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Suddenlink Suspends Overages
Will Bring in Third Party to Test System
by Karl Bode 06:21PM Monday Aug 27 2012 Tipped by telcodad See Profile
Last week we pointed out that for months Suddenlink has been charging users usage overages despite a constant stream of complaints by those users that the meters they're using aren't accurate. Users have consistently reported phantom usage that doesn't match their own logs, even in instances when the power is out. After our story last week Suddenlink defended their meter to the press, insisting that their own tests have "found that our meter is consistently accurate."

Click for full size
A few days later and the company appears to be not quite as certain.

Suddenlink now tells Light Reading that after a review of some of the storm-related discrepancies we noted, they did apparently find problems with their meter's accuracy. As a result they're temporarily suspending their overage systems, giving users refunds, and bringing in a third party to test their meter accuracy. The company is providing the following statement on the matter:
quote:
Recently, a customer informed us that the Internet usage we measure is generally consistent with the usage he measures, with a major exception on a particular day. Because we take such questions seriously, we spent time analyzing the related information and circumstances, which included severe weather in the customer’s area and a temporary service outage.

We concluded that our measurement of this customer’s usage on the day in question was, in fact, inaccurate, although it did not result in the customer being billed.

Furthermore, while this customer was not billed and while the evidence indicates the situation was unusual, we value the relationship we have with our customers and want there to be no room for doubt about the integrity of our program. For those reasons, we will:
• Issue credits to the accounts of the relatively small number of customers billed through this program to date
• Waive future charges until we correct the cause of the inaccuracy and have our measurement system reviewed and validated across the board by a trusted third party.
While that's great that Suddenlink is issuing refunds for potentially-nonexistent usage, the fact remains that many North American ISPs (Rogers, Cogeco, AT&T) have rushed toward the overage model with dollar signs in their eyes without first ensuring their system worked properly. While Suddenlink plays this off as an isolated incident, threads in our forums suggest it's not so isolated.

The fact also remains that "trusted third parties" hired by the company doing the billing shouldn't be confirming meter accuracy, regulators should be. If ISPs want to bill like utilities, they should be regulated like utilities. Unfortunately regulators like the FTC and FCC remain utterly comatose at the consumer protection wheel.

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Os

join:2011-01-26
US

But they won't learn

This just proves how hard it is, and how much money it really takes to do all this. And that doesn't even take in the added CSR's to deal with angry customers.

It's not quite the cash cow they envisioned, but you don't see Suddenlink just giving up yet, of course.

gatorkram
Need for Speed
Premium
join:2002-07-22
Winterville, NC
kudos:3
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Re: But they won't learn

Considering they say, only about %1 of their userbase hit these numbers, I don't think they expect it to be a cash cow. More like it's their plan to keep everyones usage down, thus investments go further.

Thats my take on the whole overage thing. That and trying to kill off internet video.
--
What the heck is a GatorKram? »www.gatorkram.com
Os

join:2011-01-26
US

Re: But they won't learn

More like kill internet video and force you into subscribing to their cable.

It's their way to make sure you pay for their cable no matter what you do. Even if you'd rather go with a satellite dish.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: But they won't learn

lol. if you say so.

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

1 recommendation

said by gatorkram:

Considering they say, only about %1 of their userbase hit these numbers...

If you can't trust some of their numbers, all of their numbers become suspect.

Gaff
Just like the gypsy woman said

join:1999-09-05
North TX, US
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Patient zero

As the customer in question, I am glad to see Suddenlink temporarily suspend the overage charges.

As the story states, if they want to bill like utilities then they should be regulated as utilities, with all of the hoop-jumping and protections that this would guarantee for customers.

I have asked Suddenlink to consider abandoning their overage program as they consider its future in light of today's events.
--
My PC Gaming Blog
»www.gaffonline.com
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: Patient zero

and when they are regulated like gas and water- you watch your bill go up just like those as well. And you do realize that many of those poviders still do what ever they want as the PUCs are in their back pocket.
AricBrown

join:2002-12-11
Amarillo, TX
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

Re: Patient zero

said by 25139889:

and when they are regulated like gas and water- you watch your bill go up just like those as well. And you do realize that many of those poviders still do what ever they want as the PUCs are in their back pocket.

