to porn after I'm asleep at night.""



motorola870

join:2008-12-07
Arlington, TX
kudos:3

1 edit


old box still tied to her account given to another customer?



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:3

said by motorola870:

old box still tied to her account given to another customer?

That's what would make sense to me. That's why swapping out her current boxes doesn't solve the issue.


mikedz4

join:2003-04-14
Weirton, WV

that's funny. Wonder if the lady will win in small claims court.



Floppy

join:2002-07-03
reply to telcodad

Funny that little excerpt omits some other details:

Excerpt included:

"Comcast said that though the orders appeared to have been placed via the customer's set-top box in her bedroom — which she promptly swapped out — it would credit her the $280. They also walked her through the process of setting up a PIN for ordering purposes so that no random ghost could order hours of hardcore on her account. But then, not even a month later, another attempt to watch something without vast amounts of naked flesh was thwarted because someone had ordered hundreds of dollars more in porn on her account.Either I'm here or I'm at the doctor's office," said the woman, who lives alone, "unless it's my cat who has an addiction to porn after I'm asleep at night."

But doesn't include:

"Once again, Comcast gave her the benefit of a doubt and issued a credit for $550.59.Three new boxes were installed and the customer set up PINs on each of them. And then she gets the bill for $423.65 worth of new PPV porn.This time, Comcast was not so understanding and refused to issue a credit."

Everyone always says i don't order porn or my family doesn't. Bottom line orders were confirmed on 4 different boxes. Customer was educated by setting up a PIN code to prevent unauthorized purchases and miraculously porn was still ordered. She may might not have ordered porn however someone who has access to her home did.



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

should be a way to block it at the central office...


yhp

join:2006-12-27
Philadelphia, PA

said by AVD:

should be a way to block it at the central office...

They're clearly able to block PPV orders when a customer exceeds a maximum amount of billed $$ -- that's how she became aware of the problem each time it came up.

She's apparently not willing to block PPV entirely until this is sorted out, which is regrettable, since Comcast obstinately persists in allowing porn to be ordered to her last dime. She's only going to contest these things, but if she loses, she'll wish she had 86'ed PPV and signed up with netflix.


telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:3

1 recommendation

reply to Floppy

I really don't think that the woman is ordering the PPV herself.

If Comcast has verified that it is coming from one of her current boxes (and not from one of those old ones she originally swapped out), then here are some possibilities:

"One expert tells Bamboozled it wouldn't be all that difficult for a clever hacker to make it look like their massive porn purchases are being ordered through someone else's set-top box." A "cloned" box?

"... and her boyfriend was at his job, 45 minutes away, from 9 a.m. until 8:14 p.m." Could the boyfriend have stopped back at the apartment during that time?

Could one of their friends or a relative, the super, maintenance man or someone else that could have access to the apartment, be doing this?

One way to eliminate these last two possibilities would be to use a stealth "nanny cam" to record any unattended activity near that cable box. Who knows what it might catch - maybe it is the cat!



tshirt
Premium,MVM
join:2004-07-11
Snohomish, WA
kudos:4
Reviews:
·Comcast

said by telcodad:

....would be to use a stealth "nanny cam" to record any unattended activity near that cable box....

yet when the same technology is even hinted at for POSSIBLE home security, advertizing, or motion sensing (a la Kinnect) it is immedietly derided as " invasive, spying", or other such terms.
perhaps a password, along with the understanding that giving the password to ANYONE, is like giving them your credit card would be better.


AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

they set up a pin for her, and there is still activity...



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:3
reply to telcodad

OK, some more details on this case from the source article:

Bamboozled: Seeing red over blue-movie fees
The Star-Ledger of NJ, NJ.com - April 2, 2012
»www.nj.com/business/index.ssf/20···169.html

An excerpt (which seems to dismiss a lot of my possible explanations):

"Before taking on Hart's case, we had a host of questions about who has access to her home.

"I am the housekeeper, accountant and chef," she said. "I have no one that comes in."

