Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Overuse Fee

As previously discussed, I've had wireless for a long time, which means from time to time I've found out that they've changed the nature of their plans without telling me, and thus overcharging me. In April of 2008, Microsoft released Windows XP Service Pack 3. I downloaded it, and installed it, and it caused my computer to stop working ( there turned out to be a bug for AMD processors ). So, I removed it. During the course of that month, despite my asking it not to, Windows downloaded it several times and then asked if it could install it. As a result of this, I got an overuse bill of $500. During the month, I had actually tried several times to use the online usage meter, but it was broken. I confess to not thinking about checking my mail, as I've covered before, because I don't check my Bigpond mail in general, as I cannot rely on it's ongoing existence.

So, I did some checking, and realised that Telstra had, in the meantime, moved from plans that charge for overuse ( at ludicrous rates ), to plans that offered a ton more bandwidth for less money. In other words, Telstra was deliberately robbing me, but their business model at the time allowed for them to make money on giving me more bandwidth, for less than the core rate I had paid. I wrote a letter explaining both this fact ( so there was no way that leniency would cost them money in the sense of making a loss ), that the problem was the Microsoft are also clowns and Windows would not obey me with regard to ignoring SP3, and the fact that if their usage meter had not been broken, I'd have worked out soon what was going on and the degree to which I was over my limit.

I got told to fax a form in to make my complaint. So, I did that. I followed up a month later, and the form had been lost, so I resent it. When I followed up after that, several times, I was told that it would take a while to process, but that I would not be penalised for non payment in the meantime.

For the next 18 months I just kept paying the current amount on my bill, and let an overdue amount of $500 ride from month to month. I just figured Telstra moves slowly, and it wasn't costing me anything to wait. I was wrong. One month, I got a bill, looked at it, and realised I was being charged a monthly late fee. I called them to complain, and they told me that the issue had been decided upon a year before. No-one had bothered to tell me, but the decision was that because I had at various times gone over my limit in the past ( although nothing like this ), that they would not accept a reversal. So, they just kept on charging me month after month, without ever letting me know what was going on. I made a fuss and got those overdue charges reversed, but was made to pay the core fee.

As I've said before, any other ISP would have moved me automatically to the new plan, it's clear that anyone would accept more bandwidth for less money, and Telstra was the last ISP as far as I know to be charging exhorbitant overuse fees instead of shaping users, just like Telstra is the only one to calculate usage based on uploads as well as downloads. The fact I was eligible for overuse fees at all comes down to Telstra robbing their clients, on several levels.

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