×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

Ask Slashdot: What To Do About Repeated Internet Overbilling?

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the hey-these-guys-did-it-to-me-too dept.

AT&T 355

An anonymous reader writes "AT&T has been overbilling my account based on overcounting DSL internet usage (they charge in 50 gigabyte units after the first 150). I have been using a Buffalo NFinity Airstation as a managed switch to count all traffic. As you may know, this device runs firmware based on dd-wrt and has hidden telnet functionality, so I am able to load a script to count traffic directly onto the device. I have an auto-scraper that collects the data and saves it on my computer's hard disk every two minutes while the computer is running. While it is not running, the 2 minute counters accumulate in RAM on the device. Power problems are not normally an issue here; and even when they are I can tell it has happened. The upshot of all this is I can measure the exact amount of download bandwidth and a guaranteed overestimate of upload bandwidth in bytes reliably. I have tested this by transferring known amounts of data and can account for every byte counted, including ethernet frame headers. AT&T's billing reporting reports usage by day only, lags two days, and uses some time basis other than midnight. It is also reading in my testing a fairly consistent 14% higher whenever the basis doesn't disturb the test by using too much bandwidth too close to midnight.

AT&T has already refused to attempt to fix the billing meter, and asserts they have tested it and found it correct. Yet they refuse to provide a realtime readout of the counter that would make independent testing trivial. I've been through the agencies (CPUC, FCC, and Weights & Measures) and can't find one that is interested, AT&T will not provide any means for reasonable independent testing of the meter. It is my understanding that if there is a meter and its calibration cannot be checked, there is a violation of the law, yet I can't find an agency that can even accept such a claim (I'm not getting "your claim is meritless", but "we don't handle that"). If indeed they are not overbilling, my claim of no way to verify the meter still stands. My options are running thin here. So that my account can be identified by someone who recognizes the case: 7a6c74964fafd56c61e06abf6c820845cbcd4fc0 (bit commitment).

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

maybe (3)

cirrustelecom (1353617) | about 3 months ago | (#47769629)

Maybe they are counting encapsulation?

UNTAG HARDHACK (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769653)

Go sodomize yourselves with your iPhones, Slashdot! This has nothing to do with hardware hacking. Hardware hacking, for a solid example, would be to solder a jumper wire and a pull-up resistor to allow a ROM to be reflashed.
 
Tools!

Re:maybe (5, Informative)

Dr.Zong (584494) | about 3 months ago | (#47769729)

I was going to say, ATM/PPPoE encapsulation is approximately 15% of total traffic. Bell Canada and all providers do that up here. I thought everyone knew this, or were able to google it especially if they are able to upload something like DDWRT to their router. Perhaps I had too much faith.

Re:maybe (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47769963)

I thought everyone knew this, or were able to google it especially if they are able to upload something like DDWRT to their router. Perhaps I had too much faith.

especially in AT&T if nobody he's ever spoken with about the issue knew enough to mention encapsulation. It doesn't sound like he's a dope, just possibly missed this factor. Somebody there could have simply asked him, "are you counting the overhead of PPPoE and ATM?" and then his post may have been entirely different, if it even existed at all.

With millions of home users and thousands of techs, the onus should not be on the customer base to understand how the vendor's product works internally.

Re:maybe (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770215)

Doesn't really matter though, you can't charge somebody for bandwidth used to move data, only the bandwidth the end user used. Imagine if you went to buy milk and bought a gallon but were charged for 1.25 gallons because of spillage in the bottling plant. Not legal. Not even a little. You have to work that cost into what you charge for a gallon, and then charge for the gallon the end user buys.

I say the sane thing to do about this is class action lawsuit personally. Don't charge for something you didn't supply, it's illegal, plain and simple.

Re:maybe (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770295)

This is more like charging for dry goods by weight and including the weight of the container. Spillage is waste, ATM overhead is a necessary evil.

Re:maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770255)

especially in AT&T if nobody he's ever spoken with about the issue knew enough to mention encapsulation.

More than likely he never asked the right question. He was probably asking if there was any way to verify the accuracy of the meter and most businesses will simply say "No, you'll just have to trust us."

Re:maybe (2)

green1 (322787) | about 3 months ago | (#47770067)

Bell Canada and all providers do that up here.

Not "all providers up here", only those where you live, in Western Canada I'm not aware of any PPPoE providers.

Re:maybe (4, Funny)

msobkow (48369) | about 3 months ago | (#47770115)

Don't you know "Canada" means "Ontario" to those who live there?

Hell, they barely acknowledge Quebec's existence, never mind the rest of the country.

