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HissyFitWatch: Cutting Off Customers Who Use “Too Much” in Austin

Phillip Dampier April 23, 2009 HissyFitWatch 98 Comments

Angry young business man on white background

[Update 6:22pm EDT — If you are in the Austin area and you have had your service cut off for “over use,” please contact me immediately using the Contact form on the top of your screen.  Thanks!]

First Time Warner (via TWCAlex on Twitter) told customers who fought back the caps that the company was reneging on the DOCSIS upgrade, at least for now, and was taking their toys home with them.

But now the hissy fit might be extending into a usage crackdown in at least one of the “test” cities.  Because the promised “listening tour” of customer concerns is nowhere in sight, and the company has instead relied on a Re-Education campaign involving astroturfing lobbyists and propaganda, StoptheCap! launches a new feature this morning for any and all ISPs who throw tantrums when customers rebel and don’t allow providers to do whatever they want.

HissyFitWatch reports on ISPs who suddenly develop a bad attitude when things just don’t appear to be going their way.

Austin StoptheCap! reader Ryan Howard kicks off our premiere edition with a report that his Road Runner service was cut off yesterday without warning.  According to Ryan, it took four calls to technical support, two visits to the cable store to try two new cable modems (all to no avail), before someone at Time Warner finally told him to call the company’s “Security and Abuse” center.

“I called the number and had to leave a voice mail and about an hour later a Time Warner technician called me back and lectured me for using 44 gigabytes in one week,” Howard wrote.

Howard was then “educated” about his usage.

“According to her, that is more than most people use in a year,” Howard said.

Howard questioned the company representative about what defines an acceptable amount of usage so he doesn’t get cut off again.  He pays extra for Road Runner’s premium Turbo tier, so he already hands more money to Time Warner than average subscribers for his broadband service.

“All she would commit to is less — perhaps half or as quarter as much,” he said.

Time Warner is taking their DOCSIS 3 toys home with them after customers reject Caps 'n Tiers.

Time Warner is taking their DOCSIS 3 toys home with them after customers reject Caps 'n Tiers.

Convenient, considering that amounts to 40-60 gigabytes a month, which falls right in line with the now-temporarily-shelved tier pricing.

Ryan felt concerned that the Time Warner representative had such detailed information in front of her about his usage, although the representative reiterated repeatedly that they were not monitoring what he was doing with his account, just how much and when he was using it.

Ryan was upset over the entire ordeal, not only because a Time Warner representative lectured him (and 44 gigabytes, while a considerable amount, is not even close to the terabytes of usage Time Warner usually complains about when they speak about heavy users “abusing” their network), but also because he wasted more than seven hours of his day yesterday making several trips and calls trying to troubleshoot a technical problem that was anything but.

Of course, Time Warner’s own policies for using Road Runner allow them to crackdown on whatever they define represents “abusive use” of their service:

Road Runner Terms of Service — Austin, Texas

The Internet is known as a “shared resource,” and Road Runner accounts operate using these resources. Excessive use or abuse of these shared network resources by one customer may have a negative impact on all other customers. Misuse of network resources in a manner, which impairs network performance, is prohibited by this policy and may result in termination of your account.

You are prohibited from excessive consumption of resources, including CPU time, memory, disk space and session time. You may not use resource-intensive programs, which negatively impact other customers or the performance of Road Runner systems or networks. Road Runner reserves the right to terminate or limit such activities.

Time Warner’s Acceptable Use Policy also allows them to limit and/or throttle service at will:

The ISP Service may not be used to engage in any conduct that interferes with Operator’s ability to provide service to others, including the use of excessive bandwidth.

The ISP Service may not be used in a manner that interferes with Operator’s efficient operation of its facilities, the provision of services or the ability of others to utilize the ISP Service in a reasonable manner. Operator may use various tools and techniques in order to efficiently manage its networks and to ensure compliance with this Acceptable Use Policy (“Network Management Tools”). These may include detecting malicious traffic patterns and preventing the distribution of viruses or other malicious code, limiting the number of peer-to-peer sessions a user can conduct at the same time, limiting the aggregate bandwidth available for certain usage protocols such as peer-to-peer and newsgroups and such other Network Management Tools as Operator may from time to time determine appropriate.

Of course, the company always had these terms and conditions at its disposal to control the “abusers.”  One of the benefits of the DOCSIS 3 upgrade, that they have apparently now taken back, is that it dramatically reduces the possibility that a heavy bandwidth consumer will impact anyone else’s service.  Why put several cities through the ordeal of forced tier pricing experiments, when they’ve always had the power to manage the traffic on their network?  It’s just another reason why we’ve been skeptical about usage caps and forced tier pricing all along.

If Ryan’s experience is an example of what is forthcoming for more customers in the Austin area, we’re concerned.

Currently there are 98 comments on this Article:

  1. gqcarrick says:

    Thats how Comcast got in trouble. Originally they were cutting off people at random and not telling them that they really had caps but they weren’t advertised, but don’t go over the unadvertised caps. Lawsuits followed and they finally came out and said they have a cap on everyone’s service and its 250gb. Sounds pretty suspicious to me TW.

    • Steven Houseter says:

      I am a TW Turbo customer in San Antonio and I would guess I average about 400GB/Month bandwidth. I wonder when my day will come.

      Some things worth mentioning is that I only run “Full On” during the non prime time hours of 12AM-6AM and its all upstream only. The rest of the day my upstream is set to 80Kb. I do not download much at all. Maybe about 5GB/Week.

