Comcast Customer Uses "Unlimited Service" Excessively, Gets Disconnected For A Year

UPDATE: Comcast responds.

Comcast asked Frank to cut back his unlimited internet usage. Frank was confused. He thought unlimited meant, well, unlimited. Frank was wrong. Very wrong.

Comcast replaced Frank’s faulty cable modem in November. Frank’s wife received a warning from Comcast in December. Their excessive internet required upgrading to a business account for an additional $10 per month. Maybe $20. The CSRs weren’t clear. Frank decided something wasn’t right and stopped trying to resolve the situation.

January 19, Frank tries to check his e-mail. No internet. No internet? NO INTERNET?! Frank’s wife calls Comcast. There’s a note in their account. They must contact Comcast’s Ministry of Love Network Abuse and Policy Observance Department.

Comcast accused Frank of downloading 305GB in November and 297GB in December. It’s Comcast’s policy to suspend any account that exceeds usage limits twice in any year. Doesn’t Comcast advertise unlimited use? What are the usage caps? Comcast representatives would only say “I’m sorry but I cannot divulge that information.”

Frank escalated the call until reaching the omnipotent Geovanny. The dialogue from his conversations with Comcast, inside…


Me: Can I please speak with a manager. I would like to escalate this and find a resolution.
Geovanny: There is nobody available. I’m the only one in the department and my word is final.
Me: I thought Scott was also part of the “Policy and Abuse Department”. So you have more than just one employee. I’d like to speak with whoever writes your checks.
Geovanny: It’s just me here.
Me: Even the CEO of the company has to account to somebody such as the board of directors.
Geovanny: As far as you’re concerned, I am the CEO
Me: I understood Brian Roberts was the CEO of Comcast? If a complaint was directed to him and the board they would need to take action in resolving this problem. We did not receive sufficient notification and your customer service was clueless to the problem with our account last month.
Geovanny: He would just bounce the complaint to me.
Me: I’m looking at the caller ID number. It says you are calling from 856-638-4000. Customer Service last month said I shouldn’t see an 856 number if it was a legitimate call from Comcast to my state.
Geovanny: We’re an up and coming department and don’t go through the normal Comcast lines.
Me: So how do I know it’s not some guy trying to gather information on me. Ever heard of identity theft??”
Geovanny: I don’t know. You should have taken the call seriously however.
Me: “You have to be kidding me”. People can spoof a caller ID phone number easily (I checked Google in December). So how can I take it seriously? I would have expected a letter or something.
Geovanny: We prefer to make a phone call to personalize the communication.
Me: That being said, how come Customer Service didn’t know of the problem with my account?
Geovanny: Customer Service doesn’t have access to our database.
Me: Why the @#$@ not?
Geovanny: It’s to protect our customer information
Me: Somehow I don’t feel very protected. Your customer service has access to my name, phone number, address and other personal information when we signed up. Your organization has failed miserably. Don’t you understand. I have no other options for internet without Comcast. Not even DSL is in the area? Had I known there was a
problem I would certainly have taken action.
Geovanny: There is nothing to be done now.
Me: In my research I’ve learned that Cox Communications had the same problems as you guys and in 2003 they caved in to customers demanding they post the bandwidth/data caps… and it will happen with you guys sooner or later.

Ok. Comcast won’t budge from its perch atop Mount Jerk. Dial-up is the only alternative, and let’s not kid ourselves. Dial-up is as viable as biking across the Pacific.

Frank did what we would do: call Comcast and ask to sign up! He got an ambitious frontline CSR, Ryan, who tried to arrange a business account. But that note from the Network Abuse and Policy Observance Department was a deal-breaker. Frank, a Senior Systems Engineer with seventeen years of professional experience, even offered to build a separate linux firewall to guarantee his traffic wouldn’t exceed usage limits, if only Comcast would say what they were. No dice.

Frank’s wife got ahold of Sarah, head of Comcast’s Ministry of Plenty Escalation Department. The February 1 conversation below:

Me- Hello
S- I’m looking for Frank or Elizabeth
Me- I’m Elizabeth
S- This is Sarah from Comcast …
Me- Oh yes you called last night and I tried to call you back and left you a message.
S- I know, I had to leave early yesterday.
Me- Ok, So what’s going on?
S- Well we aren’t able to give you residential or business acct., but we can give you a commercial acct.
Me- What is that?
S- It would be a direct line for your own use connected to your house.
Me- Wow, how much would that be?
S- About $1700 to install and then about $1000 a month service fee.
Me- What the? Are you kidding me, we can’t afford that!!
S- Well that is your only option.
Me- Why not the business account?
S- You use to much to be eligible for those accounts and since you have a business that uses so much broadband, you need to have your own direct line.
Me- We have a very! Small business and have had it for 3 + years and never had this kind of usage as has been the last few months. That is a ridiculous thing to suggest and doesn’t make any sense. We have 6 children and a budget. This is outrageous and I can’t believe you would even consider suggesting such a thing. Would you do it?
S- No, I don’t need it and you have a business that apparently does use that much.
Me- Haven’t you heard anything that we have been saying as to our ideas of why the usage was so high. Like the spyware that my husband found on his machine that was piggy backing and downloading through our line. Also it isn’t a coincidence that the same month our modem was switched that the usage went through the roof. That would cause it if it wasn’t capped.
S- We have never had that happen before. It was checked and it doesn’t seem to be the problem and as to spyware you should be using an application to detect such things so you don’t have those problems.
Me- He does have those and it still can happen and did, and as to the modem I don’t believe you could have checked it, since it isn’t running right now and it is too much of a coincidence to ignore.
S- What is done is done, we can’t reverse it, but you can get the commercial line.
Me- No we aren’t going to do that. There is no way we could afford that. You are basically leaving us without any real options and that is unacceptable. We don’t have any other ways to get high speed internet and DSL isn’t in our area. But that doesn’t matter to you.
S- I understand how you feel but we can’t do anything about it.
Me- I don’t think you really do understand or you wouldn’t be doing this to begin with.
S- I am sorry you are having this problem, but you ignored the warning.
Me- Are we back to that again. As far as I am concerned you all are responsible for our loosing the internet acct. If the customer service had actually confirmed to us that there was a problem we would have looked into it and tried to resolve it last month. We wouldn’t have ignored it. We rely on internet a great deal. My husband needs it for work and we wouldn’t have wanted to jeopardize that.
S- We are sorry that the customer service didn’t deal with you properly and we are dealing with that. All the same you were called and you were given a direct number to call the abuse team directly.
Me- We tried with what we had and just got messages and so we tried to call customer service to help us. They told us it was probably a hoax and to ignore it. They should have had some kind of note logged in our acct. to confirm a problem. Based on what they told us, what were we to seriously think. Want to talk about confusing.
S- I can understand how you feel and they shouldn’t have said that.
Me- It seems to me that you all should take responsibility for your part in this mess. Your customer service should have given correct information to us. As a result you should be dealing with the result and be apologizing and trying to rectify the problem.
S- I understand how you feel, but we can’t do anything about it.
Me- You know thinking about it, when I did talk to the abuse team that they even had suggested a business acct. upgrade and based on what you are saying we wouldn’t have been able to do that either.
S- They shouldn’t have suggested that. Based on your usage the business acct. would have been to light for your use.
Me- So they gave us the wrong information too. So how can we be blamed for something you all are telling us. How are we supposed to know what to do?
S- Well you should have limited your usage for starters.
Me- We don’t normally use that much. We have been with Comcast for about 4 years and have always been doing the same thing, nothing has changed and now we have excessive usage. I just don’t see how that is possible. We need a residential or business acct. We will make sure we don’t go over our limits, whatever those may be.
S- I understand your dilemma. But based on recent history, you would be back to square one and we can’t take that chance of reversing the acct. and letting you back on to do the same thing again. You will have to wait til Jan 2008 to get reconnected.
Me- I don’t think you are getting it. Aren’t you caring at all about the predicament you have put us into? There is no way we can wait a year and you know it. That is nuts.
S- We apologize for your inconvenience, but you should have dealt with it.
Me- It seems to me we are just running this around in circles, not getting anywhere. So it doesn’t matter our reasons and no matter what I say nothing will change your mind. Is that where we are at?
S- That is right, we can’t help you at this time.
Me- (Looooooonnnnnnngggggg pause, trying to keep from crying). I finally say, well I guess there isn’t anything left.
S- I’m sorry.
Me- I’m sure you will be. Bye
S- Thank you and have a nice day.
Me- (mumbling and rolling my eyes) yeah right.

No unlimited internet. No explanation. We’d be pissed, too.

In twelve months, Frank can submit an “application for reconnection.” But only if he agrees to abide by Comcast’s Terms of Service.

It’s not as if Frank’s relationship with Comcast is completely severed. Though he’s still without precious service, the business account Ryan created just sent Frank the first, of what we expect will be many, bills. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Comcast Broadband Dispute