She has no kids. No family members who come and go. She's not having construction at the home, so workers aren't in and out. Her boyfriend of nine years does have access, but he works a full-time job — including times when movies were ordered.

Upon our request, Hart gave us copies of telephone records and datebooks so we could compare Hart’s and her boyfriend’s locations during the times of the porn charges.

It seems there were plenty of times that Hart has evidence that no one was home, or that her boyfriend was working, when movies were ordered.

For example, there were unauthorized charges on Jan. 21 from 12:30 to 9:30 p.m. Cell phone records, datebook records and receipts show that on Jan. 21, Hart was at a 1:45 doctor’s appointment and her boyfriend was at his job, 45 minutes away, from 9 a.m. until 8:14 p.m.

We looked at many other dates, too.

If the skeptics among you think it has to be the boyfriend, consider this: If he’s been with Hart for nine years, why suddenly order porn for the first time? And even if it was him, after Hart discovered the January charges, why continue to order month after month?

Also, it’s customary for service providers to give customers a credit the first time an unexpected or possibly unauthorized charge appears on a bill. But if Comcast’s investigation determined the orders originated in the house, why credit Hart a second time?

We looked online for similar complaints and found many. Customers said they even unhooked their boxes for an entire month, but the porn charges continued to appear.

We took these questions to Comcast, and while it investigated, we talked to a few experts to see if it was technically possible for someone to hack into another customer’s digital system.

For starters, a simple Google search finds all kinds of ways to allegedly hack into cable boxes, but we’re not techies at heart. We asked the experts.

David Maloney, a security researcher at Rapid7, a security assessment company, said it’s hard to give a definitive answer without knowing the specs of Comcast’s system in that area.

Still, while Comcast said it identified which set-top box placed the orders, Maloney said that’s not a foolproof system.

"STBs are usually identified simply by the MAC (Media Access Control) address, which is easily spoofed," Maloney said.

He said spoofing a MAC address hides the actual hardware address, making it look like orders are coming from a different device.

Additionally, he said, many models of set-top boxes can be modified with new operating systems, giving attackers access.

He said companies often make the mistake of believing their STBs are known quantities and they fail to account for the possibility of them being modified.

"This can result in basic safeguards being neglected due to the mistaken assumption that an attacker could never get on that network," he said.

Maloney also said if a malicious user was able to spoof a request from an STB so it appeared that a request was coming from another STB, it would theoretically be possible to purchase programming and charge it to someone else.

Tech analyst Jeff Kagan also said a hack is possible. He said he’s heard these complaints for years, and not just about Comcast, but about all cable providers.

"It may be just like hackers on your computer. They can hack into networks at various points and they can take service," Kagan said. "(Cable companies) don’t talk about it because they don’t want everyone to know there is a problem.""


yhp

join:2006-12-27
Philadelphia, PA

Bamboozled: Seeing red over blue-movie fees
The Star-Ledger of NJ, NJ.com - April 2, 2012

Ah, so she has finally blocked all Comcast PPV. Good for her.

Next stop, netflix!

miscDude

join:2005-03-24
Hendersonville, NC
reply to telcodad

It sounds like something is definitely fishy here, but I'm not sure where the problem really lies.

I could potentially believe the hacker (cloned MAC address/box) theory, except for the fact she's swapped out the offending boxes multiple times and still had the charges appear. I find it highly unlikely that a hacker would manage to randomly end up with her box information multiple times after she swapped the boxes.

So based off this simple bit of logic, Assuming they aren't getting multiple reports of similar issues in the area, if it is indeed a hacker using cloned equipment, then it's going to have to be someone with some sort of access to her information. It's the only way they would be able to change their cloned equipment's dummy MAC to her new box... either someone who physically has access to her home to copy her new Box info (and knows when she swapped the box), or someone who has access to her account details on the Comcast side to know when the swap happened and the details on the new box given to her.