  2. Sampson says:


  3. Monopoly Money says:

    Step 1: Try to profit off “abuses”
    Step 2: If Step 1 utterly fails, stop “abuses” [frowny face]
    Step 3: Try Step 1 again for kicks

  4. Turbo Means Nothing says:

    Someone better call the waaaaaaaaambulance for TWC!

  5. T.M. says:

    HissyFitWatch….I love the name.

  6. Bryan says:

    I tried to cancel all my TWC services over the phone. When asked why I told him because of their caps. I told him I’d be willing to come back if/when Time Warner states explicetely that they will not cap internet usage. In the meantime I told him I’m taking my business to ATT. The rep proceeds to argue with me about metered usage for a good 5 minutes telling me that ATTs terms of service state they can meter at any time, and blah blah blah. To which I responded if/when ATT does meter in Austin I’ll consider coming back to Time Warner if they aren’t metering but I’m still leaving you guys now because ATT isn’t metering in austin. He continues to argue the same ridiculous points telling me that the metering was only internet rumor and they weren’t going to do that. My reply was ‘What about your COO’s statement about the metering or your PR reps Tweets?’. It’s all rumors. Finally I said ‘Fine, Just cancel it all you aren’t going to change my mind’. He turns to me and says ‘Well I can’t disconnect over the phone, you have to bring the equipment to your local office.’ Thanks for wasting my time D-Bag. I’m bringing the equipment up there today.

    • Turbo Means Nothing says:

      Sorry TWC wasted your time. It’s AMAZING how much these stupid people underestimate these customers.

      IF YOU OWN TIME WARNER CABLE SHARES… DUMP THEM ASAP. These imbeciles are going to run the company into the ground. And in record time too.

      • Ron Dafoe says:

        The only thin gthis company is going to understand is lower profits. I suggest that everyone lwoer their level of service they are getting from TW. Phone, Internet, or cable and tell them that the reason you are making changes is becuase of the caps they are talking about.

        Tell them that you will upgrade back when they put the caps to rest for good. I cancelled my TW digital phone and that is exactly what I did.

        Really, lower minthly bills is the only thing that they will understand at the corporate level.

    • King says:

      I had the same issue with cancelling TWC. After the phone arguement (in which I told the customer service rep I already had Verizon FiOS installed and was not using TWC anymore) I could NOT stop service over the phone and I had to return the equipment in before service would be shut off. I told them that’s their problem, not mine. I took 2 weeks to return the equipment (on purpose) and when they asked for their 2 weeks of payments, I laughed in their face, made sure everyone in the TWC store new what new service I have, how great it was, how the price was the same, and how I was treated by TWC, and then I walked out. The reps in the store had no idea what to do. They’re not used to educated customers who know how to stand up for themselves. Its been almost 2 years, and I have not received 1 notice for collection, and nothing is on my credit. I have never been happier NOT having TWC.

    • Evan says:


      I canceled my service a couple of months ago over the phone and let them know it was because they also cut me off for “excessive use” for 48 hours. I was able schedule a turn-off date and told to drop my equipment by the main office within 2 weeks.

      They definitely can cancel your service over the phone, you were probably just talking to some imbecile that didn’t remember how to do it…

  7. Mike T. says:

    People should start recording their conversations with TWC reps. Stopthecap can then stream the online and we can all laugh.

    • NapalmGod says:

      Recording conversations without the other parties knowledge is very illegal in most states.. So be careful.

      • mike says:

        Which is why you tell them, just like they announce when you call in, “This call may be monitored or recorded.” Its not against the law if they agree to keep talking to you after you state that you will be recording it.

      • Sunflower says:

        It seems there’s a federal law which says only one party has to know about the recording too, according to this: http://www.rcfp.org/taping/ although there are state laws based on the federal law. Most states seem to have a ‘one party rule’ though. But, it’s always a good idea to cover one’s tushie and say the conversation’s being taped.

  8. Patrick says:

    This all reminds me of when AOL began their downfall – remember the highly publicized phone call of a customer trying to cancel their AOL service that was shown on all the morning news shows and written up in the major papers? Look where AOL is now…

  9. Sunflower says:

    Oooo! Time to test this. Ubuntu 9.04 is out today. I’ll be setting up torrents for Ubuntu, Xubuntu & Kubuntu server & desktop editions later this evening and my computer run through Monday (I usually turn it off when I’m not home & asleep to conserve energy)

    Wonder how much data will be used for all these torrents.

    @Mike T. I’ve got a minidisc player all set up for recording conversations if/when I need to call TWC, (or my credit card company, but that’s another story). Just make sure that you say, before the conversation begins “This call may be monitored or recorded for quality control or training purposes” so there are no problems with any recording laws anywhere

    • PMM says:

      Sunflower, just say “this call is being recorded”, and that’s it. Don’t add any other disclaimers to it, just say it’s being recorded, and that’s all.

      If you throw in “for quality control or training purposes”, you’ve removed your own ability to use the recording of the call in a lawsuit, or for anything else. You’ve just put an artificial boundary on what you can do with your own recording.

      • mrbiggsndatx says:


        • Mk says:

          I thought ATT also had usage caps? Oh… hold on… let me translate that so YOU can read it…


          There, is that… wait… THERE, IS THAT BETTER?

          • Aaron says:

            That’s the problem with the AT&T service here in Austin, it’ll only handle capital letters.

          • Ar says:

            You didn’t quite get that translation right… should be:
            There, I think that’s a bit more comprehensible to our Texan friend.

            You know, I think I worked out his problem. It’s “ALL CAPS” formatting. Geddit?

