ComcastDataUsageMeterThe Houston Chronicle wrote a small story yesterday that reminded Comcast customers that they do in fact have the ability to check on their monthly data usage. Granted, even though Comcast has a 250GB data cap, it is not enforced in the Houston area, much like it isn’t enforced in most parts of the country. As the Chronicle story found out, Comcast’s data monitoring tool was hard to find and quite annoying to use.

Even if the data monitoring tool was easy to find and use, are we even sure it would be accurate? For years now, we have seen countless ISP’s offer customers broken data monitoring tools that almost always end up over-stating a customers data usage.

Comcast has been working on their data monitoring tool for years. We have seen questions raised about the accuracy of Comcast’s tool. As GigaOM noted in 2013:

For example, Comcast, which delayed the rollout of its meters while it struggled to get it right (and still runs monthly accuracy checks) has defended its meter as a customer education tool and as a means to manage network consumption.

EE (formerly Everything Everywhere), the largest mobile network operator in the UK, has received numerous complaints over the last few years from customers frustrated with the companies data monitoring tool. As I wrote about last year, EE customers who used the official “My EE” application would see their data usage spike heavily. Other EE customers found that when they checked their data monitoring tool, they found that their data usage was magically doubling from past months. Things got so bad that a number of EE customers decided to do their own “controlled tests” to prove to EE that their data monitoring tool was wrong. Eventually, EE was forced to publicly admit that their data monitoring tool was suffering from a “glitch”.

StopTheCap
StopTheCap

AT&T has also struggled with customer complaints about their data monitoring tool. When AT&T began imposing 150GB data caps on DSL users and 250GB data caps on U-Verse users, they charged customers $10 for every 50GB in overage fees. Yet after AT&T received complaints about their meters accuracy, AT&T admitted that their usage meters were proprietary and therefore a secret.

“After consulting (AT&T’s) Internet Usage web page, I felt the numbers just weren’t right. I started measuring my usage, and ended up with numbers substantially below what AT&T was reporting on a day-to-day basis. Typically around 20-30% less … I decided to contact AT&T support to determine what exactly they were defining as usage, as their web pages never really define it … After several calls, they finally told me they consider the methodology by which they calculate bandwidth usage to be proprietary. Yes, you read that right; it’s a secret. They left me with the option to contact their executive offices via snail mail. – DSLReports

Cox Communications is one of the few ISP’s whose data monitoring tool was so screwed up that customers reported extremely high data usage numbers while others reported extremely low data usage numbers. To be fair, Cox was not charging customers for going over their data caps.

Suddenlink was forced to stop using their data monitoring tool due to the high volume of customer complaints about its inaccuracy.

CoxDataUsageMeterNorthwestel tried to blame just about everyone other than themselves after customers threatened to sue the company for refusing to fix their inaccurate data monitoring tool.

Cogeco’s data monitoring tool was a complete disaster. It over-charged customers by thousands of dollars, was unable to determine whether a customers modem is even powered on and had issues dealing with certain dates of the year, such as what occurs during a leap year.