Actually no... I use 1000 kw of electricity I am billed for it.. Same with water and gas... Cell phone minutes too...

But not data on the intertubes
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY

will customers pay?

when customers get hit with unexpected high bills, they will cancel their service leaving a bill in collections rather than pay hundreds to a greedy ISP..

norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI

Re: will customers pay?

said by tmc8080:

when customers get hit with unexpected high bills, they will cancel their service leaving a bill in collections rather than pay hundreds to a greedy ISP..

and have toasted credit. Forget applying for a job, renting a car,renting a APT or house,buying a house and the like. The cable company WILL prevail.
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH

Re: will customers pay?

for one- not all companies check credit- its a very very rare thing they do- unless you work for a bank or handle huge amounts of cash and i know many companies that do not- Wal-Mart, Target, Krogers, Barns & Noble and the list goes on that do NOT touch credit reports, they only reserve the right to.

as far as a cable company reporting to credit- LMAO! That costs $$$$ they won't do that. They just make sure you never get service in that area again. Especially TWC. You can owe TWC Dayton money but go to TWC Mid-Ohio or NY and get services without a problem.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS
said by norbert26:

said by tmc8080:

when customers get hit with unexpected high bills, they will cancel their service leaving a bill in collections rather than pay hundreds to a greedy ISP..

and have toasted credit. Forget applying for a job, renting a car,renting a APT or house,buying a house and the like. The cable company WILL prevail.

While I won't list all all of the things a consumer can do.. one of them is challenge false and misleading billing.. when in dispute, they HAVE to take it off your credit report or you can SUE the creidt bureau AND the cable company.

Also, it's doubtful a cable company can ruin your life for a bill less that $1k... Most cable companies are not like the worst of the credit card companies (aka American Express).

Lastly, this metered billing will eventually blow up in the cable companies face because consumers will backlash against it and stop buying services from them. Bits of data are not like gasoline, providers can't gouge just because they feel like it and get away with it for an extended period of time, just watch (what happens). BTW, we're talking about wired services.. don't claim the duopoly in Cellco is a fair comparison, because it is not.. wireline has more regional companies and much more government oversight than wireless telecom (on the residentail consumer level).
dgoner
Premium
join:2002-03-08
Knox, IN
Metered billing for broadband is so draconian. If ISP's don't want to budge on getting rid of caps then a much better system is the bucket of bits then throttling. For instance if the cap is 200 GB why not just throttle any user that exceeds that cap within a given month to barely broadband speeds. You can even group the speed drops based on thresholds... 0-200 GB full speed, 250-300 GB 1/4 speed, 300 GB + dial up speed. It accomplishes their goal... Network use is eased and the customer doesn't have to fear a large bill at the end of the month. If I had to live with a cap system (I prefer none) then that is the type of system I'd feel most comfortable with.
Wilsdom

join:2009-08-06

Re: will customers pay?

Throttling back to dial-up isn't much different than a complete shutoff on the modern web, but speed reductions could make sense... if congestion was what the bandwidth rationing was really about, and not those sweet large bills at the end of the month
Joe12345678

join:2003-07-22
Des Plaines, IL

Re: will customers pay?

they can make it like 250gb full speed data and then after that pay more or get slowed down.
Jowmu

join:2009-05-04
Lubbock, TX
why is any company, that is doing business to MAKE money, always called the "greedy xxxx(fill in the blank)xxxx company? So I guess capitalism is just based on greed. Some of you guys must be part of the OWS crowd. sheesh.
tmc8080

join:2004-04-24
Brooklyn, NY
Reviews:
·ooma
·Optimum Online
·Verizon FiOS

1 recommendation

Re: will customers pay?

said by Jowmu:

why is any company, that is doing business to MAKE money, always called the "greedy xxxx(fill in the blank)xxxx company? So I guess capitalism is just based on greed. Some of you guys must be part of the OWS crowd. sheesh.

