Comcast: 'Unlimited Usage' Doesn't Mean 'Unlimited Usage'

In January, Consumerist reader Matt received a brochure from Comcast touting their high-speed Internet service with “Unlimited usage for a flat, monthly rate.” But only one month after upgrading to Comcast’s “Ultra Tier,” he found out that, well… “unlimited” actually means “limited.”

Here’s Matt describing the call he just got from Comcast:

I was told I used more data than they allow (250GB). I do not argue that I used over 250GB, in fact I went quite a bit over. Though I did want to ask for proof that affected their network, I figured it wasn’t the nicest way to start the interaction. I informed them that I used this because it was sold as “Unlimited usage for a flat, monthly rate.” He then told me it said “access.”

I had the brochure right next to me and quoted, “Unlimited usage for a flat, monthly rate.” He told me their website says something different, and my local franchise overstepped its bounds, and their website overrules the “Important Information about our services, Charleston SC” sales brochure sent to me. If I went over again (It goes by calender month, not billing cycle) I would be disconnected for 1 year without giving me a call.

I asked if Comcast had a tool to help me monitor bandwidth. “Not in your market” he told me. “Download something from Google that will do it for you.”

Here’s a close-up of the brochure:

In 2008, Comcast began limiting Internet users to 250 GB a month. At the time, they claimed that the 250 GB number was where they decided to place the threshold for excessive usage. In a letter to customers, they noted that 250 GB was enough to “download 125 standard definition movies.”

Of course, as more outlets are providing HD films and TV shows online, we’re wondering if Comcast is going to have to revisit how they handle limit violators. It would seem to us to merely charge them more for overages, instead of threatening with sanctions.

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.