Re:maybe (5, Informative)

Tuidjy (321055) | about 3 months ago | (#47770101)

This is exactly what's going on. The company I work for had this problem, at one of our warehouses (not AT&T, different provider, probably subletting from someone).

The warehouse manager threatened his local rep with a law suit, they laughed at him. The company lawyer mentioned a class action law suit, they fixed our billing the same month.

When we had to renew, the new contract spelled out that they will bill us for the 'resulting' traffic. It got signed without anyone from my department getting asked, but the funny thing is, months later, they are still billing us the old way i.e. without the overhead.

As for the original poster - check your contract. If you have not agreed to pay for their internal overhead, you will get amazing results if you remind them that they are overcharging thousands of customers, and that they can be on the hook for millions, when a lawyer agrees to take the case for a percentage. If you have agreed to pay for the overhead... I doubt there is much you can do.

By the way, I am an IT director ,not a lawyer, so don't go blindly follow my advice, either.

Re:maybe (2)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 3 months ago | (#47770171)

Why should we pay for ATM encapsulation? That is THEIR choice, not what people think they're getting when they ask for internet service.

Re: maybe (2)

krlynch (158571) | about 3 months ago | (#47770277)

It needs to be paid for one way or the other ... it's irreducible overhead to move the data you are asking them to move. You either pay for it with a lower effective cap or you pay a higher price per overhead-free byte. Six of one, half dozen o' the other. ...

Re:maybe (4, Insightful)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 3 months ago | (#47770299)

I think people are missing the point of TFA, why are the "weights and measures" people not interested? If it was a greengrocer with a rigged scale he would be in handcuffs explaining himself to a judge.

Re:maybe (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770113)

That's like a trucking company adding the weight of the truck to the weight of the cargo. Encapsulation puts zero strain on the network and should not be counted, since almost everything goes back to an IP network once it reaches the DSLAM. Knowing what fuckers these guys are, I'm sure they count it too. However, you would need a lawyer to go through their contract.

Re:maybe (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770253)

[[That's like a trucking company adding the weight of the truck to the weight of the cargo.]]
And I would 100% expect that from a cable company. What are you going to do about it? Threaten to switch to the cable company that doesn't do this because this other cable company competes with the first cable company on billing openness?

What are you downloading? (-1, Offtopic)

Moof123 (1292134) | about 3 months ago | (#47769637)

Out of pure curiosity, what are you doing that gets you up to >150 GB per month?

Re:What are you downloading? (4, Insightful)

onproton (3434437) | about 3 months ago | (#47769725)

Does it matter? In my opinion, the fact that they can't provide evidence of usage that could be independently verified is absurd.

Re:What are you downloading? (3, Funny)

PNutts (199112) | about 3 months ago | (#47770009)

Does it matter?

You must have missed the "Out of pure curiosity".

Re:What are you downloading? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770037)

"Out of pure curiosity" do you shower with gay men?

Re: What are you downloading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770099)

I don't know. I don't walk around the gym showers asking all the men if any of the are gay. Do you?

Re: What are you downloading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770141)

No, but thanks for asking.

Re:What are you downloading? (1)

Moof123 (1292134) | about 3 months ago | (#47770207)

I quite likely have, but I am not so crass as to go around asking random strangers in the gym what their orientation is.

I was just curious. I don't have any good way to find out what my usage is, and I'm guessing it is a lot lower than 150 GB/mo. We do a few hours of Hulu/Netflix a week and a bit of gaming. I have a 2 year old that mostly consumes my non-working waking hours.

Re:What are you downloading? (4, Informative)

Austerity Empowers (669817) | about 3 months ago | (#47769773)

Trivially easy to do, I've ditched AT&T as a result of being billed for going over that cap. But I have that option, not everyone does.

I believe my wife watched standard def movies, and I downloaded wildstar and one update during that month. That plus FW updates and normal internet usage was enough to go over. I can't imagine what would happen if we were actually at home enough to really use our internet connection.

Re:What are you downloading? (4, Informative)

Narcocide (102829) | about 3 months ago | (#47769845)

Its a limit really easy to hit if you do 3 or more of the following things:

1) run Steam on multiple systems and own lots of games that are all currently installed, and keep them constantly updated
2) run Linux distros such as Debian Unstable (sid) on multiple systems and don't use a apt-cacher type proxy, but keep them constantly updated
3) frequently use Netflix streaming
4) frequently use DirecTV OnDemand services
5) own any relatively recent gaming console (ps3, ps4, wii-u, xbox360, xboxone) and own a lot of games and keep it constantly updated
6) listen to streaming music all day long
7) have more than one recent Blizzard game installed (Diablo III, Starcraft II, World of Warcraft) and keep them constantly updated, especially around expansion release times
8) have a home office

Re:What are you downloading? (2)

justthinkit (954982) | about 3 months ago | (#47769947)

You missed one. The number one bandwidth application on the Internet. YouTube.

