[Offtopic] o/t BigPond charges?

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Wed Jun 24 22:20:34 EST 2009

Hi all,

The following news item today is rather a surprise, thus one is wondering,
has anyone on the list with a BigPond home connection noticed any problem?

Bill shock: BigPond users charged thousands for 'data they didn't use'

by Julia Talevski, June 24, 2009 - 5:48PM 

A Telstra BigPond customer has been slugged thousands of dollars for 
excess data usage and others have been hit with unexpected bills for 
downloads they claim they didn't use. 

Nigel Hopkinson said he was disputing a charge of $8562.31 for 73GB of 
excess data use. The apparent usage was recorded by BigPond between 
midnight and 5.07am on May 10. He received an automatic email at 8.53am 
from BigPond, advising his account reached 175 per cent of his monthly 
60GB usage allowance. He had left his computer and modem on, he said. 

Other customers that have been affected by excess data usage claimed to 
have turned their computers and modems off.

"I had no software running that would cause this and I do not believe 
with my connection speed, that it is even technically possible," Mr 
Hopkinson said.

Another BigPond customer, Eian Mathieson, who is on a 25GB-a-month plan, 
said he began to worry about his account usage after having gone over the 
limit two months in a row.

Mathieson downloaded a metering tool, Netmeter, to measure his usage 
patterns. On one day, BigPond metering recorded more than five times the 
usage Netmeter reported, he said. On May 27, the BigPond meter showed he 
had used 1768MB, whereas Netmeter showed 342.6MB for that same day. The 
next day, the BigPond meter displayed 1650MB of usage and Netmeter 
recorded 358.62MB, Mr Mathieson said. 

He said he contacted an IT company, R2 Technology, to inspect his PCs for 
any possible intrusions, such as trojans or malware, that could be 
causing the problems, but after running multiple scans on all his 
computers and checking the installation of Netmeter, he said the problem 
appeared to reside with BigPond's metering tool. 

"After R2 had finished, they said that absolutely no way there is 
anything hidden on any computer that is causing this problem. It really 
genuinely seems to be a metering issue on Telstra's end," Mr Mathieson 

When Graeme Fletcher switched from a dial-up to an ADSL broadband account 
on May 7, he said he started to notice his usage increasing. Between May 
7 and 11, it recorded that he downloaded about 900MB in about four days, 
he said. 

"I don't use the internet that much at all, I just use it for emails, and 
don't download anything special," Mr Fletcher said. 

Between May 14 to 17, Mr Fletcher said he turned his modem off, unplugged 
it from the wall and put it back into the box. During those days, he said 
BigPond metering recorded between 30MB to 88MB data use each day.

When Mr Fletcher contacted BigPond about the problem, he said he was 
informed that someone else was using his account. His first bill showed 
he was being charged $72 for excess usage, which he said Telstra told him 
it would remove from his account.

"I called up before May 18, to try and sort things out, but I was just 
getting the run-around," Mr Fletcher said. "I had a phone call from 
Telstra saying they're going to cut my phone off because I haven't paid 
my bill. I have to get back on to BigPond and work it out again. It's 
just unbelievable."

In a discussion on a telecommunications forum, Whirlpool.net.au, one post 
referred to a apparent screenshot of a BigPond customer's usage for one 
month totalling 52 million megabytes (52 terabytes). 

Another customer, Robert MacMillan, claimed BigPond's usage meter was 
recording about 20MB to 120MB a night worth of usage when he had turned 
his modem off at certain times over consecutive days from May 11 to May 

Choice spokeswoman, Elise Davidson, said capped plans were notorious for 
confusing consumers and it was often very difficult to monitor usage. 

"Even worse is situations like these where the customer says they have 
been charged incorrectly," she said. 

"Consumers in this instance seem to be very clear that they were not 
using the internet at all during these periods. But proving that your 
computer was not in use may be difficult in the face of a giant like 
Telstra," Ms Davidson said.

"The number of cases would indicate there is a problem and it needs to be 
resolved quickly, without hours wasted on hold to a call centre."

Paul Budde, an independent telco analyst from BuddeComm, said he had 
heard of similar cases. But, he said, it was very difficult to pinpoint 
where the problem was.


Cheers people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria, Australia

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