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FCC complaints reveal the horrors of Comcast’s data caps

Updated 4 years ago
Why Is Comcast So Bad

When it comes to customer service, Comcast is an anti-miracle worker, sort of like if Jesus had tried turning water into wine and it came out as King Cobra instead. Sure, it’s still an impressive achievement, but is it really something worth bragging about? Because of this, we weren’t surprised to see CityExplainer’s big report that revealed the Federal Communications Commission has received more than 2,000 complaints about Comcast over just the past three months for reasons spanning from poor customer service to billing errors to data cap policies.

RELATED: Enough: It’s time for major tech companies to take a stand against ISP data caps

For our purposes, let’s focus on the complaints about Comcast’s capped data plans, which the company is just itching to move beyond its initial trial markets and out to a nationwide launch. Comcast insists that its data caps aren’t actually data caps but are instead “data usage plan trials,” but let’s be real — these plans give you a monthly limit on the data you can use before Comcast starts slapping you with overage fees. By all reasonable definitions, they are data caps.

And customers really, really hate them.

Let’s go through some of the data cap complaints the FCC has received so far. This letter raises concerns about not getting notified when you’re approaching your monthly data limit. Essentially, this customer says they were hit with overage charges even though they never received a warning about crossing their data threshold:

This customer in Alabama, meanwhile, points out how easy it is to blow through your 300GB data cap if you watch Netflix and download games onto your PlayStation 4. The customer also mentions that they have no other choice for broadband providers in their neighborhood:

This Comcast customer makes the very salient point that with the size of digital media expanding thanks to online gaming and 4K videos, Comcast’s arbitrary data caps are entirely too low for modern Internet users.

This user in Mississippi is getting hit with overage charges and they can’t find any way to see how much data they’re actually using every month:

This user makes an argument that the data caps are anti-competitive because they give people an incentive to stick with Comcast’s cable bundles for their TV fix instead of using Netflix, Hulu and Sling TV and risking getting hit with fees for going over their monthly caps.

This theme is echoed by another user who feels Comcast’s data caps are the company’s way of pressuring people to stick with TV cable bundles:

So let’s go over the general themes we’ve seen here: Many customers are finding that Comcast’s data caps are easy to blow through, particularly if you’re a cord cutter or a gamer. Some Comcast customers have found that they don’t get proper warnings about potential overages or that they can’t access tools needed to track their data usage. Challenging unwarranted overage fees is insanely hard, just as challenging any bogus Comcast fees is insanely hard. And finally, customers believe these data caps give customers incentive to subscribe to Comcast’s competing cable bundles instead of watching TV over the web.

Despite all these complaints, however, we can’t see Comcast ditching data caps anytime soon since the company faces little competition in many markets and because there’s just too much money to be made from charging overage fees.

To read the full batch of Comcast complaints about data caps, check out CityExplainer’s full treasure trove here.

Prior to joining BGR as News Editor, Brad Reed spent five years covering the wireless industry for Network World. His first smartphone was a BlackBerry but he has since become a loyal Android user.