greed, captialism, free markets.. these are just terms..
apparently you've been napping a decade or more... massive deregulation and overt changes to the national and global economies have put new kinds of ideas in the heads of people who run corporations.. and they have now become an enemy of the consumer in many, many ways.. SOME more than others..

profits are one thing.. OBSCENE profits are quite another. take the world record profits of OIL companies as a prime example. well, if OIL companies can do it.. why not telecom, why not cell phone companies, insurance companies, government, all pile in grabbing that last dollar and ... the lowly workers? can't get fair compensation for a fair days work... that is OBSCENE... and policies like USAGE BASED BILLING go right to the heart of the matter.. when the costs are getting lower, prices seem to go higher unjustiably so.. when prices on phone service and video service go higher, you have choices.. when your monopoly & duopoly ISP goes up? you're gonna be stuck stringing your own can of fiber (and that's IF they let you)... 'cause there aint' no other choice..

The internet was founded by government and then handed over to for profit businesses to resell to residential and business customers. If ISPs think they can turn data into a slot machine or a gasoline pump and rig pricing so they can earn record "OBSCENE" profits.. government regulation has an answer for that eventually.. and so do consumers.

treichhart

join:2006-12-12

time to setup pfsense

time to setup pfsense to make sure your not getting screwed over on your cap and see how much your really using instead of there meter.
Cobra11M

join:2010-12-23
Mineral Wells, TX

Re: time to setup pfsense

said by treichhart:

time to setup pfsense to make sure your not getting screwed over on your cap and see how much your really using instead of there meter.

my router has bandwidth monitoring already but i did see suddenlink to be incosistent even though i never did go over.., now im gearing up to use all the bandwidth i can before they fix the prob, that way all my stuff is in the cloud... and not have to worry about it

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: time to setup pfsense

said by Cobra11M:

now im gearing up to use all the bandwidth i can before they fix the prob

Just to nitpick, but they said that they would be waiving future charges until they find and fix the problem. They don't say anything about future charges for overages that weren't affected by the issue.
Cobra11M

join:2010-12-23
Mineral Wells, TX

Re: time to setup pfsense

haha I know, I was being hopefull , haha I for one did see probs with my router count vs their meters to.. and never had a power outage.., gotta love suddenly disconnected haha
25139889

join:2011-10-25
Toledo, OH
and 9 out of 10 providers will tell you too bad with your numbers.
jdmm72

join:2002-02-12
Nitro, WV
Reviews:
·Suddenlink

1 edit

I am the customer in question!!!

I was metered for 14GB on a day my house did not even have electricity, nor did their headend serving me. Also, I was not home, and it was not aggregate from the prior week, as I was on vacation the prior week. We had the derecho come through here and knock everything out in WV, setting us back a few years to the stone age. Yet on Saturday, while I was returning from Myrtle Beach, I miraculously used 14 GB of data, and the power was off most of the day at my house, evidenced by my ddns url being unreachable, phone ringing busy (I have SL telephone) and logmein showing my computer offline. My line monitor group also showed when the connection came back up that evening (we were lucky as we were only without power for a day).

I now use PRTG (on an ancient laptop) to monitor netflow from my Cisco router, and I have to admit, so far other than the powerless day, SL's meter jives pretty much with what PRTG tells me, maybe even a little less than what PRTG says.
firedrakes

join:2009-01-29
Arcadia, FL

Re: I am the customer in question!!!

that was funny!. greed does bit you in the but
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

AT some point...

Wouldn't it be cheaper to split some nodes here and there instead of this BS? Or just build the whole system for the future with 100 customer nodes, SDV, 1ghz, and 8-channel D3?
Wilsdom

join:2009-08-06

Re: AT some point...