FWIW, our household of four uses an average of 350 GB a month. Despite Comcast's claim that the average account uses 20 to 25 GB a month.

Re:What are you downloading? (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 3 months ago | (#47769981)

Yea that's fair. I omitted "automatic Windows updates" too, but you can stuff a lot under the bucket of #8.

Re:What are you downloading? (3, Insightful)

Sowelu (713889) | about 3 months ago | (#47769991)

That's "average" for you. If a majority of households use it mainly for email and Facebook...

Re:What are you downloading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770187)

If most people use their Internet for email and Facebook, there should be plenty of bandwidth left for "heavy" users.

Re:What are you downloading? (1)

justthinkit (954982) | about 3 months ago | (#47770271)

Riiiiight [thenextweb.com]

From that page, "Google says that the video site reaches almost one out of every two people on the Internet."

"one of every two" -- so, every other household uses YouTube. When it hits 51%, that would mean the average household uses YouTube.

Comcast's "20 or 25" as an "average" figure is...unlikely.

Re:What are you downloading? (1)

jratcliffe (208809) | about 3 months ago | (#47770257)

You missed one. The number one bandwidth application on the Internet. YouTube.
FWIW, our household of four uses an average of 350 GB a month. Despite Comcast's claim that the average account uses 20 to 25 GB a month.

How is that "despite?" They're not saying that nobody uses that much, just that the average customer does. FYI, Sandvine agrees, they peg mean US broadband usage at 29GB/month. Median is quite a bit lower than that.

https://www.sandvine.com/trend... [sandvine.com]

Re:What are you downloading? (-1, Flamebait)

Barack Nigama (3779375) | about 3 months ago | (#47770293)

I wish to stick my fetid penis far up your fungus gnat infested rectum. What say you?

Re:What are you downloading? (1)

FlyingCheese (883571) | about 3 months ago | (#47769851)

Not having cable TV and using Netflix/Hulu/HBOGo/etc regularly could EASILY break 150GB a month.

Re:What are you downloading? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770211)

I do a terabyte per month, minimum. Netflix, amazon prime, podcasts(easily a gig or more per episode sometimes) rdio, YouTube, twitch.tv, VPN to work, offsite backups, VoIP, video game playing, downloading games (digital games are easily 30-50gb each), steam auto updating games... Per machine...

Multiply that by each family member...

Re:What are you downloading? (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 months ago | (#47770033)

Dude, thats less than 5 GB a DAY. Thats nothing on the modern internet. I can go through that just uploading my surveillance videos to my offsite. Our infrastructure needs SERIOUS upgrades to handle these loads. Stop asking this question, start asking yourself why you think thats a lot of data, because it isnt.

Re:What are you downloading? (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770057)

I am a software developer and consultant. I download entire system images (4-8GB), client log files (gigabytes), daily system updates for a number of systems (more gigabytes). I download multi-terabytes per month. If I didn't have an unlimited business plan, I would be out of business. Just getting the headers for my system repositories is multi-megabytes per day per system - 3 Linux and 2 Apple, plus updates for 2 phones.

Data caps are bogus and only serve to fuel the undeserved profits of AT&T and their ilk. I pay for bandwidth, not volume. The bandwidth automatically throttles the volume of data I can access, and if I need more, I'll happily pay for it, but nickle and dimeing me to death because I need to download more data than they want is not an option as far as I'm concerned.

ISP's should be concerned about bandwidth, NOT the amount of data you use that bandwidth to access. That said, I understand that sometimes there is so much demand for available bandwidth that download/upload speeds slow down (my wife needs to upload data to the lab, and my download speeds to get the latest RHEL distribution slows), but this is a physical limitation of the pipe available, not an arbitrary limitation by the ISP.

Re:What are you downloading? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770173)

Maybe his family watches an average of one movie per day on netflix?

What are you downloading? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770241)

At one point I was hitting an average of about 600-800GB per month of purely legitimate traffic, mostly Amazon/Netfix/Hulu from both me and my roommate. We did that as a test with no P2P traffic, but lots of legitimate streaming just to see what a legitimate user might show for traffic to discount the ISP saying things like if you use over a certain amount it must be due to illegal downloading. This was right about the time that Cox cable decide to start enforcing limits on internet after we signed up for "unlimited". Currently I think my usage averages around 200-300GB per month mostly Netflix traffic.

complain about it on slahsdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769639)

hreh hreh hreh

Where is their meter? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769649)

Can you be certain that their accounting measures the same content as yours? Could there be some filtered packets, lost packets, management traffic, or other data which is attributed to your line but doesn't reach your device? This could even include any encapsulation they might use and account to your line, such as ATM encapsulation, or L2 tunneling?

