FOIA request reveals more than 13,000 complaints related to Comcast’s data caps have been filed with the FCC so far.
When Comcast announced their intention to charge their customers overage fees for bandwidth overage, the people who keep them in business rightfully expressed outrage. Their fury over this injustice is entirely understandable.
After all, even Comcast executives cannot offer any rationale for the decision. Internal company documents recently leaked, and they show that network congestion isn’t a factor in the price gouging, either. Simply stated, Comcast’s choice to punish power users is 100 percent financially driven. It’s a cheap way to bleed some cash out of cord cutters.
Given all the recent revelations that support this conclusion, Comcast should be performing damage control, but the corporation considers itself too powerful for that. They wouldn’t “win” so many competitions as the Most Hated Company in America if they cared what customers thought. The power brokers of the cable industry believe that they can charge whatever they want for internet access because people can’t function effectively in society without it.
This corporate arrogance – some would say malfeasance – has driven many broadband users to the breaking point. At best, the choices for internet service are oligopoly-sized; at worst, a monopoly exists. How can customers expect their viable complaints to be taken seriously if they have no leverage?
Yes, stopping service is a possibility, but these shameless cable carriers are correct that the overwhelming majority of people need internet. So, the businesses have no compunctions about abusing the good will of their customers. The consumers do have one more trick up their sleeve, though. They can complain to the government, and they have been.
Angry Customers Vent Their Frustrations to the FCC
In the days that followed Comcast’s vile announcement about bandwidth gouging fees, we filed a Freedom of Information Act request. We wanted to see just how many people, if any, had filed complaints with the FCC regarding the Comcast data cap issue. The documents the government provided demonstrate than an angry citizenry feels pushed beyond the limits by the worst corporation in America.
We were told that more than 13,000 complaints had already been filed with the Federal Communications Commission that fit our search criteria about Comcast’s unethical practice of imposing data caps. Due to the time it would take to process all 13,000+ of these complaints, we weren’t able to get our hands on all of these complaints, but we did obtain just under 2,000complaints filed since Comcast started rolling out the caps. We’ve scanned these complaints and documented some of the most salient points below. We’ve also attached the complete list of complaints we received at the end of this article for viewing.
A customer from Murfreesboro, Tennessee notes:
“I do not see how Comcast is allowed to change their plans to charge and target users that consume media in this form. The details of my home internet plan have been switched, without my approval or input, to a cap of 300GB per month with an additional automatic $10 charge for every 50GB of data over that.”
This person is absolutely correct in theory but not in execution. As loathsome as the practice is, a company CAN change their terms of service likes without authorization. They possess the ability to perform a right to revise. When such a situation transpires, customers have the right to cancel immediately, even when under contract. That’s because the other party has voided the contract you signed. So, you do have some new found privileges in such instances, but you have to cede your internet service in the process.
Of course, that’s not even the biggest issue. The same complaint addresses a much larger concern.
“In addition to this they offer a ‘data usage meter’ online that simply tells you how much data you have used every month with no detailed statement as to the accuracy of it with no way to view where the data every month is being allocated, an example would be how much data is being used on Netflix or other streaming services. At the moment it simply says you’ve gone over without any real feedback to tell you exactly where the data was used and could potentially be used to fraud people into paying more for services as there is no way to dispute the data usage.”
This is a massive problem. Comcast has already demonstrated that they’re adding a data cap simply for financial purposes. On top of that, they use their own measuring calculations. In such a scenario, they have every reason to exaggerate, cheat, and lie. Simply by rounding everything up to the next digit, the broadband provider can dramatically increase your recorded bandwidth.
As a safeguard against such unethical practices, you should learn how to monitor your usage. By recording this data, you’ll have a strong argument if and when Comcast tries to bully you into paying more your service. A savvy consumer from Richmond Hill, Georgia, catches Comcast doing precisely this.
“Comcast monitors and charges us for a soft data cap. For every 50GB we consume over the 300GB allotment we pay a fee of $10. However, every month they grossly overestimate the usage on our account.
As of writing this they currently place us at 271GB of 300GB (according to their online meter) used for the month of September. However, our FreeBSD router tracks the total data used (outgoing or incoming) on WAN and only reports a total of ~147.054GB (139.93GB DL / 7.12GB UL) consumed in the same time period. There appears to be a huge discrepancy between what Comcast reports and what is actually being consumed.
I assume there is a difference between what is recorded on our end and what is recorded by Comcast, but the difference is too large to be considered normal and it has been consistently overestimated in the past year. We’re effectively being charged for something we’re not committing.”
What does the above mean to other people? If you’re even halfway to your 300GB data cap, there’s a chance Comcast will claim that you’ve exceeded the stated 300GB limit. Unless you learn to monitor and track your usage, you’ll have to take their word for it. And it’s readily apparent from the above that Comcast is not to be trusted, something you should have already known.
Here’s another example of how questionable their bandwidth calculations are:
“Comcast reports that the average household will not come close to the data limit at all, however my roommate and I have hit this cap every month since we started using Comcast. We both work full time jobs and go out ALOT, but somehow we are still going significantly over the 300GB data cap.”
These Comcast customers aren’t home enough to utilize the service to the point where they would reach 300GB. The only way that could happen is if Comcast’s calculations employ questionable methodology. A resident of Nashville, Tennessee discovered this the hard way.
“Comcast just surprised me with a bill that shows that I owed $180 for over cap surcharges. I called the same day I got the bill, and they also let me know that I owe another $220 for over cap surcharges. (That’s right, a surprise $400).”
At the time of the complaint, the person wasn’t sure if Comcast would offer a refund for this fiasco. $400 should pay for at least six months of service, which means that the newly implemented data cap brutally punished this loyal subscriber. They effectively received half a year of bills at once but only for a single month of service. It’s a sickening business practice, and this situation embodies the logical extreme of it.
Cord cutters who stream lots of videos run the risk of massive overbilling under Comcast’s new rules. The situation grows worse as media streams and downloads require more bandwidth. A customer from Huntsville, Alabama makes a quick but important note on this topic.
“One game from Steam can be 40 gigabytes! Just one game!”
And I have even worse news for him. Based on Comcast’s calculations above, they might count this one game download as 75 gigabytes of usage. This discrepancy means that a person who downloads a new Steam game each week will hit the cap even if they don’t use any other Internet services, which of course they will. So, Steam users are susceptible to massive billing overages.
Clearly, the data cap overcharge is widely despised and dangerous to boot. Perhaps the most passionate FCC complaint on the topic comes from Plantation, Florida:
“I object to this new policy of forcing customers to pay more for exceeding pre-established data caps by this greedy corporation. The caps will be exceeded even by moderate users of the internet due to forced video ads on pretty much every single web page that one loads into a browser. This is not right. These cable companies are already charging us too much for internet service. Now Comcast wants to charge us a $30 av month fee to prevent them from charging us even more fees. This is a rip off. The government needs to do something to stop this practice of capping. If they are going to meter our internet usage like an electric power company then we should be charged only for data that we call up. This means a ban on all forced internet advertising. PLEASE do something. We have no one to protect us!”
A reader from Norcross, Georgia, is more succinct:
“There is no way that they can justify this as being fair or right: it’s price gouging, pure and simple.”
Both of them are absolutely correct. That’s why it’s imperative that you file a complaint at this link to make your voice heard.
If you’re interested in additional information about the Freedom of Information Act request that we performed, have a look at more complaints below.