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brianj6

join:2007-06-05
Atlanta, GA

[Connectivity] Contacted by Comcast Abuse Dept Today...

Just wanted to share my experience thus far with Comcast's Abuse Dept and offer some hope for legit problems.

First some background. I am a heavy internet user and have been for years. I download videos, aac/mp3/flac files, software, on a regular/daily basis. I stream music on my PC and Sonos sound system. I've also been doing all of this for years, at least the last 5 of which have been all with Comcast at my current house and prior house in the Atlanta metro area.

This morning I receieved a call from someone at Comcast's Abuse Team, who gave me I assume, the standard script. That I'd exceeded their Acceptable Use Policy by downloading over 600GB worth of data, that I could sign up for a business account at 10K install, $1500 month fee, etc. That if I didn't cut down my usage my service would be terminated in July.

After laughing really hard, literally, I did, couldn't help it. I asked if he was serious, was this a joke? Was he sure about the amount because that seemed like an awful lot of data, even for me. He was sure.

I asked how much was acceptable? He couldn't say.

I asked was there a report I could check to make sure I was lowering my usage. No there wasn't.

How was I to know if I was using it less enough for them? All he would say is that the AUP is for Comcast internet to be used for general residential, non-commercial use.

I asked his name, which he said when greeting me, but I'd ignored since I thought this was a sale type call. He would only give me "Abuse Team".

I asked to speak to a supervisor/manager, which he said wasn't possible, he was the only person to talk to.

I asked for a number to call, which he gave me the number to the Abuse Team dept.

He asked if I understood what he was saying, and I told him no that I didn't. I didn't understand how Comcast expected me to meet their requests without giving me some kind of number or at least a report I could check to see exactly how I was doing.

He asked again if I understood what he was saying, I said no and then asked him if the conversation was being recorded. He said he wouldn't tell me.

I tried explaining again, most likely by this point I'd raised my voice being a bit upset at this kind of customer UN-friendly service, and he simply asked again if I understood what he'd told me. Which I said again, no.

And the call was over.

Floored at what just transpired and baffled how I could have downloaded 600GB worth of info, I tossed on an app called NetMeter I found while googling this issue. And was very surprised to see my DL rate at something approaching 1.5GB an hour. I tried finding out just what was downloading that much info figuring I'd been hacked but couldn't locate anything. I then installed NetLimiter 2 Monitor. Using that I found out that an app I'd installed called TVTonic (www.tvtonic.com), which is a Windows MCE plug-in, had a background process constantly updating video stream data that I'd marked as "Favorites". Even when MCE or TVTonic was not running it was downloading this info keeping any feed I'd marked updated. I'd installed TVTonic a month or so ago just to check it out. Needless to say it came off immediately.

I called Comcasts Abuse Team back. Spoke to a different rep (I could tell by the accent), and explained to him what I found. Asked what re-course did I have to make sure my service was not terminated in July. Basically, none, was his reply. There is no appeals process, no manager to talk to, if you call regular support, they shunt you off to the Abuse Team. Once disconnected, nothing else can be done was his reply. He did sound a tad understanding and offered to put comments in my record that I believed I'd found why 600GB of data had been downloaded. But I could still appear on the end of month report as an abuser because, if my 1 hour sample was any indication, I'd already downloaded some 200-300GB worth of data since the current months billing/usage reports began. He also couldn't tell me how much data I'd download at this point, nor could I call them July 1 and find out if I was on the report.

Again, I explained how was it that Comcast thought a customer of theirs was suppose to comply with their request when only given one chance, have no hope of knowing if they are close or surpassing some arbitrary limit, etc. My only way of knowing would be come July if my connection continues to work or not.

Now, I don't like the changes that Comcast has made, but I understand them. What really has me upset is how they are going about implementing and enforcing them. One warning? No recourse? No manager? No reporting?

Anyway, after ending the call with the Abuse Team I fired off a letter to the VP/GM of my Comcast region (thank you Google!). Surprisingly, I received an e-mail response within the hour from the VP/GM, indicating he would investigate the matter, that he did not want to loose my business and would be in contact with me as soon as he had more info. Then provided me his direct numbers as well.

So I have a glimmer of hope...


Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast

1 recommendation

Like you, I understand what they are trying to do, and as a customer, I appreciate it. And like you, I agree, their entire way of going about this is.. well less than favorable. I have never been contacted by the abuse department (and I don't expect to, as my monthly usage on average is around 5-10GB), but those who have been contacted all make mention of the disrespectful and rude customer service agents.

I don't agree with making the "cap" known. By making it "known", it just forces Comcast to make the cap much lower since many will make sure they are just under it each month. But Comcast should really implement a bandwidth tracking page that allows customers to see their monthly bandwidth usage as Comcast sees it.

Glad to see you at least found out what was causing the excessive bandwidth usage.
--
YourIP.US - It's Your IP .. and more!
rr.cx - Personal Site.. coming soon.

pacamike

join:2007-06-05
Palo Alto, CA
reply to brianj6
Welcome to the top 1% club! I, too, got such a call today. The number he cited for me was 500 GB (the guy seemed to like saying "half a terabyte", and he said it several times). That sounded high (25% of theoretical max if the back of my envelope is right) 100 DVDs? Seems implausible to me, but of course I have no way of knowing.

I knew there was no point in arguing, so I just politely asked how I would be able to know what the number was, or if there was anything they recommend I use to monitor or limit my usage. The guy was clearly just working from a script, so he had no actual knowledge. He kept referring to the AUP (Acceptable Usage Policy), but he couldn't tell me any particular part of it that might apply to my situation. He wouldn't or couldn't tell me if this month was a lot higher than previous months, or if since they got rid of the people higher than me, they just reached my level.

I guess it's cheaper for them to harrass and drop customers than it is to manage their networks. They could use traffic shaping and throttling to keep heavy users from negatively impacting other users, but that would require people who understood how to configure that fancy network equipment they bought. They could offer tools for people to see and control their usage, but that would mean treating their customers with respect.

I've been looking for an excuse to drop Comcast, so this gives me another one. I hope they don't decide I'm watching too much TV next week!

brianj6

join:2007-06-05
Atlanta, GA
reply to Rob
Like you said, I do understand what they are trying to do and their reasons. High bandwidth users can impact negatively the experience for other users due to the shared bandwidth aspects of cable internet access.

But I'm not sure I share your point of view about not publishing the caps. Using your argument for not publishing caps, would you also then be in favor of your cell phone company, of course I'm assuming you have a cell phone, letting you know that have surpassed their acceptable use based on total minutes used, but never gave you the total number of minutes you are allowed to use? High volume callers can take up valuable cell tower space, thus possibly preventing other, low-volume, users from accessing the cell network when they want.

But published caps or not, had they a mechanism for me to check my bandwidth, such as the tracking page you mention, I might have seen the excessive consumption much sooner and realized something was amiss. In an even better world Comcast would have an early warning alert system that pro actively notified customers when their usage patterns deviated from past patterns and maybe also from the average customer profile. In addition, having a much better abuse resolution process that allows for one to address a situation as I found myself in today would be a tremendously improvement over the one-warning, no appeal, process in place today.

brianj6

join:2007-06-05
Atlanta, GA
reply to pacamike
pacamike, I agree, proper management of the network via traffic shaping and so forth seems like a much better way of addressing the issue. Their current Abuse Team process could be a temporary solution for them to get control of a growing problem until such time as a technical solution can be properly implemented. Who knows. Eventually though, unless the magic cap is always growing, enough of their users, due to increased HD Movie/TV consumption over the internet, will be getting calls like we have gotten. At which point something will have to give. Sorta like the Federal Alternative Minimum Tax. Seems like a good idea at the time it was implemented, but long term it is, arguably, not the best solution.


Rob
In Deo speramus.
Premium
join:2001-08-25
Kendall, FL
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Comcast
reply to brianj6
said by brianj6:

But published caps or not, had they a mechanism for me to check my bandwidth, such as the tracking page you mention, I might have seen the excessive consumption much sooner and realized something was amiss. In an even better world Comcast would have an early warning alert system that pro actively notified customers when their usage patterns deviated from past patterns and maybe also from the average customer profile. In addition, having a much better abuse resolution process that allows for one to address a situation as I found myself in today would be a tremendously improvement over the one-warning, no appeal, process in place today.
Absolutely agree. Unfortunately Comcast doesn't want to invest into any service that actually allows the customer to 1) monitor their bandwidth usage and 2) Have any evidence to dispute any claims by the abuse department. I'm sure if you presented them with your netmeter logs, they would reply that it isn't accurate and only their secret and non-public logs are accurate.