The same bit of logic with multiple box swaps and the same issue happening also hints against it being a random issue with the Comcast billing system applying PPV information from the old box to her account for some reason after being given to a new customer. (or her new box having stale information from a previous customer.).

I'm also going to just assume that after looking into it multiple times, and multiple box swaps, that Comcast isn't dealing with an account with incorrect boxes or crosslinked accounts. While the article doesn't state if the issues are related to impulse PPV or VOD PPV (Does any system really have any "non-porn" Impulse PPV anymore...except special events like Boxing, UFC, or Wrestling?), Pretty much outside of the billing system itself, everything uses the MAC address for authorizations and history. So once again the multiple box swap issue makes it more difficult to see a comcast billing system issue due to the PPV systems reporting the orders on the wrong account. (And if there was a back-end billing issue, it's highly likely it'd be impacting a lot more customer than just her)

So simply based off Occum's razor, At this point it's highly likely the issue is originating at the Customer's home. Now i'll give her the benefit of the doubt that she's not making the porn purchases, and I'll also be willing to believe based off the information provided that the BF isn't the culprit either. I wonder however if maybe there could be something to blame though like maybe a neighborhood kid sneaking into her house while the BF is at work and she isn't home and using her TV to watch some Porn?



telcodad

join:2011-09-16
Lincroft, NJ
kudos:3

said by miscDude:

I wonder however if maybe there could be something to blame though like maybe a neighborhood kid sneaking into her house while the BF is at work and she isn't home and using her TV to watch some Porn?

It then sounds like we're back to my suggestion about using a hidden "nanny cam" then.


mikedz4

join:2003-04-14
Weirton, WV
Reviews:
·Frontier Communi..
·Verizon Online DSL
·Comcast
reply to miscDude

maybe a family member comes over and orders it? Who knows maybe her boyfriend comes home on luch and watches it?

Personally I think comcast will credit her account one last time and setup her a new account with new everything including account number. Now if it continues after that then they need to just cancel her service.



Floppy

join:2002-07-03

said by mikedz4:

Personally I think comcast will credit her account one last time and setup her a new account with new everything including account number. Now if it continues after that then they need to just cancel her service.

They already credited her account over $800 it's highly unlikey they'll credit it again especially after numerous box swaps. The account number stays with the address so she won't get a new one unless she moves. If she disconnects and someone else activates service at the same address the account # the only digital(s) that will change would be the last one or two numbers of the account which is considered the occupancy number.

Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL
reply to miscDude

indemand does have some Impulse PPV (non pron) moives.

But most systems just have the pron / events channel. they did have some rugby world cup ppv games on the channels.

Some systems do have college football PPV.

Also I think Gameplan and full court have day rate ppv.

also I think the adult channels have Impulse buy for blocks of time.

Well in all of the swaps maybe there is a box that never got swaps and may not even be at house but may be still tied to the account.



mikedz4

join:2003-04-14
Weirton, WV
reply to Floppy

could they cancel her account?



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

my comcast vod has a whole selection of porn. Not sure if it is edited, but the same bang bros stuff that you can preview online.
--
--Standard disclaimers apply.--
google this "(sqrt(cos(x))*cos(200*x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)*(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(9-x^2), -sqrt(9-x^2)"



mikedz4

join:2003-04-14
Weirton, WV

who wants to watch softcore porn anyways. They don't show anything.
Better off getting if online.



AVD
Respice, Adspice, Prospice
Premium
join:2003-02-06
Onion, NJ
kudos:1

The titles are not softcore titles.

I've never watched them to verify that they aren't toned down, but would assumme they are not.

I'll try to get a screen cap tonight.
--
--Standard disclaimers apply.--
google this "(sqrt(cos(x))*cos(200*x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)*(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(9-x^2), -sqrt(9-x^2)"



mikedz4

join:2003-04-14
Weirton, WV

i've seen them before and they are. They don't show the guy doing his thing. They go to another scene.


yhp

join:2006-12-27
Philadelphia, PA
reply to Floppy

The account number stays with the address so she won't get a new one unless she moves.