DSL paload + ATM = 16% (2)

JoeyRox (2711699) | about 3 months ago | (#47769657)

According to this article: http://blog.ipspace.net/2009/0... [ipspace.net]

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (4, Insightful)

Lowen_SoDium (1338503) | about 3 months ago | (#47769733)

Thats all fine and good except, ATT shouldn't be charging for the overhead on their internal network. The reason that the meter their network usage is to limit how much upstream bandwidth they need, not because the DSL network is saturated.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about 3 months ago | (#47769791)

Thats all fine and good except, ATT shouldn't be charging for the overhead on their internal network. The reason that the meter their network usage is to limit how much upstream bandwidth they need, not because the DSL network is saturated.

Is that what your contract says?

Most places I've seen measure with encapsulation, because it's easier. The problem's not with the meter, it's with the small print. If your small print states that they measure the TCP packets only though, that's deceptive advertising and also puts them in violation of their contract.

Considering how hard I have to work to get any data usage stats out of my ISP though, my guess is that the small print doesn't say one way or the other -- which could still be considered deceptive, if you're willing to spend lots of money prosecuting in court.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (5, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 3 months ago | (#47769899)

Most places I've seen measure with encapsulation, because it's easier. The problem's not with the meter, it's with the small print

The problem actually is with the meter, if you're not allowed to see the meter.

"We're going to charge you based on this gas/electric/water/phone meter, but you have no way to verify the reading" is something the PUC wouldn't accept other than in the case of "the Internet".

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770291)

Every internet contract that I have seen does say that they charge for all of the traffic including protocol overhead. It is my understanding that the charges are normally done with a logging setup similar to what was described in the article where they just dump the switch/router port traffic based on the MAC of the modem and/or your currently assigned IP(s). I do think it is completely wrong that you have no way of seeing this and I suspect that part of why they are not required to have a meter that you can read is because internet service is not a public utility unlike water, gas, and electric that are required to have meters that you can read. I agree that if you are charged for something based on usage then you need to be able to view not only the current usage, but also that you can review exactly how it is being measured and what is being measured.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 3 months ago | (#47769797)

Well as long as they make is clear what they are measuring.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (2)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47769823)

Thats all fine and good except, ATT shouldn't be charging for the overhead on their internal network. The reason that the meter their network usage is to limit how much upstream bandwidth they need, not because the DSL network is saturated.

this has no bearing on anything.

tl dr, guy is upset because when ATT said he has a 150GB cap it's actually a 135GB cap. Yes, those are the games people play. My 25MPG car just gets 22MPG on average. My 2x4 lumber is actually 3.5" wide. that's the way that business works in America. people have their thumbs on the scale. Just internalize that you have a 135GB cap and call it a day.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769917)

My 2x4 lumber is actually 3.5" wide. that's the way that business works in America. people have their thumbs on the scale. Just internalize that you have a 135GB cap and call it a day.

Bah. And I claim I pay the bill, but in reality, 15% of that money is counterfeit. I guess that is ok too, then.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770263)

Not it isn't. 2x4 is by standard 3.5 inches. 2x4 nowhere claims that it's 2 inches by 4 inches, it's just a name, but if you look up the size, it's required to be I think 3.5x1.75 or somewhere around there. 12 ounce drinks had better have at least 12 ounces in them. If it isn't, the manufaturer is commiting fraud and can be sued. If you go to a gas station, if their pump short changes you more than 1%, that's illegal. If you claim to sell a certain amount, you have to be within a tolerance or you have to be in the customers favor, to not do that is illegal. Source, my brother calibrates petral pumps (gasoline, kerosine, propane, etc) for a living and talks about how the distributors are always trying to get him to put it in their favor, and how he threatens to report them to the state and have them shutdown if they so much as infer such a thing again.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

CaptBubba (696284) | about 3 months ago | (#47769767)

This is exactly the cause. The ATM overhead is being counted by AT&T and it has been a problem ever since they started metered billing.

Now they *shouldn't* be doing so because that is a bit like the water utility charging you for 11000 gallons when you only used 10000 to account for leaks in their system or the gas station saying you pumped 1.2 gallons for every actual gallon to cover the fuel used to bring the gas to the station, but until they are regulated like a utility and the appropriate regulator steps in there is just about jack you can do.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | about 3 months ago | (#47769787)

Also packet loss can add a percent of two under normal circumstances.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

nwf (25607) | about 3 months ago | (#47769855)

So, the answer is, contact a lawyer for a possible class action law suit against Comcast for deceptive billing. I'd bet this is just about the OP's only option, since most people would assume network overhead isn't counted. If it is, litigation is likely the only recourse.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 months ago | (#47769911)

Doesn't Comcast have a "You're not allowed to file a class action suit against us. Hahahaha." clause in their contracts?