            • DD says:

              Mk, Ar —
              Your replies to Mrbiggs are priceless!
              I mean, FREAKIN’ PRICELESS.
              Thanks for brighting up my day way up here in New York.

      • Scott says:

        Why is it the case that giving an alleged purpose to the recording precludes use of the recording in a lawsuit? Isn’t the idea of the notification to put people on notice that they’re being recorded, rather than to tell people what the recording is for? For example, California Penal Code § 632(a) just says that one can’t record calls “intentionally and without the consent of all parties to a confidential communication,” and not that phone calls recorded for purposes other than those stated will be inadmissible as evidence in a legal proceeding. Presumably, telling people the call is being recorded–regardless of the purpose–would satisfy the requirement.

  10. John says:

    We need to publicize this as much as possible. Ryan Howard needs to contact every media outlet in Austin and if he needs help with that I will definitely volunteer – but the media will want to contact him directly. The more clearly we can get these abuses in public the greater the public outcry will be. Ryan Howard, as the first-person aggrieved party, needs to contact Omar Gallaga at the Statesman and Stacy Higglesbottom at gigaom.com.

    • PMM says:

      May I also suggest that the Texas Attorney General be contacted immediately?

      If TWC is advertising their Road Runner internet service as “unlimited” and then secretly putting limits on the service after the customer signs up, it seems to me that the Attorney General might want to look at the Texas statutes for fraud and false advertising.

    • I have been in touch with the principal players down there. It’s really up to how comfortable Ryan feels about the various media options that might open up.

      I am hoping if this is going to be a trend, we’ll see other reports of it soon enough.

    • Dave says:

      I just don’t get it.

      TWC is a private company that installed private cable lines and maintains those lines with their own resources. Its their property and they can do whatever they like with it. Why are you complaining about choices they make about their property?

      No one is forcing you to use TWC — you can always use NetZero, AT&T, or any slew of other bandwidth providers. You chose TWC, they didn’t choose you.

      Here’s a lesson in how America works. If you don’t like their policies, you may (a) bring your own fiber optic network online or (b) purchase a controlling interest in TWC and alter their policies.

      Stop your whining.

      • Sam says:

        What you said is all good and well, but get real. Your suggestion is like destroying a building in order to ‘save’ it.

        Dave, here’s a lesson in how America works:

        We have this little thing called freedom of speech. It is a really swell thing. It is really effective at persuading companies to change their policies.

        So Dave, while you take the long way, the rest of us will take a shortcut and ‘whine’ till TWC changes some things. It takes a lot less energy and it’s damn American.

      • Charles says:

        Most of us have chosen option (c) give them fair warning, then take away their business.

        If they can’t afford to sell unlimited bandwidth, they shouldn’t have sold unlimited bandwidth. That’s why they tried to move to tiered pricing.

        Then, when everyone was furious about tiered pricing, and TWC started to worry about losing a lot of business to AT&T, they backed off.

        They made contracts for unlimited bandwidth. They’re too damn scared of losing customers to move to tiered pricing. Now they’re trying to lie to achieve a (for them) happy medium: sell one thing. and actually deliver another. Unfortunately for them, that’s called bait and switch.

        If I’m locked into a 2 year contract at over $150 a month for service (and I am), I expect that lock to work both ways.

      • justcorbly says:

        In most localities, T-W or some other cable provider is granted an effective monopoly of the cable TV and internet market.

        Yes, you can usually buy net access from another source, and watch TV in a variety of ways. But, if you want cable — something T-W touts as superior — there’s almost always only one game in town.

        So much for market competition.

        Besides, T-W won’t lower prices and begin to treat customers with respect if it loses business. it will simply raise rates and crack down even more. It’s the corporate way: Customers are responsible for maintaining their profits.

  11. Josh Beck says:

    I live in San Antonio and routinely download 10-20 gigs a week for Linux upgrades and distros and such. They try this with me and it’s game over.

    • I’m in SA also… On the heavy months I do about 400.. yes.. 400 gb of traffic a month with no torrents.. 4 pcs, 2 xbox360, 1 ps3, HTPC, 1 trixbox (used for internal phone system), and streaming media and music.. All of those need updates… not to mention I have to dish out $$$ for netflix, both 360s, di.fm and WOW. :p I like having my kids stay at home and have their friends over… I will not change my ways because TWC wants me to.. I also have 2 premium channels so what’s their beef? greedy bastards….

  12. Anthony says:

    4 Billion dollars in profit and they whine that they don’t have enough money to upgrade their networks. Their 10k filings from February clearly show that the cost to them of offering high speed residential broad band _decreased_ from 164 million to 146 million dollars. ( for the whole country ) On top of that, the numbers aren’t even relevant. The _revenue_ generated for spending that 146 million hovers around 4 Billion. Residential broad band in very very profitable for TW….. For every 4 cents TW spends on road runner, they get a dollar. _every year_ 25 Times the money. Those “high bandwidth” costs they’re complaining about for “power users”… fabricated. Their SEC filing show bandwidth costs to them didn’t change by an appreciable amount from 2007 – 2008, even as usage most certainly went up.

  13. Lummox JR says:

    Curious that TWC considers 44 GB in one week abusive, whereas Comcast’s limit is about 57. 44 GB is maybe three to six HD movie rentals. It is reasonable to expect customers will use that much. In that situation I’d be calling AG, BBB, and my Congressman and Senators. I hope Mr. Howard intends to fight back hard on this.