It's not a fair game. Comcast can't have their cake and eat it too. Eventually they'll mess with the wrong subscriber who will make a big stink about it and will force Comcast to reevaluate their abuse department and procedures.
--
YourIP.US - It's Your IP .. and more!
rr.cx - Personal Site.. coming soon.

APG
Premium
join:2007-01-13
reply to brianj6
said by brianj6:

pacamike, I agree, proper management of the network via traffic shaping and so forth seems like a much better way of addressing the issue.
I disagree. Traffic shaping implies that every bit of a certain kind of traffic is throttled. By why penalize someone who occasionally downloads a Linux distribution via P2P because someone else is going 24/7 on p2p pirating?

I still think the so-called "invisible" cap isn't so invisible. I don't know this for a fact, but I still think it's more a matter of, "moving this much traffic means something's wrong. Either you're violating the AUP, or you've got a rogue program running you're not aware of." And Comcast -- or any other ISP -- isn't going to figure it out for the user. There's still a matter of personal responsibility... if a person is going to connect their computer to the internet, they ought to know what it's doing. And, if it is an AUP violation, the ISP isn't going to say, "If you cut your violation down by half, then that's okay."

Let's look it at it this way... imagine a person is called in for an IRS audit. The examiner sees the person drive up in a $70,000 car... while claiming an income of $5,000 a year. If the person is just borrowing the car from a friend (that is, uses it once in awhile) no one's going to care. But if the person is always using that car... there's going to be questions. And the IRS isn't going to say, "If the next time you come here, you're driving a $44,999 car, it's okay... but if you're driving a $45,000 car, we're going to investigate."
Expand your moderator at work


JTRockville
Data Ho
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-28
Rockville, MD
reply to brianj6

Re: [Connectivity] Contacted by Comcast Abuse Dept Today...

said by brianj6:

...Their current Abuse Team process could be a temporary solution for them to get control of a growing problem until such time as a technical solution can be properly implemented...
The first report (in this forum) of Comcast's dreadful bandwidth policy was August 2003: »Comcast Bandwidth Exceeded Notice!!!

4 years is an awfully long time for a "temporary" solution.


jjoshua
Premium
join:2001-06-01
Scotch Plains, NJ
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS

2 recommendations

reply to brianj6
We have got to come up with a "dumb user doesn't know what bandwidth is" script.

Abuse: You downloaded 600GB.
You: I don't understand. I only have the 8mb package. I don't have the 600GB package.
Abuse: You are violating our AUP.
You: I don't understand. Do I need to reboot my cable modem?
Abuse: You are going to be disconnected if you don't lower your usage.
You: I don't understand. Sometimes when I check my email, my computer hangs. Could that be the problem?


CableTool
Poorly Representing MYSELF.
Premium
join:2004-11-12
reply to JTRockville
said by JTRockville:

said by brianj6:

...Their current Abuse Team process could be a temporary solution for them to get control of a growing problem until such time as a technical solution can be properly implemented...
The first report (in this forum) of Comcast's dreadful bandwidth policy was August 2003: »Comcast Bandwidth Exceeded Notice!!!

4 years is an awfully long time for a "temporary" solution.
Im not sure how people STILL dont understand its SHARED BANDWIDTH. 600gb suddenly is less of a shared network and more of an abused network.
The "technical solution" is to reinvent the internet. You can go to DSL where is isnt shared.. at least to the switch but every foot away from the CO you are the less of that precious bandwidth through speed you have.
This is the technology, this is how it works, this is how to keep it working and this is how to be as fair as possible to the 21million customers that subscribe to it and ensure it is there to be used. Not abused.
I dont agree with the process, but I understand it 100% and know why it is in place. Business wise it makes sense. Perfect sense.
And after all... its a business.
--
CableFAQ.org/Technicians Unplugged


JTRockville
Data Ho
Premium,MVM
join:2002-01-28
Rockville, MD

1 recommendation

Why do you think people don't understand the problem?