Making money is complicated and requires innovation. For example, consolidate the nodes: one node per region is much more efficient. Meters have trouble billing by the gigabyte, so bill by the bit! (I know, it's amazing you didn't think of something so obvious) If everyone just sticks together and hunts down the bandwidth hoarders we can do this!

cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

Re: AT some point...

said by Wilsdom:

Meters have trouble billing by the gigabyte, so bill by the bit! (I know, it's amazing you didn't think of something so obvious)

Wouldn't that be like saying it's hard to measure by the mile so we'll start measuring by the foot (or inch)?

motorola870

join:2008-12-07
Arlington, TX
kudos:3
said by Wilsdom:

Making money is complicated and requires innovation. For example, consolidate the nodes: one node per region is much more efficient. Meters have trouble billing by the gigabyte, so bill by the bit! (I know, it's amazing you didn't think of something so obvious) If everyone just sticks together and hunts down the bandwidth hoarders we can do this!

no combining nodes is not efficient and never will as you are loading to many subscribers on to a single node which two previously served. There is a reason for nodes splits not node combines more bandwidth with a split not a combine.

motorola870

join:2008-12-07
Arlington, TX
kudos:3
said by BiggA:

Wouldn't it be cheaper to split some nodes here and there instead of this BS? Or just build the whole system for the future with

SDV would be smart as well as 1GHz upgrades to all of Suddenlink's 550MHz and 450MHz systems. SDV would be a priority for 750MHz and 860MHz systems while 450MHz and 550MHz systems get a 1GHz upgrade and go all digital. This is how I would run Suddenlink no system below 750MHz and in some cases 750MHz systems would go to 1GHz if bandwidth needs were not met at 750MHz.

TWC in my area is running a 860MHz system with:

8 VOD QAM channels
6 DOCSIS channels
24 SDV QAM channels

The system I am on was previously 750MHz which was partially rebuilt to 750MHz and partially retrofitted to 750MHz now it has been completely upgraded to 860MHz with some old 450MHz magnavox housings with upgraded gear in them and the rest of the stuff is either 870MHz motorola or 1GHz motorola with Aurora, Motorola, and Harmonics nodes that are 870MHz or 1GHz.
BiggA

join:2005-11-23
EARTH

Re: AT some point...

Comcast went all 860, triple-channeled the HD, and dumped analog, but they don't use SDV. I'd rather have non-re-compressed HD on a 1ghz system with SDV, but I guess we can't have everything...

1ghz doesn't help too much on the video side, as only some VOD can go up past 860, due to some cable boxes and third party tuners not going past 860, but if you move 8 DOCSIS channels up there, and only leave one south of 860 (for D2), it would help quite a bit. If you split the nodes to the point where there are less than ~100 home on each one, you could make everything except Clear QAM and expanded basic in SD (for DTAs) SDV, which could save a lot of bandwidth.

You also save on congestion on the VOD and DOCSIS sides of things, and can do more HD on demand. Basically, the farther you push the nodes out, the more and more it becomes equivalent to FTTH without actually having to install the fiber in everyone's houses. Or even if you have multiple nodes co-located together with the coax going off in different directions...

astrob0I

@rr.com

Hypermiling for cable.

Remember the hypermiling craze? When gas went over four bucks lots of people got curious about extreme techniques for saving gas. What is to prevent the same mentality if and when caps become a problem? How many people will edit web pages drastically with ad and element blockers thereby saving the download bandwidth of ads, toolbars, annoying non-content clutter. And how will companies with a big interest in you seeing that clutter react? Sure, I realise that this is a tiny fraction of the bandwidth. But hyper-downloading will stress that "a bit here, a bit there" and eventually you have a saving. A the customer will at least have the feeling that he is doing something about his problem.

A suppose it will also be back to downloading divx and low res versions of non-critical newsgroup content and good-bye to 1080 mkv files. Maybe just as well. They never play the sound in sync anyway.

iknewit

@suddenlink.net

I was gouged by Suddenlink

Literally a couple days after the caps were instituted in my area, I received not 1 BUT 2 notices in a 24 hour period stating I had used over 250 gigs, which I knew to be impossible.

I don't do heavy downloading, and my network is very secure, so I knew there had to be an issue with this new gouging system that SL put into place.

Its shameful, it really is. It also makes it hard to trust this company after something like this. I will be looking for a new carrier, and if others have a choice to do so, I encourage them to do the same.

I refuse to reward shady business practices with my hard earned dollars.