    And if 44 GB in one week triggers an emergency shutdown on a plan that is technically unlimited, what will happen on the “virtually unlimited” $150/month plan proposed by TWC? One thing I haven’t seen anyone mention yet is the potential bait-and-switch in TWC’s proposed top-tier plan. $75 gets you 100 GB per month and your overage fees are capped at $75 as well, which takes an additional 75 GB to reach. There is nothing in the way they worded that plan that would prevent them from cutting off access completely at the 175 GB point, which would certainy fulfill their promise not to incur overages over $75. All they said was that there would be an upper limit for overage charges in that plan, not that they wouldn’t cut you off to achieve it.

    Just because Landel Hobbs used the phrase “virtually unlimited” does not mean it means anything. His other statements have suggested that a Draconian 40 GB per month is more than generous for the average user. In that wildly distorted view (though let’s be honest, it’s just a lie; nobody can really be stupid enough to believe that), 175 GB is indeed “virtually” unlimited.

    • I keyed right in on “virtually unlimited” myself. The weasel word “virtually” can be defined anyway they see fit.

      Time Warner divisions in other areas of the country have been known to cut off access, usually when a virus/botnet attack is causing an issue, but also on occasion for consumption issues. My problem comes in when it turns out to be arbitrary, which is why I am looking to see if there are similar incidents coming from Austin in the days ahead.

  14. Jeff says:

    It’s time: TWC should change their Internet logo from the Road Runner to Wile E. Coyote.

  15. Josh Beck says:

    The article states:

    One of the benefits of the DOCSIS 3 upgrade, that they have apparently now taken back, is that it dramatically reduces the possibility that a heavy bandwidth consumer will impact anyone else’s service.

    Is that just because of the increased bandwidth capability?

    • Josh Beck says:

      nvm, answer is obvious. DOCSIS 3 is still a shared resource.


    • Yes. There is only one big application out there that a network engineer can legitimately point to as a potential troublemaker – that is unthrottled peer to peer torrent activity. That can absorb whatever bandwidth is thrown to it, if the demand for the shared file is high enough. It was this technology which caused Comcast to throttle torrents which got them into hot water with the FCC.

      I think this kind of technology does need to be better tuned to exist peacefully on cable-platforms. But my confidence in the protocol development teams to resolve this problem, or manage it technologically, is much higher than my confidence in corporate management to mitigate it with tiers and caps.

      I do not have a deep technical understanding of a lot of technical issues, but I think a war on caps must also challenge those things that could create problems for our side, and that could be one of them. DOCSIS 3 won’t solve that particular issue, as I understand it.

      • –Quote–
        There is only one big application out there that a network engineer can legitimately point to as a potential troublemaker – that is unthrottled peer to peer torrent activity. That can absorb whatever bandwidth is thrown to it, if the demand for the shared file is high enough.

        Hi Philip,

        Sure, but that’s true of non-P2P uploads as well. There’s nothing special about BitTorrent here. Another consideration you mentioned is “unthrottled.” Nearly every ISP throttles uploads to a fraction of the download speed. BitTorrent (and every other application) must live within that allocation. Peer-to-peer architecture has no special magic that defeats it; instead, it simply lives within it.

        • PPNSteve says:

          Oh Hi Rob, fancy meeting you here.
          I agree with that. Also of note, most torrent clients can now be set to limit bw and/or number of connections used (both per torrent and overall) so p2p via BT is not an issue anymore, or shouldn’t be.

          Bottom line is simple, data usage is going up and will continue to do so as more and more HD video, cloud based apps, and whatever else is invented is being used by the mainstream population.

  16. Grayson Peddie says:

    I’m looking at the first picture of the article: Is that the CEO of Time Warner? Surely, he looks like one.

    Although I don’t want to insult him or do name-calling (just need to minimize personal attacks), but it just makes me feel like it… 🙁

  17. Smith6612 says:

    I did notice one thing about one of the excerps from the AUP, most importantly the one on CPU Time, Memory, Disk space, and Session Time. What curiates me is the fact that those things are typically done on your own PC, and just passing traffic unless you’re doing Torrents galore won’t harm any of their routers what so ever. If that’s what they mean as in their edge equipment, then sure, I’m fine with that but if they’re talking about things like CPU Time on my own PC, let’s just say that on my gaming rig, that will be a huge problem. It doesn’t take much for me to max out an Intel i7 + 3 nVidia GeForce GTX280s (Overclocked) as well as the 4GB HyperX 1800 Mhz RAM and everything else in my box at all, as I typically run it maxed when I’m on it.

  18. Lee Drake says:

    They cut off my service and I will be gone faster than you can say cancel.

  19. cory finnegan says:

    I live in Austin and I have also had my internet cut off for downloading 40-50 gigs in a week. One morning I opened firefox and there was a message telling me that I needed to call Time Warner’s security center to reinstate my connection. I called and left my number and was called back within the hour. The woman on the phone informed me that I was using for too much bandwidth and that what I had downloaded was about as much as a normal person does in a year. Even more so than a “power user.” I asked her to define a power user and she said it was someone who “spends every waking moment on the computer, watches a lot of streaming video and downloads video game demos.” She told me that I would have to watch the amount of data that I downloaded and to keep it under 40 gigs a month. This was actually a month or so before Time Warner was talking about their tiered internet cap so I guess they have had the idea for awhile. The worst part is that in my apartment building you cannot get any other cable internet service but Time Warner without huge installation fees. It all just leaves me with a bad taste in my mouth

    • Was this recent? If so, please use the contact form and send me a message. I am planning a media availability over this. I need anyone affected to contact me a.s.a.p.

