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EE (formerly Everything Everywhere) is the largest mobile network operator in the UK with around 28 million customers. Last April, customers flooded EE’s community forum with complaints of an app that was using all of the phone’s data plan even though some customers were not using the phone. EE never acknowledged the problem.

Recently, EE has come under new criticism from a number of customers and websites for having new issues with their wireless data usage meters. According to some EE customers, when the company’s “My EE” app is used, that customer’s data usage skyrockets for reasons unknown.

In fact, some customers have been complaining about this issue for months.

“EE are in denial and blaming customers poor tracking of their data use, use of third party counters, or use of counters on their phones,” he claimed. “Many users have conducted controlled tests with test files which show the EE data counters to report double what is actually downloaded. Many users lose their internet connection when their allowance is used early as a result, forced to pay for add ons to get back online. How many don’t realise it’s not their fault?” – TheRegister.co.uk

On Wednesday, EE finally admitted that they were having data usage issues and claimed that the so-called “glitch” would be fixed shortly. Yet, EE has still not told anyone how they plan on fixing customers bills that have been charged a substantial amount more for supposed over-usage.

When TheRegister asked EE for comment recently, they were pointed towards a forum post titled “EE Data Robbery!!” where a community manager confirmed the data usage issues but said that people were not actually being charged for the additional data and that it was simply a “display issue.” The manager also reminded customers that they could use the EE app to check their data usage amounts.

Wait, what? So, you want EE customers to use the broken application that is causing customers data amounts to skyrocket….to check on their data amounts which may or may not be correctly totaled?

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Incorrect usage data meters are quite common here in the US and Canada. When AT&T began imposing 150GB caps on DSL users and 250GB caps on U-Verse users, they charged customers $10 for every 50GB in overage fees. Except, AT&T received complaints about their meters accuracy and when pressed about how they added up a customers data usage, AT&T admitted that their usage meters are proprietary and therefore a secret.

“AT&T has implemented caps on DSL usage. When this was implemented, I started getting emails letting me know my usage as likely to exceed the cap. After consulting their Internet Usage web page, I felt the numbers just weren’t right. I started measuring my usage, and ended up with numbers substantially below what AT&T was reporting on a day-to-day basis. Typically around 20-30% less. By the way, this usage is the sum of inbound and outbound. At this point, I decided to contact AT&T support to determine what exactly they were defining as usage, as their web pages never really define it. Boy, did I get a surprise. After several calls, they finally told me they consider the methodology by which they calculate bandwidth usage to be proprietary. Yes, you read that right; it’s a secret. They left me with the option to contact their executive offices via snail mail. – DSLReports, Slashdot

To be fair to AT&T, they are not the only provider that has trouble with their meter accuracy.

  • Cox Communications has had complaints roll in for years about their data usage meters being incorrect. This is assuming that customers can even access their meters which is not always the case.
  • Suddenlink had to stop their usage meter all together because of the sheer volume of complaints coming in about the inaccuracy of their meters.
  • Northwestel blamed just about everyone and everything but their usage meters for the complaints that came pouring in on their forums. Consumers have gotten so angry at the response from Northwestel, they have been considering whether to sue the company.
  • When Cogeco’s usage meter isn’t being confused by a leap year, overbilling customers for thousands of dollars or charging those whose modem isn’t even on, it seems that customers can still be hit with overage fees even after you have left Cogeco as a customer almost a year and a half ago.

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Many of these ISP’s also run their own studies showing that their usage meters are accurate. Sadly for consumers, regulators have repeatedly shown no interest in working with the internet providers to ensure that their usage meters are performing with accuracy. Therefore, consumers are left with usage meters that generate millions for the providers and simply aren’t reliable for consumers.