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

Narcocide (102829) | about 3 months ago | (#47770019)

Yea, but that's pretty standard these days, as is the "You're not allowed to publish bad things about us, or say them in public." clause.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (2)

FlyHelicopters (1540845) | about 3 months ago | (#47770043)

Doesn't Comcast have a "You're not allowed to file a class action suit against us. Hahahaha." clause in their contracts?

Comcast having that in their contracts and it actually meaning anything to a court are two different things.

Comcast has little reason to NOT put it in there, doesn't mean it would hold up.

If you find a lawyer willing to file the case, it becomes the job of the Judge to decide if that clause means anything or not.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 3 months ago | (#47770149)

No-class-action clauses have held up, all the way to the Supreme Court. See AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion.

Re:DSL paload + ATM = 16% (1)

dcollins117 (1267462) | about 3 months ago | (#47770151)

So, the answer is, contact a lawyer for a possible class action law suit against Comcast for deceptive billing. I'd bet this is just about the OP's only option, since most people would assume network overhead isn't counted. If it is, litigation is likely the only recourse.

Hopefully his lawyer will say "Yes, by all means let's sue Comcast because AT&T is overbilling."

Most DSL is transported over ATM (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769663)

and ATM has about a 10-15% overhead for TCP. So they are likely billing you based on the ATM traffic that crosses their routers, not the ethernet traffic you are passing.

Re:Most DSL is transported over ATM (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769837)

So if they decide to tack on a couple percent more overhead for the last mile, he has to pay for that too? BTW, this should be a lesson to everybody. If you don't want to haggle over volume billing with your ISP, demand unlimited data. I recommend unlimited to everybody, especially to those who actually use very little but couldn't control or troubleshoot bandwidth hogging applications if a problem occurred.

ATM encapsulation overhead (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769671)

Have you thought that probably AT&T use PPPoA (point to point over ATM) that basically cause an overhead of 15% between your IP traffic and the traffic actually happening on your DSL line ?

DSL overhead (4, Informative)

Omega Hacker (6676) | about 3 months ago | (#47769679)

http://pflog.net/dsl_overhead/

Looks like they're counting ATM frames, not your IP traffic.

What to do? (1)

Lowen_SoDium (1338503) | about 3 months ago | (#47769683)

Change providers instead of putting up with this abuse... Oh wait...

Re:What to do? (4, Interesting)

newcastlejon (1483695) | about 3 months ago | (#47769745)

A less drastic, but equally annoying solution might be to just turn it off for a month. See what they bill you then.

"It was turned off" is a lot more likely to persuade a small claims court to your side than "I was overcharged by 14%, and here are the dozen esoteric ways I can prove it".

Simple Solution... (1, Funny)

pastafazou (648001) | about 3 months ago | (#47769693)

switch providers. Problem solved.

The other provider is even worse (1)

tepples (727027) | about 3 months ago | (#47769863)

A lot of geographic areas don't have a second provider other than satellite and cellular. In most cases,* switching from a provider with a 150 GB per month cap to a provider with a 10 GB per month cap (source: exede.com) isn't a good idea. Nor is moving to a different town.

* Watch someone come up with an edge case.

Re:Simple Solution... (1)

uCallHimDrJ0NES (2546640) | about 3 months ago | (#47770155)

Obviously, that's not an option for this person. What prompts you to type this and click preview, and then click submit, without considering this? Do you think you're the one who's stating an obvious point? You're not. You're the one who is proving he doesn't think before he types.

little known trick for ATT (4, Interesting)

netsavior (627338) | about 3 months ago | (#47769701)

If you have Uverse, pay the extra 15 dollars a month for their most crappy TV service. The TV bandwidth is through the same series of tubes, and paying their 15 dollar a month television fee removes their ability to charge you for overages. But like all ATT services, be sure to manage your own DNS settings, as their default is so horrible that all my neighbors thought their "internet was down" when it was just a DNS server from hell.

I don't actually know for sure that the TV vs Bandwidth thing is a fact, but I can tell you that I no longer get charged for overages, and my Router's stats tell me I am using more than ever, and the only change is I signed up for "limited basic" or whatever it is called + HBO (for HBO Go) and the TV receiver is sitting in shrink wrap in my closet.