  20. Kimberly says:

    It seems to me that the wisest course for a customer who’s dealing with a whiny, arrogant company is to look into alternatives to their service. If enough people leave Time Warner over their juvenile business practices, it will set a good precedent as well as put a cap on their attitude problem.

    In this economy, ‘lecturing’ customers is a decidedly bad move.

  21. Ugly American says:

    By their own logic:

    We should cancel management’s pay because most people in the US earn less than $50K a year.

    There is NO reason why they should use more than the median.

    There should be NO private monopolies. We should use eminent domain. Seize all of them and convert them to co-ops.

    It’s OK to own a website. It’s NOT OK to own the wires.

    The same goes for the power company.

  22. Nick says:

    Hi Homeless Wonder!

  23. Mike says:

    I think that all they are about is profit margin. So what I do is juggle between AT&T and TW. If you ask me, I wouldn’t know if one of them is sweeter then another. Same Shit, Different Day.

  24. Keith says:

    What can you expect from a monopoly?

    The fact that they can actually gauge your weekly traffic gives the lie to their nonsense about how they had to institute tiered pricing to “protect” other users from the “abuses” of the heavyweights. If that really was a problem and they can tell tell who is doing 40GB a week and who isn’t, they could have come up with a pricing scheme that was literally aimed only at those few specific “abusers.” The only thing they’re interested in protecting is the contingency fund needed to pay for the execs’ golden parachute plans.

    I’m not on the side of TWC but ye gods, what the **** are you doing that you’re downloading 40GB a week? Are you trying to build a collection of every song ever written in the English language?

    • Mark says:

      44 G is not that much. Assuming 8 Mbit/sec service, if he was receiving at full speed, he would get to 44G in about 12.5 hours. Or about 7% of the week. Or less than 2 hours a day. Have ‘unlimited internet’, but if you use it more than 7% of the time, you are banned.

  25. Earl says:

    At a rate of 44GB for a week, he still would be well within the cap Comcast has implemented. With teenagers in the house, 44GBs is not out of the question. Think about it, movies from Netflix, HD movies, streaming video, YouTube, Myspace, iTunes, any online movie distributor, even my TW phone service runs through my modem. You have to look at the big picture. The internet is the future of media distribution. So this guy got cut off because he exceeded his “unlimited” bandwidth. Time Warner is greedy and now angry over the public and political outrage from their previous stunt of attempting to cap at 40GBs for a month and a dollar per GB after the 40. Now they say they are not going to upgrade as promised. I encourage everyone to search for alternatives to TW. They are a public relations nightmare. The service has always been substandard and overpriced. I do not need to be a pirate to use more than 40GBs in a month. I will be dropping TW in June, regardless of the metered billing or not. They want to use the next few months to “Educate” the public. and try the same metered billing plan again. Hopefully by then legislation can be passed to prevent this extortion. At least to open the floodgates to competition in the Austin area and see how they react. Please, above all, do not be naive enough to think your bill will decrease because you do not utilize resources as well as others may. This is about the mighty dollar and how much TW can obtain.

  26. xatilla says:

    Does anyone have a good reference to exact usage of higher-bandwidth Internet usage, such as netflix/hulu watching and online gaming? Once measured a single web page as taking 250Kb including images, so let’s include something like an hour of active web browsing.

  27. sys admin says:

    It seems to me that a vendor has to have explicit caps on usage.

    I run a hosting company, and I offer 1GB drive space and 80GB/mo. transfer. That is overselling to the extent I hope all my customers don’t take me up on it, but I’m willing to do it.

    A customer told me he wanted “unlimited” drive space and transfer, that a competitor offered those terms. I said go ahead.

    He called me a month later, wanted to come back. I declined his business.

    • ntwk admin says:

      When did you decline the business? This year? Last year? Before the whole economic crisis? Guess you’ve never heard that “the customer is always right”.

      • mthidguy says:

        I decline business all the time. “The customer is always right” is a stupid fallacy that people like to spout when they don’t get what they want. For example, let’s say a customer comes to me and wants a website with ajax and popups and flash and I charge them a truckload for it, then they come back and say that after researching it, that’s not what they needed for their grassroots eco non-profit. Was the customer right? Hell no. I’d be a fool to not tell them that, and refuse the business if it’s going to end up costing me more in time and effort to make them happy than what I can charge them. The customer isn’t always right–but the customer is always the customer. Responsible vendors understand this.

      • sys admin says:

        People who say “the customer is always right” are usually troublemakers.

  28. burris says:

    Frankly, I’m surprised that grown adults are whining about “unlimited” and “false advertising.” I guarantee you that your service was never unlimited. There was always a clause in the contract that you agreed to that your provider could cut you off for abuse or overuse.

    “The large print giveth and the fine print taketh away.” How did you get this far in life without understanding this?

    That said, I fully support voting with your wallet and taking your business somewhere else if you feel that your provider is acting unreasonably. I also agree that the cable companies are greedy entities who would prefer if every customer bought way more capacity then they would ever use, so the network can be over subscribed and profits are maximized. I also agree that the way people use the ‘Net is changing rapidly and ordinary people are using it a lot more than they did when the current network capacity was planned. However, your confusion over the “unlimited” part is simply due to your ignorance of the terms of your agreement with your provider.

    • Sunflower says:

      And, what exactly deems abuse? Without telling anyone what that limit is there’s no way the customer knows what they are doing is wrong. Comcast got in trouble for doing the same thing which is why they now say anything over 250GB/mo is a problem.