It's Comcast's draconian solution, delivered by the most surly of personnel, that is the puzzle. Of all the ways to approach the problem, Comcast chose the most unsavory.

This is a piss-poor network management technique.


paco

@comcast.net

3 recommendations

Yet another one of "these" threads


hobgoblin
Sortof Agoblin
Premium
join:2001-11-25
Orchard Park, NY
kudos:11
reply to JTRockville
said by JTRockville:

Why do you think people don't understand the problem?

It's Comcast's draconian solution, delivered by the most surly of personnel, that is the puzzle. Of all the ways to approach the problem, Comcast chose the most unsavory.

This is a piss-poor network management technique.
I think as hard as anyone might try any discussion involving this delicate subject causes confrontation. Its gonna happen. Comcast clearly don't want to handhold people through a shut off process and I agree with that decision.

Its gotta be a tough job.....and despite the OP who may have had other issues..most people know the score.

Hob
--
"A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson


TOPDAWG
Premium
join:2005-04-27
Calgary, AB
kudos:3
Reviews:
·TekSavvy DSL

1 recommendation

What score? Comcast has no score that is the issue. Some people can bust 300GB a month with no issue while others hit 200GB and get a call and the comcast reps won't tell them how much to cut back.

I pay for my net so yes I'm going to use it to it's fullest. Now if the fullest comcast wants to offer is 200GB a month then that is what I'll be using. At least give a basic number to people.

It would be the same as getting stopped by a cop who said you were speeding when no speeds are posted.


KrK
Heavy Artillery For The Little Guy
Premium
join:2000-01-17
Tulsa, OK
reply to brianj6
Yep, seems there's an issue with TvTonic. You're not alone. Some posts on the internet are popping up about TVTonic causing people to exceed their bandwidth caps.

Apparently there's a bug where if space is low, a download will fail, and then TVTonic will then start redownloading it again in an endless loop. That will eat your bandwidth really fast.

Check this thread for more info.

»www.tvtonic.com/forum/viewtopic.···32f5a07b
--
"Regulatory capitalism is when companies invest in lawyers, lobbyists, and politicians, instead of plant, people, and customer service." - former FCC Chairman William Kennard (A real FCC Chairman, unlike the current Corporate Spokesperson in the job!)


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC
reply to CableTool
said by CableTool:

You can go to DSL where is isnt shared.. at least to the switch but every foot away from the CO you are the less of that precious bandwidth through speed you have.
Actually, as deployed by most providers, there are discrete steps. For AT&T they are (approximately):
5,000 feet, max, for 6016kpbs
10,000 feet, max, for 3008kbps
15,000 feet, max, for 1536kbps

Barring plant problems, you should be good for those max speeds at those distances.

They won't hook up up if you are farther out than 15,000 feet, or so.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum


Dagda1175

join:2001-06-17
Goleta, CA
reply to TOPDAWG
said by TOPDAWG:

It would be the same as getting stopped by a cop who said you were speeding when no speeds are posted.
Of course that is perfectly legal, they can write you a ticket for going faster than is safe under current conditions.


NormanS
I gave her time to steal my mind away
Premium,MVM
join:2001-02-14
San Jose, CA
kudos:12
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
·Pacific Bell - SBC
reply to TOPDAWG
said by TOPDAWG:

It would be the same as getting stopped by a cop who said you were speeding when no speeds are posted.
I hate car analogies. California has a speed law to cover the case where none is posted. The Basic Speed law, which has something about "reasonable and prudent". You can be cited for excessive speed when there is no posted speed limit. I presume most other states have similar.

Please...find a better analogy.
--
Norman
~Oh Lord, why have you come
~To Konnyu, with the Lion and the Drum


Morty7
Premium
join:2004-09-18

1 recommendation

reply to Rob
said by Rob:

but those who have been contacted all make mention of the disrespectful and rude customer service agents.
They're not customer service agents... that should be the clear thing, they are in the abuse department, they have the power and the authority to shut your service off. They're not service reps, you can't tell them off and still expect them to try and keep you as a customer. If they're contacting you, it's because you're creating a problem for other customers, and the company.


RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to JTRockville
Funny thing is that it would be relatively easy for them to set up the same system some hosting companies have to enable their customers to avoid nasty over-use charges on hosting packages. Set the soft limiter at some reasonable value and have it shoot off an email to you when it's hit. This would, of course, require them to share that precious "abuse" data with the folks paying for service.

Instead of fugly, inane portal nonsense nobody uses, provide some "service" as in Internet SERVICE Provider. Enabling your customers to self-police effectively has got to be cheaper than hiring malcontents and sociopaths to call them up and threaten them.

--
Toolmaster of La Grange.


Morty7
Premium
join:2004-09-18
Most people abusing the limit don't use their isp's email...

Squidii

join:2004-06-30
Little Rock, AR
reply to jjoshua
said by jjoshua:

We have got to come up with a "dumb user doesn't know what bandwidth is" script.

Abuse: You downloaded 600GB.
You: I don't understand. I only have the 8mb package. I don't have the 600GB package.
Abuse: You are violating our AUP.
You: I don't understand. Do I need to reboot my cable modem?
Abuse: You are going to be disconnected if you don't lower your usage.
You: I don't understand. Sometimes when I check my email, my computer hangs. Could that be the problem?

Good one.

You: Do I need to clear my cookies? Are they taking up space?


RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2

1 edit
reply to Morty7
said by Morty7:

Most people abusing the limit don't use their isp's email...
So? You have proof of that I suppose? How about those who don't even know it's happening, like the OP here?

--
Toolmaster of La Grange.


Morty7
Premium
join:2004-09-18
Take it or leave it.

pacamike

join:2007-06-05
Palo Alto, CA
reply to APG
said by APG:

Let's look it at it this way... imagine a person is called in for an IRS audit. The examiner sees the person drive up in a $70,000 car... while claiming an income of $5,000 a year. If the person is just borrowing the car from a friend (that is, uses it once in awhile) no one's going to care. But if the person is always using that car... there's going to be questions. And the IRS isn't going to say, "If the next time you come here, you're driving a $44,999 car, it's okay... but if you're driving a $45,000 car, we're going to investigate."
Imagine the IRS called you up and told you that you hadn't paid enough taxes. They refused to tell you how much you should pay or how much other people paid, but if you didn't send them enough additional money they'd put you in jail. Sorry, these are stupid analogies.

I'm a Comcast customer, paying for a service. If they don't want customers who use more than X GB per month, they should say what the limit is and provide a tool to tell you what you use. There are companies that manage this for webhosting, newsgroups, video streaming, and other internet services with no problem.

Comcast was marginally better than the alternatives when I started with them two years ago. However, I have no way to avoid exceeding an unknown limit, so their threat to terminate my contract if I do is unnacceptable. I won't be a Comcast customer next week.


RadioDoc
Premium,ExMod 2000-03
join:2000-05-11
La Grange, IL
kudos:2
reply to Morty7
If that's the best you can do, then definitely "leave it".
--
Toolmaster of La Grange.


gilligun
Shipwrecked
Premium
join:2002-11-22
Denver, CO
reply to brianj6
Going back to the speed limit anology from a few posts ago..........
One thing you need to remember about the Basic speed law...........There was still a posted speed limit.
Also I have yet to see the Internet affect traction or braking distance as the powers that be are concerned about in this law.
The more of this I read the more I dont like the idea of "Mystery Caps" or Logans Run--ning downloads.
But if you really want to piss em' off, dont pay.
They hate that
--
Why do I have long hair?? It covers my bald spot!


Morty7
Premium
join:2004-09-18

1 edit

1 recommendation

reply to RadioDoc
said by RadioDoc:

If that's the best you can do, then definitely "leave it".
Not the best, I just don't have time to waste explaining everything I know and somehow provide absolute proof of everything.. wish I did still, but those days are long gone. If that means my input to these forums is not valuable to anyone.. then I won't bother posting.


ilurker

@shawcable.net
reply to brianj6
The reason there are no download caps is Comcast does not invoke AUP unless they're causing a problem for that node. While one guy might be okay at 300Gb, another guy might be adversely affecting service with the same amount of traffic.