Re:little known trick for ATT (1)

green1 (322787) | about 3 months ago | (#47770133)

I can't speak for AT&T's implementation, but where I live we also have a TV over DSL provider, and they can definitely tell the difference between TV traffic and non-TV traffic, and therefore can still see what your non-TV traffic totals up to if they want to bill for overage... the plus side is I've never heard of anyone actually receiving an overage bill, but they do reserve the right. This also means that they can limit bandwidth separately for TV and internet services, so for example you could watch 3HD streams (total of approx 18-20megs of bandwidth) but if you turn them all off, they could still limit your internet speed to the 15 meg you're paying for. (often the modem will be trained up at 50-80meg, but you only get the internet speed you pay for with the rest being reserved for the TV's use)

Attorney (1)

DaMattster (977781) | about 3 months ago | (#47769703)

I seem to remember a group of lawyers caught AT&T in the act of subtracting data from a phone that had been turned off and a class action suit ensued. Maybe do a google search on this and reach out to the same attorneys. It sounds like you have something with merit.

What to do? This is American isp, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769707)

Well, I guess there's not much to do. Maybe if you lube it up yourself, they won't notice? [youtube.com]

Are you sure of what you are watching? (2)

Pathwalker (103) | about 3 months ago | (#47769711)

It sounds like you are watching traffic inside of your network, and not the interface between your edge router, and the ISP device.

You could be missing many things; incoming traffic that your edge router drops, retransmissions between your edge router and the ISP device, and firmware/config updates for the ISP device.

We really need more detail.

Re:Are you sure of what you are watching? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769761)

Hahaha your spurious comments are just hilarious. If 14% of his traffic is firmware updates for the ISP device at over 150gb usage then theres a huge problem. An even WORSE problem if 14% of that traffic is retransmits.

Re:Are you sure of what you are watching? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770287)

Well, he has a point on the dropped traffic...

A lot of firewalls are setup to drop certain types of incoming attacks (which would count toward the download bandiwdth) - but if you're receiving enough traffic that it affects you that adversely, then someone must be trying pretty hard to piss you off ;)

This reminds me of the problem where cell companies charge you for receiving unsolicited texts.. there comes a point where it just doesn't make sense to do this, but how do you indicate that you don't want certain traffic routed to you?

court (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769713)

how much money is it costing you? Small claims court here in Iowa is $85 to file and if you are right and can show a judge they will give you money to cover what you are being overcharged. They also have to pay you the court costs (85 bucks)

Re:court (1)

Spazmania (174582) | about 3 months ago | (#47769813)

They also (and this is important) have to show up in court to defend themselves.

I had billing trouble with the local natural gas company. The billing department took a similarly hard-line stance about my complaint. A year and a half later as I refused to pay, they escalated the matter to a lawyer.

It took one 5-minute conversation with their lawyer and the matter was resolved. Because I was right? No. Because it was cheaper to let me have my way than go to court, win or lose.

Re:court (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769859)

AT&T is much different than some tiny company in the boonies.

AT&T Billing (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769717)

I have a friend who used to resell AT&T bandwidth as a whole sale reseller. He caught AT&T overcharging him. He joined with other ISP's and resellers and demonstrated AT&T was doing this to all of them. There was fairly good size money involved in this, north of $10 meg. They filed a class action lawsuit against AT&T. As all the contracts came up for renewal AT&T refused to renew the contracts. It took AT&T about 6 months to these ISP's out of business.

AT&T is not your friend.

During their investigation they found that AT&T uses for separate billing systems to collect the same usage data. They found that the systems use the same inputs but all yield different billing amounts. The highest amount can be up to 20% higher than the lowest amount. It turns out they simply select the system that yields the highest number that month and bill the customer.

DSL Is generally several layers of encapsulation (5, Insightful)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 3 months ago | (#47769727)

PPPoE and ATM add overhead to about 16%.

Yup your paying for the encapsulation that never leaves their network.

Re:DSL Is generally several layers of encapsulatio (1)

Yakasha (42321) | about 3 months ago | (#47770129)

PPPoE and ATM add overhead to about 16%.

Yup your paying for the encapsulation that never leaves their network.

So then the answer to his question is: hire a lawyer to look over your contract and determine if the PPPoE+ATM overhead is considered their traffic, or yours.

The next step after that is to simply dispute a bill and demand arbitration (since we all know that those contracts forbid lawsuits).

Of course he could skip the lawyer and just submit a dispute/demand for arbitration. But, who pays for the arbitration? AT&T? Customer? "Loser"? Skipping the lawyer might end up costing even more $$.