And this is the customer's problem how, now?

(Just more of that first class service you can expect from Kabletown. "But we cannnn't give you a new account number. It's too harrrrd.")


Floppy

join:2002-07-03

said by yhp:

The account number stays with the address so she won't get a new one unless she moves.

And this is the customer's problem how, now?

(Just more of that first class service you can expect from Kabletown. "But we cannnn't give you a new account number. It's too harrrrd.")

Who said changing the account number would fix it? Bottom line the issue would still exist and wouldn't change a thing. New account number/new boxes w/same behavior/circumstances = disputed charges for adult movies with a different account number.

Here's her options:

A) she needs to convince Comcast to credit back the charges.
B) she needs to pay the bill or could be disconnected for non-payment or
C) win her case in court.
D) get disconnected by refusing to pay which will eventually be reported to a credit bureau.

yhp

join:2006-12-27
Philadelphia, PA

Who said changing the account number would fix it?

Doing it might provide important diagnostic information going forward - one could leave the old account number live as a honeypot, so to speak.

That is, if you're really interested in getting to the bottom of this. But with such wonderful tools at Comcast's disposal like blackening a customer's credit history, why bother with diagnostics and fixing your billing system?


Floppy

join:2002-07-03

Let me get this straight...adult movies ordered, multiple box swaps, parental control/pin codes are setup, credits of over $800 dollars given, yet movies are still being ordered constitutes a problem with the billing system?

It's apparently your hatred for Comcast has clouded your thought process.


yhp

join:2006-12-27
Philadelphia, PA

said by Floppy:

Let me get this straight...adult movies ordered, multiple box swaps, parental control/pin codes are setup, credits of over $800 dollars given, yet movies are still being ordered constitutes a problem with the billing system?

You're right, of course. I'm jumping to conclusions. It could be sucky security measures as well.

But yeah, any billing system where a customer's former box at a new address results in a ding for the old customer - something several people have admitted happens - then there's definitely a monkey wrench somewhere in that system and/or process that only rears its head under a combination of conditions.

Maybe if Comcast had some skin in the game - if they endured losses for their laziness instead of just turning disagreeing customers into credit risks - they'd, you know, get to the bottom of things.

Customer has already blocked PPV, so even she gets that you have to turn stuff off one by one to solve a problem like this.


adkinsjm

join:2004-10-13
Cuyahoga Falls, OH

When I worked for Dish Network, the story from customers was the same. "

"No one in my house ordered porn. My two college-aged boys would never order that!"
--
Former Comcast, DIRECTV, DISH, iProvo, and UTOPIA subscriber. Now with Blue Ridge Communications.


rody_44
Premium
join:2004-02-20
Quakertown, PA
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 edit
reply to telcodad

As a comcast tech. I probably had the pleasure to investigate about ten complaints where they denied ordering Ppv or VOD. My ratio was ten for ten where at the end the customer admitted ordering it. Usually it was a kid but sometimes it was a husband or boyfriend. One time a wife actually found out her husband was gay during it. Funny shit and true. Its amazing how people can lie over the phone and when you sit there looking them in the eyes explaining technical reasons why its impossible they just fess up.
I believe the only way to get unauthorized vod purchases is by going to your neighbors window and ordering it on their box and going home and watching it clear qam on your tv. PPV alone is a new ball of wax as technically with older box software you coukd order that and it be billed at a later date.



candes

join:2001-06-24
Pittsburgh, PA
reply to telcodad

This is an older thread, but thought I would reply for future customers with the same problem. Check the boxes on your account. Bet you have an extra. The same thing happened to me. And we went on vacation and the charges still kept piling up. Then they had the nerve to accuse my very religious 80 year old in laws that were feeding my cats! They are ruthless!

Anyways we were being charged for 2 boxes. But were provisioned for three. The installer was a bit of a perv and was hitting on me. Perhaps me turning him down (Um I am married...) made him decide to give someone free porn on my account.
--
Cecilia