When a programmer from Tennessee returned home off vacation, he found US ISP Comcast hassling him for using 120GB of data while he was away from home. But it turns out that a simple typo in Comcast's records was what saw him copping the blame for someone else's data habit. In a very thorough explanation posted on Paste Bin, the programmer — who's going by the name Oleg — describes the saga in some detail. Essentially, his story describes how he was bewildered by the rate at which Comcast claimed he was chomping through data: 120GB during his vacation, 50GB in a single day, that kind of thing.
Oleg says that he's "not a high-bandwidth user... I am not a gamer, and I do not stream anything beyond the occasional Youtube video." In fact, he even took a 6.5 day vacation from using broadband to see how Comcast's figures changed when he didn't use his connection. During that time he relied on a tethered phone. At the end of the experiment he'd only used 8GB of data; the Comcast counter claimed he'd used 66GB, even though his router was unplugged.
After a series of what sound like incredibly maddening telephone conversations with Comcast, he eventually found out the problem. Speaking to Ars Technica, Oleg explained that "[i]t turns out their system had my modem MAC address entered incorrectly, there was an off-by-one typo that was hard to see so they were counting data from some modem who knows where." In other words, a dumb typo saw him being charged for data that had nothing to do with him whatsoever.
During his investigations, Oleg was apparently told by a Comcast employee that its data meters are "94.6% accurate" — so this may not be an isolated case. Luckily for Oleg he was a programmer, but others might not have the same technical skills to fall back on. If the same thing happens to you, though, it's clearly worth fighting for a proper explanation.
Image by AP