Call your state Attorney General (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769749)

Your state Attorney General's office has the resources to pursue an issue like this. And in my experience, they get results! While working for a previous employer, we had unresolvable telecom issues and tried everything over the course of months to get them to take some action. A call to the state AG had trucks roliing the next day. It was glorious.

AT&T DSL/Uverse Data Limits (1)

lionchild (581331) | about 3 months ago | (#47769771)

The thing to remember about AT&T's DSL and Uverse data limits are that data coming down AND data going up count against that cap.

So when you download that 4GB movie file, it counts, but when you use Dropbox or Carbonite, those uploaded files/data count against your cap too.

Re:AT&T DSL/Uverse Data Limits (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 3 months ago | (#47769853)

what about when I email a file to myself?

Re:AT&T DSL/Uverse Data Limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769945)

what about when I email a file to myself?

It goes onto the truck, and then into the tubes.

Re:AT&T DSL/Uverse Data Limits (1)

Tuidjy (321055) | about 3 months ago | (#47770015)

You are kidding, I hope.

Unless you are running an e-mail server on your own home network, of course it counts against your data cap.

The file is encoded, transmitted to an e-mail server somewhere else, and stored there until your e-mail client retrieves it.

A 10M file can easily count as 60M against your cap, depending on the encoding your client uses. x3 for the encoding, and x2 for the transmission.

There's more to it than just Ethernet frames. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769775)

Accounting for Ethernet frame headers alone would not be good enough to approximate the full overhead of a typical DSL connection.

You'd also need to account for the PPP, PPPoE and ATM overhead etc.

Short answer: You're underestimating the total overhead of the connection, the value of which is included in most ISP's calculations.

State Attorney General? (1)

NormHome (99305) | about 3 months ago | (#47769811)

If they are overcharging you or miss-measuring, this could be a consumer protection issue and possibly your State Attorney General or possibly the U.S. Attorney's office could help you. But you're going to have an uphill battle all the way, just like Slashdoters roll their eye's every time a judge makes a crazy ruling in technology related cases that's clearly wrong because they don't have a good grasp of the technology involved you're going to be speaking a foreign language to these people and you're going to have a very hard time getting them to understand the issue i.e. "What's DD-wrt?" or even "What's a router?".

Ask your county office? (1)

laughingskeptic (1004414) | about 3 months ago | (#47769835)

It sounds like ATM overhead addresses your issue. However as far as who to talk to, in California measurement enforcement is handled at the county level: http://www.cdfa.ca.gov/dms/ [ca.gov] . In Texas this falls to the Department of Agriculture and I'm pretty sure they won't care. http://www.texasagriculture.go... [texasagriculture.gov]

Sounds like you're the fucktard here (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769869)

Why create something you know simply cannot work rather than checking the bandwidth use on the interface? That two minute polling garbage is garbage, and you know it. You're just trying to create a situation of shit by intentionally creating a shitty situation. Your kind makes life unpleasant for everyone around you. As Shatner has said to your kind before, go kill yourself.

Get a different plan... or switch ISPs. (1)

Karmashock (2415832) | about 3 months ago | (#47769889)

There are typically four or five ISPs that will serve any area. Many of them are not well advertised. Some of them sublet from the major providers. Find one you can tolerate, contract through them... and try to avoid metered internet plans because they're all bullshit.

Class Action Attorney (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769893)

Contact one of the big class action lawsuit attorneys. if you can convince them that 10K customers or more are being cheated for more than $100 per year, over a period of years, they will be glad to work for a percent. As a representative of the class you get enough to make it worth your time if you win. Of course they will have to figure out how to break the arbitration clause, but ATT may just settle rather than have the bad publicity.

switch providers? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47769937)

Is it possible to switch internet providers to Comcast or Time Warner Cable? Just asking.

another possibility ... (5, Interesting)

nblender (741424) | about 3 months ago | (#47769967)

If it's not the ATM encapsulation overhead as many others have rightly suggested, have a look at the traffic... I had similar concerns with my ISP... I have a Cisco switch between my local firewall and my cable modem... I set one port to monitor mode (copy all packets to a write-only switch port) and captured all of my internet traffic for a number of months... I then analyzed the .cap file and discovered a ginormous amount of SMB advertisements and arp who-has from other cable customers... For those few months, it was on the order of about 10% of my traffic... My ISP has been threatening to bill for over-usage for years so I was gathering data to throw back at them in the event that I ever received a bill. I haven't ever received a bill for over-usage and so haven't pursued the matter.

