The original post with bill scans can be found here. http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r26817647-Burloak-Usage-Based-Billing-Nightmare .
There cannot be a worse case example for what will could be in store for any country that refuses to regulate this kind of behaviour. This total comes from *only* THREE months of a regular "triple-play" bill including TV, internet and phone usage in Canada, with the major component of this bill coming from $1/gb so called "overage charges". Even more shocking is that this customer only took action when the amount became triple what he usually pays, when $891 was withdrawn from his account. This means that routinely, this Canadian is used to paying in the range of $300 *MONTHLY* for his service. In this particular case he was billed $689.21 for 650gb of usage at $1.00/gb and that's before tax, and he normally spends upwards of $4000/year for his service (does this sound right to any sane reader?).
This customer puts it best as to both the oversight and accuracy of such billing practices:
"Internet usage based billing is flawed. The methodology and devices that determine the bandwidth are not certified or regulated by Measurement Canada. There is no recourse for your customers to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the bandwidth measurements. Cogeco customers must rely on the ‘Internet Usage’ meter Cogeco has on the website. The meter is not always up to date and has frequent outages. The metering Cogeco uses does not distinguish between wanted and unwanted traffic. This means that a customer would have to pay overages if their modem was the victim of a malicious attack. Cogeco charges exact overage charges without having a flawless metering system in place." . Canada does have a Weights and Measures Act that specifically defines and regulates what can be considered a legal unit of measure for the purposes of commerce but we do not have exact specifics as to why, despite having a body named Measurement Canada and what seems to be useful legislation that it hasn't been applied to broadband use.
Our international readers would think that this may be a worst case of roaming charges, or something related to wireless in general. Fees of such magnitude are not uncommon when someone lets their phone roam in a different country or forgets to turn off data on a bill by the byte wireless plan, however in Canada such charges are not out of the realm of impossibility for basic residential service. Other countries and regulators who are facing similar pricing regimes or deregulatory efforts should take note.
(Update) It is also not unusual to be confused by the nature of the bill and shocked at the billing itemization, by comparison even the AT&T bills (taken from our upcoming AT&T expanded feature) are light reading! Page 1 , Page 2 . Some of our non Canadian readers and contributors have already asked about the rental items in Cogeco's bill, which we've clarified that equipment "rental" is often required without choice to become a customer of one of the big players. No choice is usually allowed for individual purchase.
As I was writing this up, DSLReports promoted this forum posting into front page news with more background information , also giving a history to the rate increases and series of events that have led to Canadians being charged for virtually everything but the air they breathe by world standards. http://www.dslreports.com/shownews/Cogeco-User-Socked-With-Thousands-in-Overages-118090 .
By the way, while this could have fallen under "External News", it falls under Foundation News for a reason. This is a current bill and something that may be within our hands to affect change. We will do our best to highlight this sort of treatment and also help this household in getting this bill properly killed or reduced substantially. Stay tuned.
UPDATE : 2/16/2012 . We've received word that this matter managed to reach upper management and has been resolved. However, the exception of one person doesn't necessarily mean that the system that created it has been addressed, and this incident still stands as an example of how far the egregiousness can go when it comes to UBB/data caps/however they are defined once the doors are open to it. For every one person that manages to raise public uproar there may be many more who don't and quietly pay the "debt", or worse.. have their credit ratings affected by it.