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ISP data metering: a warning from Australia

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Letter A warning from Australia:-



I read on the Register a while back that some UK ISP's were looking at Data use limits.

Don't let it happen, and if it does happen, this is what you are in for, overcharging by way of "excess usage charge" in most case's here in Australia every extra Megabyte = AU$0.15, not much after all it's only AU 15 cents?

What happens to your monthly limit of only 3000mb when a new or inexperienced user decides to download a few game demos, some music, play online for a few hours? The usage bill on the 3000mb capped plan blows out to 5000mb (and higher of course), and in the next bill the AU$99.00, 3000mb "plan" has a extra AU$300 "pay up or else" charge, so the total bill for a 5000mb monthly use = AU$399.00 (GBP 142.63)

Telstra customers in Australia have to budget downloads as if they were gold. Enter the "Telstra usage meter", a device invented by Beelzebub (no one else could have pulled this off).

This meter must account for half the mental health problems in Australia, when Telstra introduced "capped" download plans the Usage Meter was a online check to view your downloads.

The only trouble is it just plain doesn't work, Telstra customers have numerous problems with this tool of Lucifer's creation...

1. The Meter is always 48hrs BEHIND the actual time.

2. Telstra has a "free" sites area, where you are not charged for some downloads, online gaming (of Telstra's choice, a "we think this is what you need" service), in the past it has charged customers this "free" use, then denied anything was wrong with it, help desk (hell desk), staff have a common line to tell customers, "The usage meter is 100% accurate, so you will have to pay."

3. At the end of the month when you check your 48hr lagged usage, and then try to estimate the downloads that are missing, not counting any "free" downloads (if they counted them), you may be able to get that new 50mb operating system update without paying $7.50 to Telstra.

4. While it is a hassle to budget downloads as outlined in item 3, it gets worse, Telstra's Usage meter can't handle the strain of it's Cable, Satelite and ADSL customers checking their useage and the system crashes 3 days, (and in ALL peak time use) before the end of the month. 5-10 minutes and 10 attemps are common place IF your lucky enough to get on at all. (There is a joke/rumour that the evil device is actualy a collection of 3 X 486 dx4 100 servers).

5. As mentioned before, anytime customers feel Telstra have got the total wrong, they get the "We have tested the meter and it is 100% accurate, so pay up", or when you complain that the meter is not working (no access or it has not updated for the last 10 days) the customers are told "seems to be OK, must be at "your end".

To cap it off Telstra recently sent out 3 emails...
The first tells of a "network configeration" problem, and the meter had reported low readings (not counted downloads), and customers won't be charged for the sudden jump in extra megabytes.

The second backs up the first, outlining the problem, then goes on to tell customers that if they go onto a higher (more costly - higher download) plan, they will not be charged for the overuse.

The third email is similar but tells customers of a bigger problem, the meter has been reporting low for a "few months" and like the second email "encourages" customers to move to a higher plan. They have admitted the meter has problems...and the fix is get on to a higher plan or we will charge you for overuse.

Telstra expect us to believe that this meter is always only faulty one way and has never overcharged anyone, without offering any proof of exact dates or who checked / fixed this system.

The local petrol station couldn't get away with this, but with the support of a out-dated Telecommunications act (courtesy of Sen "Luddite" Alston ), our consumer watch dog ACCC has their hands tied.

Yes I can see it now, just like UK residents hunger for some Australian TV shows, a capped broadband service with this great meter will be very popular.

You may read more here and here

Kim Porter.




®

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