Re:another possibility ... (2)

niado (1650369) | about 3 months ago | (#47770127)

If it's not the ATM encapsulation overhead as many others have rightly suggested, have a look at the traffic... I had similar concerns with my ISP... I have a Cisco switch between my local firewall and my cable modem... I set one port to monitor mode (copy all packets to a write-only switch port) and captured all of my internet traffic for a number of months... I then analyzed the .cap file and discovered a ginormous amount of SMB advertisements and arp who-has from other cable customers... For those few months, it was on the order of about 10% of my traffic...

From what the submitter said, all that garbage would be included in his traffic calculations. I would put another vote in for encapsulation.

Your findings are a good illustration of the value of a local firewall between your LAN and the ISP's network. Who knows what kind of icky traffic is rolling around out there.

Force of Law (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about 3 months ago | (#47769989)

Waltz to your local PD and fill out a complaint for criminal fraud. You probably will have to push a bit but they may have no choice other than to investigate and those charges may well rock Att"s world. If that fails file a suit in court. You might claim loss of use and enjoyment of your home. A lawyer may help. But realize that ATT must mount a response and sanity may rule the hour as mounting that defense will cost ATT a fortune. Quickly settling with you may prevent them from having to produce quite a few witnesses, pay lawyers, pay for travel and lodging in your town and numerous other expenses. If a judge finds merit in your claim he just might slap ATT really hard and that possibility may cause them to pay. Also make certain the press gets step by step updates as the publicity for over billing may cause its won horror show for ATT

Re:Force of Law (4, Insightful)

soren42 (700305) | about 3 months ago | (#47770265)

This is the type of approach most of us "law hackers" (aka "armchair attorneies") would try as a next step. The flip side (and the down side) is that AT&T will never allow the actual issue to appear before a judge. They will:

- parade out yours terms of service agreement as a contract and request sunmary dismissal
- cancel your service
- bury you in motions: change of venue to their HQ state (which is likely in those terms of service), dismissal insufficient standing — you're not an expert, you hacked your gear to obtain incorrect figures, et cetera

At the end of the day, they can simply outspend the average user, and it's in their best interest to do so. Lending any sort of credibility to such a lawsuit would expose them to similar suits from other users — up to a potential class action. The lawsuit will never even make it to anyone technical for review of it's merit. They have an in-house legal team and many firms on retainer to deal with just such suits.

It all sucks, but that's the real world view for the little guy in our legal system.

A letter to your state's Attorney General? (1)

jsepeta (412566) | about 3 months ago | (#47770029)

get the ball rolling on court action for a giant class-action lawsuit by explaining to your AG that you're tracking them, and they're consistently lying on your bill. also start engaging the power of the press by calling your local newspaper, promising them a scoop.

Same with Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770107)

I have noticed the same with their mobile service. On random months a couple of our phones will use double+ the amount of data compared to previous months with no different in usage. When comparing what the phone says to At&t says we will have 2 completely different numbers, with the phone matching our normal usage.

The only thing that I can think of to cause this type of difference, is that the phone only counts packets that it has received, while At&t counts packets that have been sent. So if there are collisions, errors or other network issues and packets are resent we are getting charged for it.

Canada (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770121)

I would move to Canada like burger king

Consumer Protection Agency (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770157)

Just a thought - they might be the correct agency to approach, if you want to try one more place before getting lawyered up.

for California http://www.dca.ca.gov/

encapsulation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47770285)

most companies charge you for the encapsulation, because some ISP doesn't own the phone cord. if your ISP and phone company are the same, then they SHOULDN'T charge you for internal network encapsulation, but how can you be sure it's the case? at least in some cities of my country you can choose which ISP you can use in your phone, and the phone company charges the ISP for the use of their phone lines so it's natural they charge the client for the encapsulation (but we are lucky enough to have unlimited plans too to avoid us the trouble)

you should do the math for the data usage plus encapsulation AND CRC errors (because corrupt packages are still packages to the ISP)... you may have a crappy line that could affect your bill

In California switch to sonic.net (3, Informative)

Forever Wondering (2506940) | about 3 months ago | (#47770303)

sonic.net has no datacaps and no "artificial" speed limits. [Note: I'm not affiliated with them--just a very happy customer since I switched in March].

Of course, I'm assuming that when you said "CPUC" that means California PUC. If so, go to http://www.sonic.net/ [sonic.net] and enter your AT&T landline number. They will tell you how many feet you are from the sonic CO. Then, go to http://www.dslreports.com/foru... [dslreports.com] to see what your likely speed with sonic will be.

I'm 5000 feet to the sonic CO, so I got 1.3 megabytes/second [2x AT&T's elite service]. sonic is also cheaper. And, tech support couldn't be more pleasant or helpful.

In fact, when you post a tech question to a sonic tech forum, you might just get a response from Dane [Jasper]--the sonic.net CEO

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?