    • J Harrell says:

      Not only am I curious to know what the criteria they are using to determine who is an abuser of the bandwidth, but how am I supposed to know if I’m getting anywhere near that “cap”? Where is the website where I can look at my current usage patterns to educate myself and determine the best pricing plan for my needs?

      2 members of my household are moderate internet users, mostly web surfing/bill paying/the like. The other 2 members of the household play MMORPGs, have modern console systems, etc. We also have 7 computers for those 4 people and have been experimenting with various Linux distros. I’m sure our bandwidth is quite high compared to others in my neighborhood of mostly young families and retirees, mostly because we are geeks.

      Are we considered abusive of the system because we’ve embraced modern technology and the various internet-based activities that are available?

  29. Lou says:

    Do we need a discussion (assuming there isn’t one here already) of alternative ISP’s?

    Rochester is one of the places where people can sign up for ClearWire, which sounds like a reasonable solution, assuming you can get good reception for their modem/receiver in your location. But aside from that and Frontier DSL, the local options are basically non-existent.

    I’m also not looking forward to the nightmare of migrating the countless places and people who have my e-mail address to a new address if I leave TWC. Between online merchants and news sources, etc. I must have over 100 of them. Ugh.

  30. Travis says:

    They are attempting to manipulate the data collection process! They collected data in Beaumont which said 86% (or something) of people wouldn’t be impacted by their caps. They have now turned their eyes to Austin (and other cities) and started collecting data for their re-education campaign to promote caps. Obviously Austinites use more and they are seeing this as they look at the data. Therefore, they are simply shutting down “heavy users” during their collection phase. By doing this, they can show that “most users doesn’t consume more than 40GB in a month”. The REASON that barely anyone will consume more than that is they close the connection for those who do. Brilliantly evil in a way but a complete manipulation of what they data will say with regard to real usage when more marketing for Austin comes out.

  31. Microdot says:

    im in austin, but thankfully switched from time warner a long time ago. their customer service was the final straw for me (insisting that my ps3 was sending out viruses. ridiculous)

    not a sales pitch, but i highly suggest moving to uverse. it available just about everywhere in austin now. and even though the speed may be lower than tw, the latency with uverse is dramatically reduced, which results in the same overall feel of speed from anything you are doing online. well worth it.

    • oh4real says:

      Don’t know where it is available, but ATT U-Verse just launched Max18 – 18Mbit speed.

      I use ATT “dry loop” in Austin. DSL w/out phone service.

      Am considering their new bundle U100 U-Verse w/ Internet for $69/mon – no contract, no install fee, no equip.

      When I had to cancel the order ‘cuz my TiVo HD won’t work with U-Verse and explained it was ‘cuz my DVR wasn’t compatible, they offered to upgrade me to U200 w/ DVR for free – for no increase in fee. U100 has everything I really want.

      Too bad it is about TiVo UI and dual tuner capabilities and not just DVR for the sake of DVR, otherwise I might consider it…

      ATT seems in a ‘dealing mood’ down here in Austin, at least for now – while TWC is taking their ball and going home…

    • Sunflower says:

      Sadly, Uverse isn’t available in my apartment complex. I can get DSL through them I think the highest is 6Mpbs, which just a tad lower than what I get with TWC now.

      For cable, we have only TWC or satellite available to us. A good portion of the tenants in our complex opt for dish instead of TWC.

  32. Kevin says:

    Ryan Howard, I’m also in Austin and a TW customer. I both called and chatted TW and issued complaints, as every TW customer should do. In Austin and nation-wide. As I stated on my response on slashdot, mass complaints are the only way that we can get a large company to change its practices.

    I also contacted KVUE and said it was a good story idea and referred them to slashdot.

    • oh4real says:

      @Kevin – Wasn’t it KXAN that TWC cut off for like a month over fee structure last fall?

      I used DirecTV (until last Tuesday) and am now OTN (OTA+TiVo+Netflix) so I don’t even know for sure – wouldnt touch TWC with a 10ft pole…

      KXAN may either:

      (a) love the opportunity to ‘stick it’ to TWC considering all that grief last fall
      – or –
      (b) be so afraid of TWC cutting them off again that they won’t cover it.

      Would be interesting to see where their loyalties are – with customers/viewers/clients or distributors…

  33. Greg says:

    I think that TW is really worried about losing their profitable Cable TV service to people watching shows over the internet, ie. hulu.com. They know that the future doesn’t look good for cable TV and all the services are merging into one, TV, Broadband Internet,Telephone. If they are so concerned that “power users” are going to ruin the experience for other users, how can giving them more money for doing it help? In the last couple of years they eliminated the very popular football channel and dropped their newserver.I often wonder how much they paid Andrew Cuomo (AG in NY) to come up with the bullshit excuse of “child porn” to drop the news service?TW dropped the news server so fast they left skid marks. I have been in the computer business since 1979 and maintain and give advice to many customers, relatives, family etc.The next move they make, whether it be caps or some other cutbacks, I and many of these people will immediately drop all their services, including cable tv. Everybody I know is entirely fed up with their BS and we will not stand for it anymore. I will also help organize a “turn in your equipment” party at a local TW facility. Verizon FIOS has got to be lovin’ it!

  34. TWC Sucks says:

    The time has come to treat “the last mile” as a a local utility and create come competition!

  35. Aley Tannes says:

    I downloaded 2168942Mb and uploaded 451931Mb last month according to DD-WRT WAN Statistics.

