Cable Company Caps Data Usage, Tells Customers They Should Watch On-Demand Movies Instead Of Netflix

A number of cable companies and Internet service providers have soft data usage caps of around 250 GB, where customers who cross that threshold repeatedly will receive warnings. Some are more strict, like the small cable provider in Pennsylvania who charges $1/GB over that 250 GB limit, and who wants you to cut back on the Netflix.

Service Electric, which serves PA’s Lehigh Valley area and a few nearby communities, recently e-mailed its Internet customers that it will begin notifying customers if and when they reach 75% (187.5 GB) of the 250 GB cap. “All usage over 250 gigabytes will be billed at $1.00 per gigabyte,” reads the e-mail.

As you can imagine, some customers are not happy about this, claiming that the cap is a new restriction. In an interview with The Morning Call, the company’s General Manager disputes that and says the cap has been in place; it’s just the notification system that’s new.

It is worth noting that the best he can reply when asked how long the cap has been in place is “At least a year or two.” If he isn’t sure, how are customers to know?

Of more concern to some customers is this tidbit from the Morning Call article:

He added that if people want to watch movies, they need not turn to Netflix. “We have products that the customer can get through our [cable] service,” he said, including an extensive on-demand movie library.

As you can see by the responses to the story on this Reddit thread, some believe that Service Electric is effectively telling customers that if they want to avoid the cap and overage fees, it would be wise to choose on-demand movies over Netflix.

We’ve written to the folks at Service Electric asking for clarification on its Netlix-vs-On-Demand statement. We’ve also asked about the need for caps in the face of studies that seem to clearly show that the cost of providing Internet access has declined while usership has increased. If we hear back, we’ll let you know.

Thanks to DD for the tip!

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