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Submission + - What to do about repeated internet overbilling? 5

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 recall, 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 2 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).
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What to do about repeated internet overbilling?

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  • Have you looked into getting a lawyer, and taking them to court?

  • I'd recommend the Federal Trade Commission, as they are an enforcement body. You could also file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau for dishonest billing practices, though that won't do too much but it's quick to file. If nothing comes of that, then it's time to file a civil suit. It'll take some math, but if you calculate how much you've overpaid for each month, you can sue to get reimbursed. AT&T won't have the option of ignoring you (well they could, but you'd just win your money back by def
    • If internet usage falls within the remit of your state's Bureau of Weights and Measures you could also file in court for a writ of mandamus, which is basically an order from the state Superior Court ordering the agency to perform their duty with regards to your case.

The only possible interpretation of any research whatever in the `social sciences' is: some do, some don't. -- Ernest Rutherford