For the love of data caps Batman! Cox Communications is taking its ability to be a very bad corporate citizen to the next level this week. Not only are they throttling users with “unlimited” data, but they are punishing the whole network segment these users are on as well. Ars Technica reports, and Cox confirms, that they are doing this to keep their network experience consistent for all users… And by consistent they mean consistently bad.
Not only are their “gigabit” plans not actually gigabit (you only get “gigabit” download speeds, Cox caps you at 35 Mbps upload all the time), their “unlimited” data appears to not be the case either. When I hear of “unlimited” data that means that you can use all the data you want at the speed of the service tier you pay for. Apparently for Cox this means that you can do that until they decide that you have used too much data in your “unlimited” data plan and then the throttle you to 10 Mbps maximum for uploads. Then they start to threaten to terminate your account because you have used too much “unlimited” data on their network. So rather than getting what you paid extra for, you now get 72% less upload bandwidth and threatening phone calls.
The kicker is that not only does Cox take out their corporate wrath on the customer using more than their allotted “unlimited” amount of data, they also also take it out on everyone attached to that segment of the cable modem network. This is why I think the class action lawsuit is going to start really soon, likely for the following reasons:
- Cox is punishing others for a situation they didn’t cause nor can control.
- Cox is punishing people for using the service in a way that they reasonably should expect to be able to do given the plans they paid for.
- The “unlimited” data add-on is clearly false advertising if they are throttling connections based on using too much data.
- Cox is threatening the termination of contracts based on usage patterns that a reasonable person would expect to be allowed given the plans they are paying for.
I’m waiting to see the pandemonium that ensues when the attorneys start trying to pile on to this one. While Mike, who spoke to Ars, may only get a few bucks, the attorney fees will certainly be very enticing.
Aside from the class action lawsuit though, this is yet another example of cable companies abusing their customers because they can’t actually provide the service levels they promise. Or at the very least, this is a greed ridden money grab targeted at the customers that are already paying more for services to supposedly guarantee a positive experience. Instead of improving their networks, or better yet, just running fiber, carriers choose to act as parasites. They get away with this because in many areas there is only one broadband provider available so consumers have no choice. The perfect example of why monopolies are not supposed to be allowed by US laws and regulations.
What can you do to try and avoid Mike’s fate, or if you can’t avoid it, at least try and improve your situation? Start with these:
- Avoid cable companies whenever possible, or if you can’t try and sign up for fiber service if they offer it. Always choose fiber over a cable modem.
- Complain loudly and frequently to the carrier. The squeaky wheel gets the grease.
- Push for net neutrality regulation. Don’t let the FCC off the hook for pandering to big carriers and not the consumers that have to put up with this type of abuse.
- Report deceptive or unethical business practices to federal, state, and local regulators.
- Talk to news outlets about what you are experiencing. Nothing is better than shining the light on these situations. If the negative PR gets bad enough, these carriers will backpedal.
- And if you really feel like the case warrants it, talk to an Attorney.
I am curious to see what happens to Cox over the coming weeks as this story gains traction. Will they backpedal? Will we see a class action lawsuit? Will Cox realize the error of their ways and become a beacon of corporate benevolence in a corrupt world?
Who knows, but it will certainly be interesting to watch.