    Now that’s a lot more than i usually download in a month, the next highest doesn’t even hit 550Gb combined.

    You just run out of stuff to download.

    By the way, total hard Drive Space equals 15.625Tb

  36. Jane says:

    I am not in Austin, but I’m in that “regional area”, according to TWC.

    Last month I was without service for 14 days. Not related to the cap problem, but I had an interesting talk with a TWC employee during that incident–off the record.

    He told me that the problems TWC is experiencing have to do with the age and condition of their lines. The lines were not built to handle the higher frequencies where you find internet, phone, and pay channels. The recent addition of HDTV has pushed them off a cliff.

    He says there’s a plan in place to upgrade the lines, but it will take at least 2 years.

    I might presume the cut-off for people who go over the “limit” might be related to their inability to push enough data through the lines.

    As a result of my recent (and recurring) problems, I learned from the TWC billing dept and customer service dept that I can get credits for the days I’m without service. It has to be requested within 30 days of the outage and documented with a call to customer service.

    So, I’d suggest if they cut you off, hit them in their pocketbook. Call the billing dept and request credit for the time you were without service or experienced slow connections or had any problems at all. And keep calling. As the TWC employee told me, the squeaky wheel principle is definitely in effect at TWC.

    It might be that *when* the lines in your area are upgraded, they will stop being concerned about the amount of data you send/receive.

  37. Scope says:

    reminiscent of the backwater days of AOL metering … it was only when flat rate fees were introduced did we see an explosion in Internet Usage

    And it has been DECADES since. That These monopolies are desperately trying to reinvent a Dead business model by replacing hourly usage with bytes is pathetic.

  38. Frank says:

    TWC has recently been taking customer “suggestions” on comsumption based service and I wrote them that I use about 150GB a month BUT I voluntarily limit my high bandwidth downloads (usenet) to after midnight when usage is way down. I also suggested that they try something similar to what CEL phone companies do such as having “unlimited” bandwidth usage after lets say MIDNIGHT when usage is down SHOULD they ever impose caps.

    • John says:

      If they do that, I would be that person that tries to download the _entire_ internet. All of it.

      Between midnight and six, of course.

  39. Trav says:

    It isn’t just happening over there you guys – I’m paying for a 8Mb connection through Orange here in the UK and they decided that because my family of six used 57.2 GB of bandwidth over a two month period, they would cap my speed to 50kb/s during “peak” times, although there is no reduction in price.

    That lasted less than two weeks, I’ve dumped them and am moving to a different ISP.

  40. james says:

    Still I have no sympathy for someone that is using 44gig xfer rate in a WEEK. that is a bit excessive and understandable. IIRC cox used t have a soft cap at around 35-40 a MONTH, and the OP did over this in one week. right off the bat I would have to assume he is downloading movies to watch, and I would question if he were doing legally.

    • The thing is, it gets dangerous trying to ascertain what people are doing with their connection and pondering whether that was appropriate or not. I avoid it myself. I think that there are plenty of legitimate services like Netflix and their set-top box, or Slingbox which lets you stream your TV channels to yourself at work or elsewhere, that could get into that range of usage, and they are entirely legal.

      It also gets you into a pattern where someone else decides your usage is excessive, based on their own standards of how they use their connection. It usually brings a race to the bottom, where the weekend e-mailer thinks everyone else is costing him way too much.

      I advocate instead for tier based pricing based on speeds. The guy using 50GB a week probably would pay extra if he could get an even faster connection. That’s where the gravy is… and it’s also the ultimate solution to this issue. Give the heavy users better services at higher prices and they’ll pay. The only tier I heard positive reaction to was $99 for 50/5 service. They were ready to sign-up, until the 150GB cap was sprung.

    • WhoGuardsTheGuardians? says:

      If I want to download terabytes per month, that’s my business and others can do well to keep out of it!

      Oh yeah, by the way, when some seem to question the legality of downloading anything, please note that the same U.S. Supreme Court that has NO problems with someone taping/ripping movies off cable TV or taping/ripping music off the radio, so there is precedent that using the Net to download anything is *NOT* illegal. Until they choose to take a case that explicitly faces the question head-on, it’s making an invalid assumption that the premise of downloading copyrighted material is unconstitutional. Since the U.S. Supreme Court will not address the issue head-on, you are assuming any local, state, and federal laws to what you assume is correct are constitutional. I hope they will face it head on soon, but we’ve waiting for that for over 20 years now. Hell, most of them are so old they don’t know what the Net is or how to use it.

      People, we need to fight against the slippery slope of anyone, companies, or the government telling US what to think, what to say, how to use the Internet, and how to live OUR lives.

      Some want you to feel guilty for using the Net, and that’s just the type of thinking TWC tries to use to try to get you to knuckle under to communism bit by bit. You pay for the service, fine, but it’s like toll-roads deciding to charge you $25 for the toll that just cost 75 cents yesterday…. and due to the monoply they have, oh yeah, there are no alternate routes.

      The price of Freedom is Eternal Vigilance! Keep your eyes open and *challenge* this BS when you see it creeping in!

      Just Say *NO* To Bandwidth Caps!!

      “Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?”

      [Edited to comply with site policy.]

  41. Joe says:

    Easy to solve, terminate them as your service provider. Nothing talks better than money.

  42. Matt says:

    Right Joe, but what about everyone (like me) who literally does not have an alternative broadband provider? I’ve looked into every alternative in Austin that I’ve seen listed, and none provide coverage in my area (I’m only 15 minutes from downtown!!) It’s Time Warner or dial-up for me, basically, and I currently don’t have a land line.

  43. Mike says:

    Wow, I cannot believe someone here actually thinks 44 GB or whatever is excessive. I signed up for Roadrunner and then Turbo and I pay a flat rate for monthly usage I pay extra for the extra speed and bandwidth I use. 44 GB a week? I sometimes do not use the net at all in a week, but some days I can download as much as 250 GB and have. When I signed on to Turbo so that I can download at higher speeds TW actually had free USENET servers, like a previous poster mentioned they pullled away the free USENET service so fast it left skid marks. They recommended we get a subscription to a news service which I did and I pay 30 dollars a month for unlimited downloads. Now that I have to pay for the service I download more than I otherwise would download if the service were free. TW brings back the free service or even charges the monthly fee I give someone else I would be willing to pay fthem instead if they do not go to these ridiculous caps. I am also in the IT business and am responsible for 47 home users and 3 small businesses having Roadrunner. We are all waiting and watching and are all poised to move to a different provider for Internet/Phone and Television if TW soon doesn’t change this game. Yearly billing totals about 150,000 dollars in total they stand to lose yearly (I am sure this is small to them, but if we all spread the word this can cascade quickly into some hefty losses) If you look at it in teh terms of workers at TW this money can account for 3 or 4 salaries. Only pity is the people who eventually will get laid off will be honest hard working techs etc and not the managers or executives making these decisions.

  44. Brian Stephenson says:

    Just to toss in my $0.02 worth about amount of usage. In my house my family has Netflix autostreaming movies, iTunes music, movie and TV show downloads, XBox Live gaming (all bought legitimately, no piracy here), plus purchases of software (yes, Olivia the TWC rep, video games demos are NOT the only software downloaded consistently by Internet users, ref: Symantec’s site, Stardock’s site, etc. Buying software online is today’s story!). For my family of 5, we EASILY go over 44GB/month, that is not by any means an outrageous amount of bandwidth to use. The American economy is moving more and more onto the net, and bandwidth is assumed by those companies, why aren’t iTunes, Amazon, Netflix, etc. more pissed off at TWC. Basically, when TWC cuts off a customer, they cut off Amazon’s customers, Netflix customers, etc. The ISPs have to realize we are no longer in the “You’ve Got Mail” age, we are in the “watching movies directly online” age, the “download kindle books” age, and as more and more of TV, games, software, and movies move to the ‘Net, the more the ISPs and vendors need to get together to make sure our infrastructure can support what is being promised.

  45. A quick note: Please stay civil in the comments section. It’s okay to hold a different view, but let’s not rip apart one another in the process of stating it. Respect each other’s views.

  46. Brian Stephenson says:

    If that comment about civility was directed towards me and my comment about the TWC rep, I definitely apologize, did not mean for my sarcasm to get heavy-handed at all. For a customer rep from a technology company to tell a customer that he is using the bandwidth of what someone else uses in a year, though, that is just simply no where near the actual state of things on the Internet in the US today, even in a “normal” household. I use a LOT of bandwidth in my house, all paid for, including the content, like many of my friends and acquaintances, and believe me 44GB/month of legitimate downloads is not excessive or hard to reach in the course of a normal month of using my services (Netflix, Amazon, Xbox, iTunes, software purchases and patches, etc.).

    • No Brian, I wasn’t directing the comment at anyone specifically here. You were just unfortunate enough to be right above my reply, which wasn’t in reply to what you wrote. 🙂

  47. WhoGuardsTheGuardians? says:

    Sorry, I have no respect for those who want to chip away at the freedoms this country was founded on, period.

    Having rules that are so Politically Correct as to make sure no one’s feelings are hurt is part and parcel to the communist aim.

    Think about it.

    • Freedom of speech continues to exist and you can engage in it on your own blog or website anytime you want to start one. This one needs to stay razor focused on battling Time Warner and other providers with usage caps, not each other.

      Communism is so dead, it threatens to become retro chic. 🙂 Trust me, there is no Communist or Socialist revolution taking place around here. I don’t even know any good revolutionary songs.

      I don’t mind you or anyone else expressing your point of view, but do it in a way you would hope someone would speak to you, with respect. If someone shows up here with company talking points, it’s good practice to refute them in a respectful way anyway, because we are ALL going to need to know how to do that in the months ahead.


  48. none says:

    but stop wont some one think of the children
    please please


    thats going to be there next reason for caps

  49. Bruce says:

    I live in Toronto, Canada & I have no cap for $36 a month. If my provider tryed to cap me I would burn them to the ground.

  50. Grangoire says:

    “[Update 6:22pm EDT — If you are in the Austin area and you have had your service cut off for “over use,” please contact me immediately using the Contact form on the top of your screen. Thanks!]”

    Not to be a smart-ass, but considering that many people don’t have multiple locations to access the internet, wouldn’t having your internet service cut off by TWC make using the contact form on a web-page a tad….I don’t know….IMPOSSIBLE? :-p

    Reminds me of a notification email I was told to send out when I worked for my school’s IT department.
    “You are receiving this email to notify you that your email account has been disabled due to dissemination of the ‘I love you’ virus.”


  51. TC says:

    I’ll just leave TW for not having the NFL network. Guess they’ll still argue that point somehow.

  52. Tom says:

    A lot of Austin TWC Internet customers either must be migrating to Earthlink , or perhaps TWC is using it’s influence, as supplier of bandwidth to Earthlink, to throttle bandwidth on my Earthlink Cable Internet. Any other Austin Earthlink Cable Internet customers experiencing this?

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